Swindon fall short in Boxing Day bonanza
After James McClean put the visitors ahead in front of a full house, both sides failed to capitalise on glorious opportunities to extend the scoring as the ten men of Wrexham took all 3 points.
In what is a staple of the football calendar, Swindon welcomed a promotion chasing Wrexham for a Boxing Day clash at The County Ground. The two sides went into the match in contrasting form, Swindon were winless in December meanwhile Wrexham were hunting down promotion.
It therefore came as a surprise that neither side grabbed the early momentum. However, it was no surprise when Wrexham opened the scoring with 13 minutes on the clock. A harmless Ben Tozer free kick, from inside his own half, was flicked on by Sam Dalby. As the ball bounced into the box, both Saidou Khan and Harrison Minturn failed to win it which gifted James McClean the opportunity to tuck past Ward in goal. It was certainly a late Christmas present as Swindon conceded yet another soft goal.
Dan Kemp attempted to immediately respond with a hopeful shot from range sailing down the keeper’s throat. Considering the turnout, it was an oddly subdued atmosphere. I believe this was only mirroring the flat tempo on the pitch. For such a big match, Swindon were disappointedly flat with little movement off the ball.
On the stroke of the half an hour mark, Wrexham and McClean had a good opportunity for their second of the afternoon. George McEachran failed to track the run of McClean into the box who fortunately scuffed his effort from a cross wide. McEachran was soon replaced by Tom Brewitt whose appearance marked the loudest cheer of the day.
In a polar opposite the second half got off to a flyer. Within the first minute Wrexham saw two efforts blocked before Jake Young saw his shot blocked on the counterattack. Then in the 48th minute, Lewis Ward pulled off a brilliant save to keep Town in the contest. Max Cleworth’s cross from the right flank found the head of Wrexham’s top scorer Elliot Lee whose low header found the outstretched leg of Ward.
Swindon then went on to enjoy a brief period of pressure with little to show for it. Then just shy of the hour mark Ward was called into action again. An Anthony Forde cross from the right met the head of the unmarked McClean who was denied by another miraculous Ward save. Wrexham would go close again with a header in the 63rd minute, when Sam Dalby’s front post flick from a corner drifted narrowly wide of the far post.
With just 15 minutes remaining the Welsh visitors were reduced to 10 men, James Jones was shown a second yellow for his foul on Tyrese Shade. This handed Swindon an extra incentive to take points from the game. They’d go on to create 3 guilt edged chances. The first came in the 80th minute when substitute Jake Cain skipped down the left wing and found the unmarked Young inside the box. With time and space Town’s top scorer looked destined to finish, however his first time effort flew past the post.
5 minutes later a Swindon break saw Young find the unmarked Khan on the left. There the midfielder, who’s heavily linked with a January move to Wrexham, got his first-time finish horribly wrong as his curling shot went miles wide. Swindon continued to apply the pressure, and in injury time they came as close as they would all afternoon. Dan Kemp’s cross from the left was controlled by Young in the box before his shot ricocheted off the bar. It saw Swindon leave yet another game empty handed.
The final 15 minutes were encouraging from Town, they had their chances to take a point if not 3. However, it was heavily disappointing that it took until the 75th minute and a sending off for them to get on the front foot. In all honesty the game by that point should’ve been over if it wasn’t down to the performance of Lewis Ward. Next up, Swindon will target a win against strugglers Forest Green Rovers on Friday.
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