LINK Sport’s Sam Morshead reflects on Swindon Town’s 3-2 defeat to Plymouth Argyle in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by picking out five things we can take from the game at Home Park…
1. Anton Rodgers isn’t just a Premier League manager’s son
Perhaps naturally, the signing of Anton Rodgers in the summer looked in part like a manufactured catalyst for the arrival of Brad Smith on loan from Liverpool, after all Rodgers’s father Brendan is the boss at Anfield and we all like to put two and two together as quickly as possible. While that might still bear an element of truth, the midfielder’s performance at Home Park made it abundantly clear that Rodgers has the ability and talent to slot into this Town team very nicely indeed. He showed a good range of passing, tidy close control and a willingness to track back to defend and will make an able deputy for Yaser Kasim on this display.
2. Town’s defence still needs plenty of work
Risk football is the order of the day at the County Ground in 2014/15 and, in taking risks, Swindon have certainly been rewarded thus far this term. However, the way the team plays – passing out of defence with an abandon teetering between reckless and ridiculous (a good kind of ridiculous) lends itself to the odd blunder. Over the course of the last three weeks, as Town racked up four wins on the spin, those individual errors weren’t punished. At Home Park they were and, as a result, the Robins had Everest to climb in the second half. We don’t want Swindon to stop doing what they’re doing, neither does the team’s manager, but it’s evident that we’re still some way off perfection.
3. Swindon’s media army is occupying press boxes across the country
There aren’t many League One sides who can boast so a travelling mass of so many different media outlets. In addition to Link Sport – the youngest of the bunch – BBC Wiltshire, the Swindon Advertiser and FLIC Wiltshire make regular trips with the team. Throw into the equation the club’s press officer, Tom Otrebski, and we’re certainly taking others by surprise. At Plymouth, Town’s press and radio corps outnumbered Argyle’s two to one. It’s been like that on most matchdays, too. Sustainable or not, at least the club is getting plenty of exposure.
4. Even pre-match entertainment suffers in the JPT
Before last night’s game, Plymouth’s cheerleaders took to the Home Park pitch to dance for the 2,800 “strong” crowd. The trouble was, there were only three of them. Speaking to sources close to the troupe – the Argyle press – there are usually more than double that number amongst their ranks. It seems, as is normal with the JPT, the pompom bearers chose to stay at home for this one. Or perhaps they were rested by their manager.
5. The Robins have players who can change a game
In an odd match that Town more or less dominated yet still found themselves three goals down at the break, manager Mark Cooper was able to turn to players on the bench who could completely shift the dynamic of the side. Michael Smith and Ben Gladwin emerged off the bench to take up good positions in the box and provide incisive passes and the Swindon’s shape was much improved as a result. That the team were missing Nathan Byrne, Massimo Luongo and Yaser Kasim and still produced good, aggressive, attacking football shows that Town are not reliant on one set of players. There were positives to be had despite the eventual scoreline.