SWINDON Town put on a much improved attacking performance against Coventry City to win 2-1 after going a goal behind, writes Adrian Smith.
Two of Mark Cooper’s inspired substitutions paid dividends with Yaser Kasim equalising and then Miles Storey returning to grab the winner after former Town player Leon Clarke had given City the lead.
Cooper had promised an attacking display and the return of Nile Ranger made a massive contribution but it was the return of Miles Storey who scored Town’s winning goal which gave Town fans an early Christmas present of three points.
Swindon made three changes with Nile Ranger, Nathan Byrne and Ryan Harley included in his starting line up against Coventry City. Town kicked off in driving rain playing towards the hardy souls on the Stratton Bank.
Both sides started brightly with some good passing moves and Coventry had the first attack on goal with a weak header by Leon Clarke which was saved by Wes Foderingham.
Town had a corner in the 10th minute after a good move started by Luongo which saw Pritchard’s cross cleared by a defender for the Robin’s first corner of the match which was cleared. Shortly afterwards Massimo Luongo tried his luck with a shot from distance which was parried by Joe
Murphy but Nicky Ajose was just unable to get onto the loose ball.
Another period of attacking play led to a corner for Town when Pritchard’s ball to the backpost was headed behind by a defender under pressure from Ranger but the corner was headed away easily.
The Coventry defence gifted Town a corner in the 18th minute under pressure from Ranger which led to a shooting chance for Luongo from 12 yards but his shot went wide. City responded with a shot by Moussa which fizzed past the post with Foderingham scrambling across goal.
The Town keeper did well to tip an effort by Chris Dagnall around the post at the expense of a corner which was cleared downfield by Pritchard.
Foderingham was again involved to catch a cross by Baker which he retrieved at the second attempt after dropping the ball in his 6 yard box.
Leon Clarke wasted a gift wrapped chance in the 37th minute when he headed just wide with the goal at his mercy.
The Sky Blues were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position on their right wing for a foul by McEveley but the ball was headed clear by Grant Hall.
The first yellow card was shown to Christie for a foul on Mason leading to a passage of attacking play which ended with Mason firing a shot at a goal but the ball was gathered by Murphy.
Shortly afterwards Ajose was fouled as he charged down the wing by Fleck who was shown a yellow card. The resulting free kick led to a shot by Pritchard which struck a defender and the chance was gone.
There was a late chance for Coventry with a shot which flew just wide and there was no other action to report before the whistle blew to end an entertaining albeit goalless first half.
Swindon made two substitutions at half time with Yaser Kasim and Jack Barthram replacing Mason and McEveley respectively.
Coventry’s Dagnall fired high and wide over the bar and Swindon responded with a superb run by Ranger which saw him charge 30 yards to the edge of the box before laying the ball off to Barthram who was blocked before laying the ball off to Luongo but his effort was deflected away from goal.
Ranger was denied by a point blank save by Joe Murphy who pushed the ball away to safety but it was the visitors who took a 51st minute lead through Leo Clarke’s headed goal which seemed to wrongfoot Foderingham. Clarke was fortunate not to be shown a yellow card for his overexuberant celebrations which angered the home crowd.
Jack Barthram popped up in attack to fire a good cross which beat the keeper but a defender cleared at the expense of a corner which was cleared by the City defence.
Alex Pritchard did well to fire in a shot under pressure but his effort was always rising and the ball went over the crossbar.
Nile Ranger was making a real difference for Town using his height in attack and defence and he was on hand to clear a dangerous cross into the 6 yard box with two City players close by.
Alex Pritchard earned a corner when his shot from 20 yards struck a defender and the kick was held up while Miles Storey made a welcome return in the 71st minute replacing Harley. Storey was involved straightaway with an audacious backheeled effort from a cross by Pritchard but his effort was saved by the keeper.
Wes Foderingham kept Town in the game with a fine save from Conor Thomas when he tipped a goalbound shot onto the post and gathered the ball at the second attempt.
Swindon grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 77th minute following a high ball which saw Darren Ward head the ball across the penalty area and it was cleared only for Yaser Kasim to score an absolute peach with a first time volley from 20 yards. The City keeper was beaten by the sheer pace of the shot and the Town midfielder wheeled away wildly celebrated his first goal for the Club.
Miles Storey was also adding a much needed attacking outlet and he was denied by the feet of Joe Murphy from Storey’s close range shot.
The goal had clearly given Town more impetus and Kasim try his luck from the edge of the box but his effort was blocked and at the other end Fleck’s powerful shot struck the crossbar and out to safety.
Supersub Miles Storey snatched a fine second when he latched onto a through ball and outpaced the defence before firing past Murphy in the 86th minute to positively ignite the aytmosphere around the joyous County Ground.
Yaser Kasim went agonisingly close to extending Town’s lead shortly afterwards when he charged down the middle before unleashing a powerful shot which was deflected onto the post. Kasim was named as the Sponsor’s Man of the Match for his excellent second half display.
4 minutes of added time were displayed on the 4th official’s board shortly before Storey charged down the right wing before crossing the ball into Murphy’s hands.
Wes Foderingham was cautioned for time wasting at a goalkick before launching another attack for
Mark Cooper’s team which saw Ranger and Storey combine down the right wing to waste a few seconds in possession by the corner flag.
The visitor’s cause was not helped by a couple of wayward passes in midfield and the final whistle was greeted with a tremendous roar around the County Ground by the majority of the crowd of 9291.
The win moves Town onto 33 points from 21 games and sets them up nicely for the away festive season trips to Brentford and Bradford City.