Town’s exceptional away record picked up more momentum at the weekend as Ben Garner’s side controlled their Bristolian opponents and deservedly took home the three points.
Apart from the opening 10 minutes, Town dominated every area of the contest, with Garner’s side creating plenty of chances, but as we’ve seen at other points in the season, Town was lacking in the six-yard box.
Thankfully just before the hour mark Jack Payne’s persistence paid off as his close finish levelled up the contest, thankfully Town never took their foot off the Gas and they were rewarded as a Rovers handball with five minutes left gave Ben Gladwin the chance from the penalty spot, and his pinpoint strike gave Town the lead.
A couple of minutes later substitute Harry McKirdy secured the points as another superb Kaine Kesler-Hayden run and cross was dropped into McKirdy’s path by the Rovers keeper to secure another away win and lift Town to fifth in League Two.
The result sees Town with the second-best away record in League Two, but on the other side, we sit 21st with our results at home, something that needs to be addressed in a couple of weeks.
Harry McKirdy’s time at Town has been very stop-start with injuries affecting his time at the County Ground, with yesterday’s appearance his first in just under a month, and when he’s involved either from the bench or starting, he’s someone you can’t take your eyes off.
He reminds me of a bygone era, an old-fashioned attacking midfielder who never stops running takes risks, gives everything, and who has already become a firm fan’s favourite, a real maverick.
But I don’t yet see him as a key player over the season, he’s more of an impact player who comes on and can change a game, sometimes he will make that impact from the start of a game, but I see his best role as he was used at the weekend.
But McKirdy will get a chance next weekend as Town travels to the top of the table Forest Green Rovers without four first team players, with the player he replaced on Saturday a surprise international call-up.
Due to these call-ups Jojo Wollacott (Ghana), Jonny Williams (Wales), Alex Gilbert (Ireland U21), and Anthony Grant (Jamacia) will all be missing and due to the game being live on Sky Sports Swindon are unable to request a postponement from the EFL.
Which on first inspection sounds incredibly short-sighted, as it seems crazy to accept these conditions knowing the fixture couldn’t be rearranged without so many key players.
But as revealed by Ben Garner the club knew Grant and Williams would be called up, but they didn’t expect Wollacott and Gilbert to be heading off to play international football, somewhat explaining the club’s position.
Losing the club’s current best performer in Wollacott is a huge blow as he’s singlehandedly kept us in games this season, and when visiting top of the table you need your best team.
Thankfully Lewis Ward has shown he’s a decent back-up and I’m sure will do a good job, Gilbert is another player who’s been impressive since his arrival, but after his performance at the weekend, McKirdy has shown he deserves a chance in Garner’s side, it’s all down to him whether he can become that first-team regular.