SwindonTown showed no signs of entering into the Valentine's Day spirit as they helped themselves to all three points against Crawley Town at The County Ground. Luke Rooney opened his Town account before Billy Bodin's spectacular strike and Paul Benson sealed a 3-0 win for the home side, writes Tom Otrebski.
Paolo Di Canio made three changes from the side that had beaten Barnet the week before. Bodin and Rooney returned having been cup-tied for the previous fixture while Alessandro Cibocchi replaced Callum Kennedy at left full-back. January signings Daniel Boateng and Lee Cox were both named among the substitutes.
In a frantic first forty-five, it was the visitors who had the more clear-cut chances to score. However, with precious little created early on, the game exploded into life on 20 minutes. Benson's neat exchange with Bodin in the middle of the park saw the young striker faced with just one defender to beat with acres of open space behind him. After a neat dummy to beat his man, the defender brought him down. With everyone in red screaming for a card of a similar colour to be shown, the referee produced a yellow card much to the disbelief of the home fans.
Five minutes later, Benson had the ball in the back of the net only to look round and see the linesman's flag signalling an offside. 15 minutes later Swindon took the lead. Cox, who had replaced Simon Ferry moments earlier, was fouled twenty yards from goal. Cibocchi crashed the resultant free kick against the woodwork and the ball bounced back into the 18-yard box. Rooney was quickest to react and drove the ball in off the upright.
Before the break there was still time for more action. Matt Ritchie's shot drifted just wide and Benson couldn't leap high enough to connect with a cross. At the other end, Wes Foderingham made two saves to keep the score-line intact. First he smartly tipped over a header from Crawley skipper Pablo Mills before pulling off a truly world-class stop to deny another opposition player. Moving to his right as the ball came in, the effort on goal was heading in before Foderingham shifted his weight to his other foot, threw himself to his left to claw away the ball and save a certain goal.
Early on the in the second half, Luke Rooney cut in from the right and saw his shot spilled by goalkeeper Michel Kuipers. Minutes later, it was 2-0. The ball sat up nicely for Bodin 20 yards from goal and the striker looped a left-footed volley into the far corner of the net with Kuipers rooted to the spot.
With 20 minutes to go, Benson made it three. Man-of-the-Match Alan McCormack made a lung-bursting run from the centre of defence to the edge of the Crawley area. His cut-back was met by Rooney who scuffed a shot goalwards. His effort, however, landed at the feet of the waiting Benson who had no hesitation in touching home from two yards. Foderingham had a relatively trouble-free second half and it was the Town who looked more likely to add to their tally than the visitors pulling a goal back. Five minutes from time, Ritchie saw his shot spilled again by Kuipers but Raffa De Vita, a second-half substitute, could only volley across goal and wide from a tight angle.
Paolo Di Canio's men will look to continue their winning momentum going at Hereford United on Saturday.