Another extraordinary away day showing from Ben Garner’s side sees this unforgettable season extended by at least two more games, as 3,590 Town fans took over the Bescot Stadium in one of the best atmospheres I’ve witnessed following the club.
From start to finish, the amazing away support didn’t stop singing and cheering on their side, and this translated onto the pitch as Town dominated from minute one, and never looked like giving up their hard-earned playoff spot.
Mandela Egbo again was a shining light throughout the afternoon as his amazing solo run set up Harry McKirdy to open the scoring and send the Town faithful into raptures, just over 20 minutes later, Jack Payne again showed what he is all about, as he struck a fierce shot past the hapless Saddlers keeper.
On the stroke of half-time, McKirdy was played through but is fouled in the box, handing Payne the opportunity to end the game as a contest, which he took, dispatching his penalty into the bottom corner.
Despite a few half-hearted chances from the home side, Town never looked in trouble in the second half, which led to the classic pitch invasion to celebrate our sixth-place finish in League Two.
After such a hate-filled, poisonous 2020/21 campaign, it’s quite remarkable how things have managed to turn around in such a short space of time, huge credit goes to Director of Football Ben Chorley who with the management team put together such a talented squad, including some inspired signings late in the season.
Mandela Egbo has had an amazing couple of months since his arrival, he’s managed to become a firm fan favourite after playing less than ten games for the club, with his undoubted ability on the pitch and likeable character off it, as he’s more than happy to interact with the Town faithful.
Despite what league we’re playing in next season, I would happily offer him a new deal now, as the 24-year-old is someone who can become a key player moving forwards.
With the dust now settling after the excitement of Saturday, attention move to this Sunday, when Town will be welcoming Port Vale to Wiltshire.
By the time you’ve read this, the question of ticket allocation might have been answered, but it looks like Swindon will be keeping the Stratton Bank for home fans next weekend, which would be a great decision by the club.
Having the Bank bouncing against Barrow made a huge difference to the atmosphere, having home fans at both ends for the biggest match of the season so far and our first playoff game in seven years will be vital, Town has to capitalise on this huge feel-good factor around the club, and once again try and sell out the County Ground.
This will have implications for the away leg the following Thursday, as away fans normally get the 4,500-seater stand at Vale Park, but I can see that given to home fans, and if Port Vale can fill that stand with home fans, you can’t blame them.
Hopefully, Town will be given at least a couple of thousand seats, the same as Vale supporters will be handed at SN1.
Both legs are shaping up to be tasty encounters, with Vale taking the points at the County Ground last September, with Garner’s side earning a 3-1 win in early 2022.
Hopefully, a sold-out County Ground this coming Sunday will inspire Town to another memorable playoff game in Wiltshire, and set them up perfectly for the away leg four days later.