Swindon Town came from a goal down to beat Shrewsbury Town 2-1 at The County Ground. After conceding in the first half, a brace from substitute Alan Connell secured a vital win for the Town that sees them now sit top of the League Two table, writes Tom Otrebski.
Paolo Di Canio named the same starting eleven that had taken to the field at Hereford on Saturday. The only change to the matchday squad came on the bench, where Simon Ferry replaced Raffaele De Vita.
The County Ground witnessed an uncharacteristic Town performance in the first 45 minutes. The home side created little in front of goal and in fact, failed to hit the target at all, coming closest through Daniel Boateng who headed wide before Luke Rooney blazed over after fashioning a shooting opportunity.
Town's first half display was exposed by Shrewsbury who took the lead five minutes before the break. A corner from the Swindon right was whipped in towards the near post where Matt Richards was waiting to divert the ball past Wes Foderingham and into the net, the first time the Town's January signing had conceded a league goal at home and the first time Swindon had conceded at The County Ground since the start of October.
The breakthrough was thoroughly deserved and might have come minutes earlier: Mark Wright fired wide when he might have done better. The second half began with Connell replacing Billy Bodin and with the visitors applying yet more pressure. Then came the moment on which the game was turned on its head. Hesitation between McCormack and Cibocchi allowed Terry Gornell a run through on goal. On the edge of the area, Gornell went down under pressure from McCormack, who attempted to rectify his earlier mistake.
The referee, Mr Malone, appeared to see nothing wrong with the challenge from the Town centre-half and waved play on, to the disbelief of nearly everyone inside the stadium and to the anger of Shrewsbury's players, supporters and management. This anger with the failure to penalise Swindon was evident from that moment on and continued long after the final whistle, with manager Graham Turner visibly furious on the touchline.
On the pitch however, his players maintained their spell of pressure and McCormack had to be alert to clear a goal-bound effort off the line. With the introduction of Simon Ferry for Jonathan Smith, Swindon appeared to have received a proverbial kick up the backside and they drew level shortly after the hour mark. Matt Ritchie's thunderous left-footed effort bounced just in front of goalkeeper Chris Neal who couldn't hold onto the ball allowing it to wriggle free. Connell was quickest to react and stab the ball home to cue a massive outpouring of relief around the ground. Town were now on the front foot: Ritchie saw a volley well saved by Neal before the goalkeeper almost gifted Swindon another goal when he couldn't hold onto a corner.
With 15 minutes to play, Swindon took the lead. A short corner worked between Rooney and Ferry saw the former beat one man on the edge of the area before curling a shot over the goalkeeper. The ball struck the crossbar, bounced down onto the line and away. Lady luck was smiling on the Town once again as the ensuing scrap for possession ended with Connell poking the loose ball home on the goal-line.
So Swindon claim a vital (if a little controversial) three points in their hunt for automatic promotion. They will hope to maintain their winning momentum when Accrington Stanley visit Wiltshire on Saturday.