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nnounced as one of a trio of arrivals during the 2012/13 pre-season, Collins was one of Town boss Paolo di Canio’s first signings following promotion to League One, the striker admitting that the opportunity to play for di Canio was the main factor in his decision to turn down a new deal at Shrewsbury, who had also been promoted from League Two. After missing the opening game of the season whilst on international duty with the Irish under-21 squad, Collins made his debut as a second half substitute in a goalless draw at Hartlepool, before making his full debut for the Town three days later in a 3-0 home victory over Crawley.
A week later, Collins netted his first goals for Swindon in some style - scoring a hat-trick to help the Town to a 4-3 victory at Premier League Stoke in the Carling Cup - despite this though, his place in the starting eleven was far from secure - throughout September and into the middle of October, Collins was either substituted or was named on the bench in every game - including being withdrawn in the first half at Portsmouth, a decision that the striker was clearly unhappy about.
Two days later, a tribunal decided that Swindon would have to pay Shrewsbury an initial £140,000 for Collins’ services, plus incremental payments depending on appearances - but though Town chairman Jeremy Wray admitted he was happy with the deal and the Shrews clearly not, the fact that the combined fees for Collins and Troy Archibald-Henville (whose fee was also set by the same panel) had to be paid upfront caused the Town to go over their submitted playing budget for the season - it was later revealed that the club was put under a transfer embargo as a result. The week after the fee was set, Collins started for the Town at his former club, but though Swindon returned with a 1-0 victory, it was a game to forget for Collins, who was jeered throughout by fans who took great pleasure when he missed a gilt-edged chance before being substituted.
It was the eleventh game of the season before Collins finally opened his League account - a fine strike from outside the area just 25 seconds into a game at Bury that proved to be the only goal of the game - the goal sparking a mini goal spurt from the striker, who netted in both of his next two games, including his first goal at the County Ground against his boyhood club Coventry, which prompted Collins to rip his shirt off and run toward the travelling support in celebration, as his late goal secured a point for the Town having been two behind. Collins later dedicated the goal to his best friend, also a Coventry fan, who had died just weeks previously.
It was another month before Collins found the net again - this time scoring a brace in a 4-1 win over Yeovil - but with the transfer embargo now lifted, di Canio brought in striker Chris Martin on loan, and when Collins’ usual strike partner Andy Williams returned to fitness after a knee injury, Collins was benched for the whole of December. An incredible goalscoring feat saw him break back into the first team though - on New Years’ Day, after being introduced as a sub on the hour with the deadlock yet to be broken against Portsmouth, Collins took less than a minute to open the scoring, going on to net the first League hat-trick of his career in just thirteen minutes, before netting a fourth in a crazy 22 minute spell. The goals helped the Town to their second 5-0 victory in as many games, and keeping his place in the side, Collins netted again in the Town’s next game, a 4-0 win over Carlisle. The goals took the Irishman clear as the Town’s top scorer for the season with twelve goals up to that point - seven of which had come in just two matches, and nine in three!
Despite this, Collins was still unable to hold down his place under di Canio - when Martin’s loan spell expired, Collins was replaced by Adam Rooney in a televised game at Crawley, and when he went on to net the equaliser from the penalty spot in an impressive performance, Collins was one of only four players named on the bench for the trip to Colchester three days later. Collins came off the bench at half time to net the winner within eight minutes of coming on, and though he remained on the bench for the following game, it proved to be the last under di Canio - the Italian resigning from his position. Collins was restored to the starting line-up for a top-of-the-table clash at Tranmere, where he netted the Town’s first goal - the first game in a run of five where he was named in the first eleven, his longest run in the side since the opening weeks of the season.
However, the form of Adam Rooney soon persuaded new boss Kevin MacDonald that it was he that should start up front in his favoured 4-5-1 formation - so from the middle of March until the end of the season, Collins started just three games - defeats at Doncaster, Sheffield United and in the final game of the season at Scunthorpe, where he scored to give Swindon the lead with just seven minutes remaining, only for the hosts to net three times in the last three minutes. With the Town finishing sixth in the table, they went head-to-head with Brentford in the play-offs - when the game finished level on aggregate, Collins’ final competitive action in a Town shirt was to net in the penalty shootout, Miles Storey missing what proved to be the decisive spot kick.
Over the summer, the club seemed to be eager to get Collins off the wage bill, as the new board looked to cut the playing budget - the Irishman utilised in the centre of midfield more often than not in the Town’s pre-season programme - before he was finally allowed to join Scottish Premier League side Hibernian for a fee of £200,000.
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