Swindon Town slipped to a two nil defeat against high flying Chelsea who withstood early pressure before taking control of the game but Mark Cooper’s side were not disgraced against a strong Blues line-up, writes Adrian Smith.
Chelsea kicked off in a truely atmospheric County Ground under the floodlights on a balmy night in Wiltshire with Jose Mourinho having kept his prematch pledge to play a strong side. The match was being watched by a capacity crowd as well as the watching millions on Sky TV.
Mark Cooper made one change from the Swindon team who beat Bristol City with Alex Pritchard replacing Louis Thompson.
Swindon were knocking the ball around well but there was a break in play in the 7th minute after Van Ginkel took a knock in the centre circle but he recovered after treatment only to leave the field in the 10th minute during a break in play while Chelsea waited to take a free kick. Ramires replaced Van Ginkel and then Wes Foderingham made a fine stop from the resulting David Luiz free kick and Darren Ward was on hand to clear the loose ball.
Nile Ranger received treatment for an injury as the match entered the 16th minute but he was back in action shortly afterwards. Alex Pritchard was looking lively on his return to the team, teasing the Blues defence with some tricky play and set up N’Guessan who sent a good cross into the penalty area but no Town player was able to connect.
England defender Gary Cahill was able to send in a weak header from a free kick as the half reached 22 minutes but Foderingham gathered cleanly.
The substitute Ramires sent in a rising shot which flew over the crossbar but Chelsea went much closer to scoring in the 27th minute when Torres found himself in a one-on-one chance with Foderingham but the Town keeper spread himself to deny the Spaniard with a one handed save. However Torres did open the scoring in the 29th minute tapping in from close range after Foderingham had parried a Mata shot and the Blues number 9 reacted first at the far post.
Fernando Torres carved open the Town defence in the 35th minute outpacing the defenders to send the ball to the overlapping Ramires who lifted the ball over the on rushing Foderingham.
Swindon responded brightly despite this setback and Kasim tested Mark Schwarzer’s reflexes with a rasping shot which he tipped around the post for a corner. The resulting cross by Pritchard was easily gathered by Schwarzer and the Town midfielder also tried his luck from 20 yards but the keeper gathered cleanly.
The first yellow card of the match was shown to Cesar Azpilicueta for a trip on McEveley as he charged down the left wing in the 43rd minute. Pritchard took the resulting free kick but Schwarzer punched the ball clear.
Three minutes of added time were played with neither side able to mount an attack before the whistle was blown to end a good first half with Chelsea having made the most of their chances.
Chelsea made a change at half time replacing Ramires, himself a substitute, with Chelsea legend John Terry and Swindon replaced Nile Ranger with Louis Thompson.
Swindon had a goal ruled out for offside when Nathan Thompson was adjudged to have been offside when heading home McEveley’s free kick and the decision appeared marginal in real time.
Michael Essien saw yellow for a foul on Pritchard in the 54th minute but the Town midfielders curling shot was gathered at his left hand post by Schwarzer.
Massimo Luoungo earned a corner for Town when his shot from 20 yards struck a defender but the resulting corner by McEveley lacked power and was easily cleared.
Town were getting stronger as the half wore on and Pritchard gained another corner for Town when his shot was deflected behind by Essien but the corner came to nothing.
Midway through the half, Kevin De Bruyne drew a save from Foderingham when he volleyed from 20 yards but the Town keeper parried the ball and Ward was on hand again to clear.
Wes Foderingham again saved Swindon when he saved from Torres who was through on goal and then Willan fired over from close range with McEveley putting him under pressure. Nicky Ajose had found space hard to come by and was replaced by Elgabas in the 73rd minute.
Nathan Thompson saw yellow for a late challenge and Chelsea introduced Demba Ba in place of De Bruyne before the free kick was taken.
Chelsea were looking happy to sit back and let Swindon knock the ball around in midfield and the Robins were unable to pierce the defensive wall. There was a scare for the home side when
Foderingham managed to tackle a Chelsea forward with his feet and when the loose ball ran to David Luiz, his goalbound shot was cleared by Grant Hall.
Three minutes of added time were played which included a Town corner and that was the last main action before the final whistle was blown to end Swindon’s Capital One Cup campaign for 2013/14 as they slipped to defeat against a strong Chelsea side.
The Robins left the field to great applause from the crowd of 14924 in recognition of a good performance but Chelsea ran out deserved winners where they took their chances but Swindon will take great heart from their display.
Town side to face Chelsea: Foderingham, Thompson N, Hall, Ward (C), McEveley, Kasim, Luongo, Pritchard, Ajose, Ranger, N’Guessan
Subs: Belford, Elgabas, Thompson L, Storey, Barthram, Branco, Wood