Match report posted by John_ (view the full thread on the forum )
Swindon were comfortably beaten 2-0 this afternoon in what was a wretched non-committal, car-crash of a performance against a buoyant Crewe Alex outfit gunning for the play-offs.
Aden Flint made a welcome return to the centre of defence but in hindsight I'm left wondering if this was more a hindrance than anything as at times he looked a fish out of water re-adjusting to the trials of League 2 football. Joe Devera, alongside him, seemed almost intimidated and lacked confidence for the first 20 minutes and Callum Kennedy was recalled to left-back - more on him later.
The real big issue going into this game was how were we going to deal with Crewe's teenage wonder-boy, Nicholas Powell? Well that answer became painfully obvious first hand. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I guess as we're Swindon, we do what we want... clearly allows us to totally forget to mark, track back and handle the opposition talisman. Our central midfield of Ferry and Risser was as bad a pairing and all-round performance as Little and Large's last comeback tour!
On the left, Rooney went through his one trick pony routine that Cheltenham sussed out last week. Whilst Ritchie still looked semi-pissed from last week's awards ceremony in London. Up top, Benson gave it a go - you always knew he would, even when all around him are losing their heads. Alongside Benno was something masquerading as a striker, currently on loan from Leyton Orient.
Having purchased a pre-match Cheeseburger £2.90 and a bottle of Budweiser £3 (Luckily there were still some available as our starting XI hadn't drunk them all!) I made my way into the stand to watch the champions-elect turn it on big time.
The first 20 minutes were sh*te! Little action, few chances and an inkling in the back of my mind whether I could get a refund if possible.
Crewe had a couple of efforts off target. Nice build up play, simple passing and a worrying capability to open us up far too easily for my liking. Eventually on the half hour mark the home side took the lead. It wasn't a case of it being on the cards but there was only one team who had a belief about themselves and wanted it more. A ball from the right to the edge of the box saw Powell ghost in totally unmarked and fire off a volley/half volley that beat Foderingham and smacked the bar. The ball bounced down onto the 'line' and back into play. My initial reaction - in that fraction of a second - was that it had 'clearly' bounced over the line first and foremost. Before I could breathe again the lino was already flagging for the goal to stand and we were 1-down. Lovely.
We offered little up the other end. In fact I can't recall the home keeper, Steve Phillips, having to make a single save of note. Tehoue ran around a lot and what I will say in his favour is that he's a better prospect than Dossevi.
Such was the excitement of the first half action I spent a fair bit of time just staring at the latest scores from elsewhere on my phone. Torquay were already 2-up (bugger) and Southend were winning... this day was going from bad to worse.
There were a few mooted boos at the whistle, though a few may have been directed at the referee who was happy and content on being the star of the show. It didn't stop Matt Ritchie, I noticed, glaring at us breifly, as the lads trudged off the pitch.
Anyway, onto the second half and Rooney was replaced by Lee Holmes on the left. A welcome return for Holmes who previously played for us a youngster on loan back in the days of black and white. The good news is that he looked useful and can probably come away from this game with his head held high. Given the choice I'd start him on Tuesday against Torquay.
Unfortunately, although we may have had a slightly more attacking impetus about our play, the end product was far from finished.
Crewe continued to probe for a second and it was our nerve that broke on 65 minutes when slack defending allowed Westwood to fire low past Fodders into the net. The blame for this seemed to be pointing in the direction of Callum Kennedy - I've not seen any highlights yet and it'd be wrong of me to join the club but what did happen was that Callum was hauled off straight after for Ronan Murray and we changed shape. Kennedy hadn't had the best of games anyway. A little lethargic, a little rusty - I can't help but have this nagging feeling his time might be up?
With Murray on and now pushed up into the gap between midfield and attack the mindset of Crewe changed to one of sitting back and defending their lead. It was Murray who had a great chance to halve the defecit within minutes when a loose underhit back pass saw the Irishman scamper clear. His attempted lob, with just Phillips to beat, was terrible and the former Bristol Rovers stopper claimed an easy save. Already the impatient Town fans were singing Alan Connell's name.
For the last 20 minutes we basically took control of the game but it was really a case of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show'.
Simon Ferry smacked the bar after cutting in from the right and letting one go - the follow up was blocked as Tehoue floundered about. Then moments a later a deft header from Benson hit the bar/top of the post - and again the follow up was cleared after a scramble. We had them under the cosh but you just knew it wasn't going to be our day when Tehoue was played clean through but could only smack the ball against Phillips' legs. Another gilt-edged chance wasted.
Time ebbed away. Holmes was looking lively, but Crewe were content to hold onto their 2-goal cushion. More chances came the way of our potential goal-machine Tehoue. He somehow contrived to find Crewe train station from 12 yards with a conversion and then was denied at the back post with a last gasp deflection when it looked easier to score. ho-hum.
We played out four minutes injury time but there was to be no consolation and Crewe went away deserved winnners for their performance in the first hour or so. We were poor but I'm glad we've got a game this Tuesday to get back on track. 2nd place Torquay visit the CG in what I regard as a 'must win' game. It is still in our hands, there is no need to panic, let's just file this defeat under 'bad day at the office' and move on.