SWINDON Town kept their Play Off hopes alive with a one nil victory over Bradford City, thanks to Lee Cox’s first goal of the season, writes Adrian Smith.
Swindon made two changes from the side that won 2-1 at Coventry with Lee Cox and Miles Storey replacing Ben Gladwin and Nathan Byrne.
Town kicked off playing towards the Stratton Bank against Bradford who included Stephen Darby and Raffaele De Vita, both of whom had previously lined up for the Robins in previous seasons.
The game started slowly with Bradford keeping 10 players behind the ball as Town probed to try and find an opening but eventually the visitors had the first corner of the match in the 11th minute when Archibald-Henville headed behind from a cross which was cleared after Stead had headed the ball across the area.
The visitors were awarded a free kick in the 15th minute near the corner flag on the Don Rogers stand side and Foderingham did well to push out the fierce shot by City’s captain, Gary Jones at the expense of a corner which was eventually cleared.
Swindon were struggling to get a clear shot on goal despite having plenty of possession with Pritchard featuring in most of their moves as the half reached the midway point and the Town midfielder popped up in the penalty area after a defender lost the ball but Pritchard’s shot went wide of the upright.
The first yellow card of the game was shown in the 29th minute to Andrew Davies for a late challenge on Pritchard about 30 yards from goal but the set piece move saw the ball float harmlessly out for a goal kick.
A good move started by Cox and involving Pritchard and Storey led to Town’s first corner of the match in the 32nd minute which saw a goalmouth scramble before the ball was eventually cleared by the City defence. Two minutes later another corner for Town was taken by McEveley but his cross was caught by the keeper who launched the ball downfield which led to McEveley being shown a yellow card for hauling down a City player on the wing but the Town defence cleared the resulting free kick.
Michael Smith fired in a superb volley from the edge of the area in the 38th minute after patiently waiting for the ball to fall nicely but the visiting keeper McLaughlin caught the ball cleanly.
Swindon started cranking up the pressure with some good passing moves involving several players and eventually Nathan Thompson got on the end of a defensive clearance before launching a rising shot over the crossbar in the 42nd minute.
Town continued to probe as the match entered the one minute of added time and eventually a cross by McEveley towards Michael Smith only ran out for a goal kick and that proved the last action of the first half.
Bradford manager Phil Parkinson made one substitution at half time replacing Nathan Doyle with James Meredith.
The visitors started the half strongly but it was Alex Pritchard who had the first shot of the half but his effort flew over the crossbar in the 51st minute. Shortly afterwards Town were awarded a corner which was cleared but the Robins continued to probe against the 10 man City defence which led to McEveley trying to break his lengthy goal drought but his shot was deflected for a throw-in.
Town went closest to scoring so far in the 57th minute when Michael Smith’s header from point blank range struck a defender on the line leading to another goalmouth scramble which culminated in a corner for Town when another Smith header was deflected wide.
Town took the lead in the 64th minute after Pritchard was tackled 20 yards from goal and the ball spilled nicely for Lee Cox to curl in a superb shot into the right hand side of the City goal. Cox looked understandably delighted to open his scoring account for the season on a rare start for the Robins.
Swindon continued to press forward in numbers and Miles Storey was denied by McLaughlin’s fine save from Storey’s close range shot at the expense of a corner.
De Vita left to good applause from the Robins fans when he was substituted by Aaron McLean in the 68th minute.
Alex Pritchard popped up again in attack to outpace the City defence to fire in a powerful shot which went just wide of the upright with the keeper beaten and Pritchard tested the keeper again in the 76th minute with a curling free kick which he parried at the expense of a corner.
Garry Thompson replaced Kyle Bennett in the 77th minute as Bradford tried to get back into the match.
Lee Cox was replaced by Ben Gladwin in the 81st minute and the Town goalscorer left the field to good applause from the Town fans in the crowd of 8377.
There was a break in play as the match entered the 84th minute while Thompson received treatment after being challenged heavily from behind but the referee chose not to award a free kick and allowed play to continue momentarily until the ball was put out of play.
Wes Foderingham took a knock from Adam Reach when gathering the ball at an attack by City but was able to continue after a short break.
Bradford were showing more ambition late on instead of relying on the long ball to Stead, choosing to push more players forward but the Town defence were preventing a clear shot on goal.
Town had a corner deep in the three minutes of added time but the short corner routine was wasted and there was no further action to report before the final whistle was blown.
The win lifts the Robins onto 66 points and they stay in with a mathematical chance of the Play Offs but 6th placed Peterborough remain 4 points ahead of Town with 2 league games remaining.
Swindon Town: Foderingham, Thompson N (C), Stephens, Archibald-Henville, Branco, McEveley, Cox, Luongo, Pritchard, Smith, Storey
Subs: Belford, Ward, Barthram, Gladwin, Barker, N'Guessan, Waldon