Swindon Town secured a vital three points against promotion rivals Cheltenham Town with a battling 1-0 win at The County Ground. Paul Benson was the goal-scoring hero as Town move further away from the chasing pack at the top of League Two, denting the promotion hopes of their opponents in the process, writes Tom Otrebski.
Paolo Di Canio made two changes from the side that had beaten Dagenham and Redbridge in the week. Luke Rooney and Jonathan Smith came into the starting eleven with Oliver Risser and Alan McCormack re-shuffling at the back to accommodate the absence of skipper Paul Caddis who missed out with an injury.
Despite the lively opening it wasn't until the 17th minute that the game roared into life when Billy Bodin and Matt Ritchie were both denied. The former had pounced on a headed back-pass but was denied by the legs of the goalkeeper before the latter saw his follow-up scooped over the bar by a covering defender. On the half hour mark, the visitors squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead. A long ball aimed towards Cheltenham's Darryl Duffy resulted in a wrestling match between him and Risser just inside the area. As the pair crumpled into a heap on the turf, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.
To the delight of the home crowd, Wes Foderingham kept out the spot-kick, throwing himself to his right and beating away the ball. Five minutes later, Swindon were ahead through Paul Benson. A quick break from back to front through Rooney down the Town left, brought him to the edge of the area where he laid the ball off for the supporting Cibocchi. The full-back wrapped his foot around the ball and sent in a cross that was left by Bodin for Benson to crash home at the far post.
Looking for a way back into the match, the second forty-five was dominated by the visitors although arly on, Benson saw his dipping volley well kept out by Butland, being watched by Ray Clemence who was amongst the crowd. It was Darryl Duffy who had the visitors' best chances to equalise. Firstly, his close range header was directed straight at Foderingham before his ambitious overhead kick from virtually the same position was thwarted once again by Town's Man of the Match, Foderingham.
In between times, Duffy also sprang the offside trap on the edge of the area but, with his first touch betraying him, Foderingham was on hand to smother. It was a performance uncharacteristic of the home side at The County Ground this season. Swindon usually dominate their opponents in the second half but it was the visitors who made all the running with Town reduced to speculative efforts, the best of which came from Rooney who hit a swerving drive from the edge of the box that was tipped over the crossbar. So, another crucial three points for Town in the race for promotion. With so many midweek matches over recent weeks, the squad will no doubt be glad of a rest over the coming seven days before heading to Crewe Alexandra next weekend.