A match report from Swindon Link's STFC correspondent Alfie Howlett.
Charlie Austin's homecoming inspired a managerless Swindon to their greatest victory of the season.
On his second debut Charlie Austin opened the scoring to put Swindon on track for a remarkable five-goal victory over ten men Grimsby. Goals from Marcel Lavinier, Jonny Williams, Ronan Darcy, and Saidou Khan meant that for the second year running Swindon notched five goals in their first game at the County Ground, of the calendar year.
Having seen manager Scott Lindsey depart for Crawley Town in mid week Swindon found themselves with Gavin Gunning and Steve Mildenhall in temporary change of the dugout.
Charlie Austin was brought into the team as one of five changes featuring an attack heavy line up. The visitors Grimsby arrived at SN1 in a jubilant mood after booking a place in the FA Cup fourth round last weekend. The scene was set for a captivating contest infront of a 11,000 strong crowd.
Inside two minutes, Sol Brynn was on hand to deny the Mariners from spoiling the party as he tipped over a dangerous Gavan Holohan half volley. Three minutes later Saidou Khan had his dancing shoes as he skipped through some challenges to unleash a curling effort from the edge of the box which struck the inside of the post. The half then saw a delay as referee Sam Purkiss was stretchered off after receiving a knockout blow from a clearance.
Once the game resumed Town fans didn't have to wait too long for the moment they came to see. On 25 minutes, Charlie Austin rolled back the years to open the scoring. A pitch perfect Remeao Hutton cross found Austin who firmly headed home from close rang. It gave him and Town a dream start.
Austin was later involved in the next highlight of the game. The strikers sublime through ball found the run of Jacob Wakeling who found himself charging down on the Grimsby goal. However, Wakeling was cynically brought down by Danny Amos outside the box resulting in a straight red for the Grimsby full back.
With Grimsby down to 10 they had their keeper to thank for the fact that the margin remained at one goal. Another excellent Hutton cross on 37 minutes caused havoc in the Grimsby penalty area causing a wicked deflection which the finger tips of Max Crocombe denied from nestling in the top corner.
Two minutes before the break Grimsby had a guilt edged opportunity to draw level when John McAtee somehow poked wide from five yards. It meant that Swindon went in to the interval with a one goal advantage.
The second half saw the Grimsby woodwork get a good workout. The first two times went against Swindon’s favor. Two minutes into the half Charlie Austin rattled the crossbar from a tight angle with a powerful effort. Then five minutes later Jonny Williams slotted a fine through ball towards Rushian Hepburn-Murphy who stabbed an attempt against the post. However, the third time would be a charm.
Just past the hour mark mark a Remeao Hutton cross was expertly volleyed home by substitute Marcel Lavinier inside the box off into the bottom corner off the post. Four minutes after the second Swindon had their third of the afternoon courtesy of Jonny Williams. Hepburn-Murphy burst into the box and had a low left footed effort well saved by Crocombe, but Welsh international Williams was on hand to convert the rebound from point blank range.
With Town growing ever more confident and Grimsby craving the full time whistle there was more goals to come. Swindon's fourth saw them again bask in the luck of the draw with Ronan Darcy's effort 1v1 coming off the inside of the post.
It came after Tyrese Shade terrorised the Grimsby back line with a driving run before off loading the ball to fellow substitute Darcy to smash home. The Robins would complete their five-star showing with a fifth goal as Saidou Khan rounded off a stellar personal performance. Khan dribbled past the Grimsby defence into the box where he fired into the top left hand corner for his first goal in Swindon colours.
In the face of adversity Swindon executed a brilliant performance to perfection. It was a performance which consisted of the attacking, free flowing, energetic intent that's been lacking all season. And all of a sudden after just 90 minutes and a Charlie Austin goal the atmosphere around the club has completely changed. It was a gamble starting three strikers in the starting eleven but it was a gamble which more than paid off.