As the full time whistle blew on New Year’s Day at the County Ground condemning Town to another defeat, not many Swindon fans would’ve predicted the upturn in form we’ve seen in just two months.
After the Exeter defeat Richie Wellens’ side sat nine points off the playoffs and just three points from 17th place in League Two.
But a combination of time to work on the manager’s style of play and new additions in January see Swindon four points from the playoffs with a game in hand after suffering just one defeat in the past eight games.
After struggling the previous week at home to Grimsby, loanee Ali Koiki found himself on the bench and replaced by Luke Woolfenden on Saturday, a switch that proved to be the right one as the Ipswich loanee scored a goal, earned a clean sheet and picked up the man of the match award.
The 20-year-old defender has recently recovered from a minor injury and found it difficult to budge either new signing Tom Broadbent or Dion Conroy from the starting eleven, and took his chance at fullback well with an impressive performance.
I was hoping Town would have a chance of signing the defender on a permanent deal at the end of the season, but with him recently signing a contract extension at Ipswich and the East Anglian club on their way to League One next season I can see him playing an important role in their efforts to escape the third tier.
It wasn’t just are on-loan defender who impressed on Saturday, Dion Conroy also played a key role, especially his cross field pass out of defence which lead to James Dunne’s superb cross and the already mentioned Woolfenden doubling Town’s lead.
The former Chelsea man has enjoyed an extended run in the first team starting the last four games, and has rewarded his manager with some impressive performances including an assist for Theo Robinson’s goal vs. Grimsby.
After suffering a horrendous injury in September 2017 there was some doubt he would return the same player, but after some dicey performances earlier in the season it seems the 23-year-old defender is approaching that form we saw when he first arrived in Wiltshire, let’s hope he can keep fit as his partnership with Broadbent has seen Town concede only one goal in their last three games.
The other major positive to come from this past Saturday and the previous two home games is the connection between the team and the fans seem to be returning.
The club’s dreadful home form over the past two years has caused a disconnect between those in the stands and the players they watch every week, but two wins and a draw has seen some of the atmosphere return to the County Ground and fans showing their appreciation at full-time instead of a handful of players clapping empty stands.
This Saturday’s encounter away at Carlisle is a huge game as both clubs fight for a spot inside the top seven.
With the Cumbrian side failing to win any of their last five and Town undefeated in their last four it will be a tight contest, and one we know Wellens’ side can come away from with maximum points if they keep to their footballing principles.