Town restored their points cushion at the top of the League Two table with a 2-0 win over promotion rivals Torquay United. Goals either side of half time from Alan Connell and Oliver Risser also ensured an unhappy return for Town legends Martin Ling and Shaun Taylor in the process, writes Tom Otrebski.
Paolo Di Canio made four changes to the side that had lost at Crewe at the weekend. Connell, Lee Holmes, Jonathan Smith and Alessandro Cibocchi were all recalled in whilst Aden Flint, Luke Rooney and Jonathan Tehoue all dropped to the bench.
Connell and Cibocchi both tested their radar early on before Holmes fed Smith on the edge of the area but the midfielder saw his shot diverted behind by a defender. Matt Ritchie was inevitably in the thick of the action and his shot with 25 minutes on the clock flew through a crowd of players and wide.
With just under a quarter of an hour to go before the break, Swindon took the lead. Ritchie's left-footed corner was met at the near post by Connell who glanced the ball across goal and into the net, notching his 11th goal of the season. Despite the home side having the majority of the chances, Wes Foderingham had to be alert to keep out a shot at his near post. Just before the half-time whistle, Ritchie's delightful floated cross was slightly too high for Connell and as a result the striker could only head narrowly wide.
The Town made a flying start to the second period and immediately penned their opponents back in their half. Connell could have doubled his advantage when Ritchie's early cross beat the covering defender, but he couldn't quite manage to make a firm enough connection resulting in the ball spinning harmlessly wide of goal.
Just short of the hour mark, Connell was denied once again. After battling to win the ball back in the middle of the park, he laid a pass on for Holmes on the left. The winger's deft cross found Connell, who had continued his run, but he could only head against the covering defender, taking the effort wide of goal. From the resultant corner, Man of the Match Oliver Risser found the net to put the home side two up. Almost a carbon copy of the delivery for the first, Ritchie's ball to the near post found Risser who thundered a header home from eight-yards.
Swindon's high-tempo start combined with a second goal for the hosts seemed to take the fight out of Torquay. Foderingham, who had to be alert in the first half, found himself being called into action on far fewer occasions. Ritchie also saw his driven shot spilled over the bar by visiting goalkeeper Robert Olejnik.
So another three points for Town who ended their Wembley dress rehearsal by registering their eleventh straight home league win. With the well-documented break from league action this weekend, Di Canio's men travel to London hoping to bring back some silverware to parade when local rivals Bristol Rovers visit SN1 at the end of the month.