Defensive errors cost Town again

By Alfie Howlett - 19 February 2024

Sport

A match report by Swindon Town correspondent Alfie Howlett

MK Dons were in dreamland when Stephen Wearne caught the Town back line napping twice within the opening eight minutes to bag a brace. Charlie Austin’s late header was unable to spark a revival with Swindon tactically outclassed all game.

Town entered the contest in high spirits following Harry McKirdy’s last minute equaliser away at Gillingham in midweek. Meanwhile, The Dons were seeking to get their promotion push back on track after a 4-0 defeat at Bradford. 

The noticeable change for Swindon came in the shape of Aaron Drinan starting upfront in place of Charlie Austin. Amongst the visitors starting eleven, there were familiar faces in Jack Payne, Dan Kemp, and Joe Tomlinson. 

The contest got underway with Swindon gifting MK Dons the opener inside four minutes. Having easily played through the Swindon press, a Dan Kemp ball down the line from halfway offered a chase for Kyran Lofthouse. Lofthouse would be the beneficiary of a calamitous mix up between Conor McCarthy and Jack Bycroft with both players leaving the ball to one another. Lofthouse soon stole in to square it to Stephen Wearne for the easiest of tap ins.

Swindon continued to architect their own downfall when MK Dons and Stephen Wearne added their second just three minutes later. Dan Kemp, for someone of his quality, was afforded far too much space to pick a cross to the back post where Wearne closed into convert from point blank range. Once again, the Town back line were like statues.

The Robins attempted to respond in the 13th minute when Udoka Godwin-Malife had a strong effort from range drift just shy of the far post. Minutes later Paul Glatzel had a goal bound effort inside the box blocked for a corner.

In truth Swindon were struggling to create clear cut chances and they looked vulnerable in defence. In my opinion this was entirely down to the formation. Swindon’s 4-2-2-2 saw the two in the centre of midfield, McEachran and Khan, with too much work to do both offensively and defensively. In addition, on several occasions Swindon were guilty at playing the wrong ball at the right times. This frustrating theme would continue until the half time whistle.

The first noteworthy action of the second half came shy of the hour mark. Within seconds of his introduction from the bench, Harry McKirdy almost made an instant impact when his shot was blocked from a Godwin-Malife ball. 

However, despite having an array of strikers on the pitch, Swindon rarely troubled Kelly in the MK Dons goal. It took until the 81st minute for the first clear cut opening of the half. Second half substitute Zac Elbouzedi did well to get to the byline and float a tempting delivery into the box where Aaron Drinan headed wide with the goal gaping.

Swindon did eventually get themselves on the scoreline in the 89th minute. A good Godwin-Malife cross was met by the head of Austin who timed his run to perfection. It would give the four additional minutes greater jeopardy. 

However, the goal would prove a consolation with Town unable to pull a rabbit from the hat.

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