The last few days have been disastrous on and off the pitch for Swindon Town, they return onto the pitch on Saturday afternoon to stop the rot against arch nemesis Steve Evans and his Gillingham side.
The derby loss against Oxford United left a sour taste in the mouth and in honest it was a total embarrassment. From start to finish Karl Robinson Oxford United side was in total control and it would have been a travesty if Swindon managed to steal a point at the end. Brett Pitman had a second half penalty saved; he did not look confident in taking it. I am surprised that someone like Paul Caddis did not take the penalty as he has scored from the spot for Swindon before in his first stint at the County Ground.
Everything about Tuesday performance was poor, no attempt to put Oxford United under pressure, no pressing and no attacking with real intent and put Oxford United under pressure. Instead, we just crumbled under pressure and resorted to long ball football and it was just horrible to watch. Dinosaur tactics and football to a bygone era which has passed us by. What annoyed me was at 2-0 down after 85 minutes you take off both of your CB for two other CB, what was the point of that. You could have changed your tactics and stick either Dion Conroy or Tom Broadbent up front. Nope you just embarrassed both of your players by taking them off with 5 minutes left and what did it achieve. Absolutely nothing
The one telling thing I will take away from this defeat was the post-match conference from assistant Tommy Wright. It is living rent free in my head; the clip has gone viral over the last few days. “They’re not Children, they are men one is captain one is 6ft 5. They’re not children”. He seemed a little rattled in the post-match press conference, it has been the same story for the last few months now. Snarky comments to the written press and the Radio guys have gotten worse as this season has gone on. The Atmosphere around this club now is toxic and will get worse as the season ends. The relationship between the club and its fans is at an all-time low, after all the hard work done by Richie Wellens and co in the previous 18 months is being ripped apart in just 4 months. It is a sorry sight to see.
On that relationship between the fans and the club, it does not help when the club send out a weak poor statement over the banning of the Swindon Advertiser sports reporter Jonny Leighfield. Jonny was banned from asking questions pre and post games after he wrote a piece online about an incident that happened during halftime of the Accrington Stanley game where two players got into a disagreement. On Thursday Swindon Town released a statement saying it was not true and demanded an apology at the end of the statement. I do not believe that a sports reporter would lie about getting banned from asking questions pre and post games. Imagine losing a a420 derby to Oxford United and that was not the worst thing that happened this week. Absolute shambles.
Lee Camp was announced today to have signed for Swindon Town till the end of the season, Camp will be the 7th Goalkeeper signed by Swindon Town this season.
Predicted line up XI 4-2-3-1
Camp, Caddis, Conroy, Broadbent, Thompson, Palmer, Grant, Garrick, Twine, Payne, Pitman
Gillingham travel to County Ground on Saturday afternoon and they are in 13th place in the league one standings with 47 points from 34 games. A win on Saturday will take Steve Evans’s side to the magical 50 points.
Gillingham recent run of 7 games has been a plus for Steve Evans, 4 wins 2 defeats and a draw has seen Gillingham rise from 16th to as high of 11th in the league one standings. 4 wins were away at the Valley 3-2 against Charlton Athletic, a home 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers. 2 home wins over Ipswich and MK Dons to start the month of March. The sole draw was a 1-1 draw away at Portsmouth in the final game of February. The two defeats were away at AFC Wimbledon 1-0 and on Tuesday night away at Fleetwood town where Gillingham dropped from 11th to 13th in the league standings.
Steve Evans has switched his tactics up this season but has now settled on the 4-2-3-1 formation to good effect. Evans has switched from a 4-3-3, a 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2 this season and has finally found a formula in the 4-2-3-1.
The key players to watch out for in this Gillingham side:
French Striker Vadaine Oliver has been involved in 14 goals in 32 league appearances this season with 9 goals and 5 assists. Oliver is coming into this game at the County Ground in incredibly good from with 4 goals in his last 4 games, that included a brace against Ipswich Town and goals against Portsmouth and MK Dons. He has already been a thorn against Swindon Town this season by scoring in the reverse fixture in early December and will be a constant threat against brittle low in confidence Swindon Town side.
The second and final player to watch out for in this Gillingham side is former U17 England international Jordan Graham. The left winger who can also play on the right-hand side of attack but is more used on the left has been involved 12 goals in 27 league appearances. 8 goals and 4 assists this season, Graham started the season well with 4 goals and 1 assist in his opening 5 games but has found scoring a bit tougher as the season has progressed with 4 goals in the last 22 league games.
This has been a horrible start to the month of March for Swindon Town, all the hard work done at the end of February is being thrown away in a matter of weeks and it is tough to watch, this is a massive game coming up and a positive result on the pitch will start mending the fans relationship with the club. A negative result will see more hostility to the manager, the owner, and the club official accounts on social media.
By Scot Munroe