Match report posted by Richard (view the full thread on the forum )
A second half capitulation prompted some of the most depressing scenes I have ever witnessed at the County Ground - fans turning on the players and the manager as Swindon's relegation looms ever nearer, after losing 2-1 at home to fellow relegation strugglers Notts County.
It all started brightly enough - though initial indications were that Hart had stuck with his much maligned 4-5-1 formation, in actual fact it was much more akin to 4-4-2 - Matt Ritchie far more advanced than in previous weeks. The difference was almost immediately apparent - other than an early disallowed goal for County, it was the home side who were on the front foot during the early exchanges. Michael Rose had two early efforts - one a volley that was dragged wide, the second a good effort from a free-kick, that had the keeper scrambling low to save. Twice, Swindon forced County defenders to clear dangerously over their own crossbar.
The best chance though fell to Calvin Andrew. Latching onto a poor clearance, Andrew found himself behind the defence - his first touch encouraged the goalkeeper off his line, but Andrew got there first to take it round him - but this time his touch was too heavy, taking him too wide. He didn't connect well with his shot, and though it would have rolled in, a defender easily got back to clear.
From the resulting corner though, the Town took the lead. Sheehan played the ball right over to the far corner of the box, where McGovern was standing - he cut the ball onto his left, and the crowd, expecting a shot, groaned as he played it out to Prutton on the edge of the area. The ball went back out left, and a cross went to the back post - seemingly eluding everyone - but McGovern performed a superbly executed bicycle kick across the face of goal - Ritchie meeting it on the far post to score.
The goal came just as the initial wave of Swindon pressure appeared to be waning - and the game did go through a lull after it, and County got into a couple of good positions - often helped by some generous Town defending - in one move in particular, both Cuthbert and Caddis failed to clear their lines, and from the corner that resulted, County nearly equalised - a header at the back post going over from close range. Ben Burgess also scuffed a shot wide from a decent position before the half was out. That said, we went in at half time with a deserved lead.
Within a few minutes of the restart, Swindon came oh-so-close to doubling their advantage. After forcing a corner on the right, the ball was stood up to the edge of the area, in a repeat of the corner routine we witnessed a couple of weeks ago - this time, Jon Douglas met the ball perfectly on the volley, and his strike thundered towards goal, cannoning down off the crossbar and away. Had it had gone in, it would possibly have been the best goal ever seen at the CG... what's a man got to do to score??!? A few minutes later, a nice move down the left side with McGovern and Ritchie again ended with an effort from Douglas - this time his shot whistled past the post.
By now, County had changed things around and gone more attacking in an attempt to salvage something from the game - Hart had attempted to counter that with a very strange set up - Rose, who had started in midfield, went back to left back, Sheehan moved from the left to the right, Caddis pushed from right back to right midfield, McGovern switched from the right to the left flank, and Ritchie dropped back from midfield. For a side that seemed pretty settled, it seemed like a bizarre set of changes to make - and again, we ended up with players on the opposite side to their usual positions. County were having more of the play, but still hadn't threatened the Town goal.... that was until the 78th minute.
Hart made his first substitution of the afternoon, with County in position with a throw-in in an attacking position - and the intention was obviously to try and shore things up - withdrawing Ritchie for the more defensively minded Michael Timlin. Within seconds, the ball was in the Town net - after the throw was taken, Alan Judge swung a cross into the box from deep - just in that no man's land position between the defence and the goalkeeper. It looked like Lee Hughes was going to get a touch, but he didn't.... instead the ball eluded everyone before bouncing into the bottom corner out of the reach of Lucas. Still County hadn't had a shot on target.... but they were on level terms - it was a kick in the teeth.
If that was bad though, it got a whole lot worse a few minutes later. Frustratingly, Hart now chose to bring on a striker, but in doing so he withdrew McGovern - and with it the only remaining creativity in the midfield. I'm not entirely sure if Benyon touched the ball. Anyway - rather than the few seconds it took between substitution and goal conceded just earlier, it took at least a minute this time before County took the lead. David Lucas in goal had obviously taken a knock, and opted to play the ball out to Jean-Francois rather than the long ball forward that some of the crowd were baying for. LJF played the ball square to Cuthbert, and from then on, it all went pear shaped - Cuthbert was robbed in possession by Hughes, who bore down on goal, ending with the simple task of rounding Lucas and tapping home.
There was an immediate reaction from the home support - the booing drowning out the away celebrations, followed by chants of "one-nil and you f***ed it up" - the tone turning aggressive very quickly as the frustrations came to the surface. Douglas reacted by sarcastically clapping the home fans, more chants of "you're not fit to wear the shirt" soon followed. The game was delayed as the Notts County players had kicked the corner flag away in their celebrations - something was going on behind the dugouts, and a police presence appeared between the Swindon dugout and the supporters behind. I understand people are angry, but I really don't understand the booing of the players - yes, we're down, but it seems like every single week there are a number of fans who feel the need to jeer their own team.... do people really think that it's going to make them play any better, or make them want to do well?
There was five minutes of injury time, but it was of little relevance. The referee's whistle sounded, and the jeers sounded off again. The table shows that we have comfortably been the worst side in the division this season - I still find it unfathomable that we find ourselves in such a position. At 4:40 this afternoon, the great escape was back on.... by 4:50, virtually the final nail had gone into the coffin.