January was a tough month for being a Swindon fan on and off the field. I am slightly happy that the month is over, and we can concentrate on things on the pitch rather than ITK twitter account getting things oh so horribly wrong during the transfer window.
It all started on New year day with a trip to Plymouth which felt like months ago. Its been a stressful month being a town fan, but a great away win at one of the rivals for Automatic promotion started the year well and it was needed after a poor performance just a few days before away at Port Vale. Just a few days later was the Bradford game where to be honest, it was a game to far for both clubs after the horrid Christmas/New year football league schedule which was brutal. The game wasn’t eye catching and it ended up being a draw. Your thinking as a Swindon fan, 4 points from two games. What could be worse.
Just days before the Crewe Alexandra home game was the news that most Swindon fans were dreading which was the Eoin Doyle loan recall back to Bradford. I Don’t think some Swindon fans took it well and my friend was one of them, saying that he should strike and not bother turning up for training. This was the right move from Bradford, they had to do it as they were made to look embarrassed after loaning a player out to your rivals and he bagged 20 plus goals in the same amount of games. It just made sense, just imagine a few weeks down the line it really didn’t work out for Doyle back at Bradford and he made his triumphant return to Swindon just before the deadline day.
Without Eoin Doyle, it started off with a bang with a brilliant 3-1 home win over Crewe which included a proper strikers goal from Jerry Yates, an absolute thunderbolt into the top corner from the edge of the area. A week later was the real acid test, a trip to Newport County which Swindon in recent times always struggle. A 2-0 away defeat which was deflating, but you felt that this was just a blip. We normally find it quite hard against Newport County in recent season and Mike Flynn. The style of play always puts Swindon on the back foot and we tend to struggle with the physicality. Plus, the home side adapted so much better to the conditions, the pitch wasn’t great as there was a rugby game played on it the day before.
A week later, I think in my eyes Swindon put in a complete performance against Port Vale, a few days before hand Jerry Yates was called back to his parent club Rotherham United for cover as the Millers were struggling with injuries in their push for promotion back to Championship. So, without Doyle and Yates It was a convincing 3-0 which included a first goal of the season from last season top scorer Michael Doughty. A peach of a free kick which was the gloss to the Swindon performance.
The last game in January and this schedule against Teams around Swindon was a midweek away trip to Essex and to Colchester. As I did, I think most Swindon fans followed this game on I follow, it was a really good performance for seventy minutes and deserved to be ahead. But Colchester made three very attacking changes and Swindon XI which were out their struggled to adapt to Colchester subs and buckled to three late goals. All three goals scored by ex-Swindon players. Oh, the agony.
The days leading into the top of the table clash was brilliant, especially at 5pm on the Wednesday and on the Thursday. With both Jerry Yates and Eoin Doyle returning to SN1. Doyle on a permanent deal to the end of the season and Yates on a loan till the end of the season. There was a sense of optimism going into Saturday game with Exeter and there was no room for disappointment.
Saturday game with Exeter wasn’t a classic, a howling win ruined the game for both fans and the players. But what the game lacked wasn’t an atmosphere, a packed-out County Ground was a wonderful sight to see. It was good to the see the ground rocking and getting behind the team. There is a sense of optimism and belief with this Swindon side that good things are just around the corner.
A lot of that work goes down to Richie Wellens and his team, Paul Jewell and the chairman Lee Power who backed his manager in the transfer window. Quality singings were added to the squad to push this side for promotion. Paul Caddis and Anthony Grant on permanent deals was a masterstroke, both are natural born leaders on the pitch. Loan signing of Rarmani Edmonds-Green has added depth and cover to the central defence, a lot of times this season we have looked short of bodies in the defence and had to re-jig. Matt Palmer free transfer after his contract from Rotherham will add a bit of depth and quality to the midfield. Be a good option to come off the bench and will more than likely be rotated into the side later in the season. The attacking options have been bolstered with permanent signing of Hallam Hope who has hit the ground running with two goals in three games, Admiral Muskwe will help with the burden of the CF role along with the returning Eoin Doyle and what a reception he got with Jerry Yates on Saturday. The boys are back together.
Last Saturday saw a wonderful bumper ground back at County Ground and I hope some of them return for the remaining of the season starting with the home game with Scunthorpe, would love to see an attendance of over 10,000 for that game. A big crowd to get behind the players and help with the momentum for promotion out of league two to league one.
Up the Swin.
Article kindly written by Scott Monroe.