Author: Guest writer for the Trust Scott Munroe
May 11th, 2015 will go down in EFL playoff history as two attacking sides played out a 10-goal thriller which left everyone in attendance at the county ground that evening speechless.
Swindon went into the semi final second leg with a 2-1 away win thanks to stoppage time winner from Nathan Byrne which sent the travelling fans behind the goal into delirium. Little did we know what to expect in the next two hours.
Swindon came out the blocks quickly and raced into a 3-0 lead. Ben Gladwin with a quick double, the first an absolute thunderbolt from the edge of the box. The second a close-range tap in after excellent work from Nathan Byrne down the right-hand side. Michael Smith added a third with just seventeen minutes gone and turned the tie completely out of Sheffield United grasp. But this is Swindon Town and we always do things the hard way. A cruel Nathan Thompson own goal and an excellent Chris Basham diving header gave Sheffield United hope.
Michael Smith penalty on the hour managed to calm the nerves for about five minutes as Sheffield United never say die attitude showed up again. Steve Davies back post header made it 4-3 and there was still twenty-five minutes left to and still many twists and turns left. With the security check going over the loudspeaker, Swindon broke with Massimo Luongo who played in Jonathan Obika. Obika still had a lot of work to do, he danced past two Sheffield United defenders and side footed his effort into the bottom corner.
With that Swindon goal, the tie should have been over, and we could have had a relaxing joyful last six minutes plus added time. But Sheffield United hit back with two quick goals in two minutes, Matt Done with a cracking left footed effort after pinball in the Swindon defence. Che Adams then added the tenth goal of the game with a fantastic solo effort. Close to nine minutes of stoppage time went and Swindon got through to the play off final.
An absolute crazy game of football and in my eyes the best game of football I witnessed following Swindon town. It was so emotionally draining, the next few days were an absolute struggle. Before the game I don’t know how I got through work, the anxiety and nerves kicked in. watching that game for 90 minutes didn’t help.
The final just thirteen days later was just a horrible memory, Swindon were outfought and outplayed by a hungry Preston side and 4-0 was a deserving score line. That was the end of this exciting Swindon town side who played a very attractive 3-5-2 formation which won them plaudits. But the years since it has been a downward spiral.
A lower mid-table season followed in 2015-16 and then relegation to league two followed the next season. I went away to Walsall on my 30th birthday on the Easter Monday and it was one of the worst games of football I have ever seen, there was no fight in the players and just a few days later relegation was confirmed after a home defeat to Scunthorpe. The next 16 months in league two were mediocre at best under David Flitcroft and Phil Brown, but now under Richie Wellens there is a plan and a system put in place for Swindon Town to do well next season and push for promotion, but we will have to see.
On the other side the rise of Sheffield United has been fantastic, Chris Wilder since he has taken over has guided Sheffield United to two promotions in three seasons. Sheffield United won league 1 at a canter. His first season in the Championship, the club consolidated and finished 10th. But this season they kicked on and won promotion back to the topflight with a game to spare. Chris Wilder has come in and played an expansive 3-5-2 formation with over lapping centre halves and its brilliant to watch.
The contrasting differences to what both clubs have gone through in the last 4 years has been frightening. Swindon Town have regressed in the last few years and will play a third season in league two. Sheffield United will be entertaining the big boys of the premier league at Bramall lane.
Written by Scott Monroe, guest writer for the Trust.