SWINDON Town carved out a 2-1 win over Peterborough United in a counterattacking performance with goals by Ranger and Kasim, writes Adrian Smith.
The visitors ended with 10 players after Lee Tomlin was sent off for a second yellow card and they also had a member of their backroom staff sent to the stands for their part in a melee in the Town technical area.
Mark Cooper had made 4 changes to Swindon’s starting line up with Nile Ranger, Ryan Mason, Raphael Rossi-Branco and Dany N’Guessan starting and Peterborough included Nicky Ajose who had scored 10 goals for the Robins before returning to his parent Club.
Swindon kicked off their first game of 2014 kicking towards the Town End but it was the visitors who had the majority of early possession which led to their first corner in the 8th minute although Wes Foderingham was able to catch the ball when it was headed goalwards.
Alex Pritchard had Swindon’s first shot on goal after picking up the ball on the right wing before unleashing a vicious rising shot which only just flew over the crossbar.
Town’s first corner in the 16th minute wasd cleared downfield and the ball eventually reached Assombalonga who charged towards goal and his shot struck a defender with the unmarked Ajose vainly shouting for the ball.
Swindon had started passing the ball around well leading to a couple of good attacks midway through the half with Ranger the target man on the end of two crosses but he was being well marked by the Posh defence.
Lee Tomlin was denied by Foderingham who did well to spreadeagle himself and deflect the forward’s shot behind for a corner which was cleared by the defence.
Nile Ranger gave Town the lead in the 28th minute with an unchallenged header from 6 yards from Pritchard’s corner Pritchard and the County Ground erupted in celebration of his 7th goal of the season.
Peterborough were awarded a free kick in the 31st minute some 3 yards away from the angle of the goal area but the dangerous looking cross ran straight through to Foderingham under pressure from two forwards.
Swindon were hitting the visitors on the break while soaking up pressure from the visitors with Ranger being the main attacking outlet although the home side were awarded a free kick for a foul on Pritchard some 25 yards but the resulting cross was cleared.
Swindon had a superb attack as the match entered three minutes of added time with Ranger setting up Kasim with a shooting chance but his effort flew wide of the upright.
The visitors had one late chance via a 25 yard free kick but Tomlin’s effort flew over the crossbar much to the amusement of the home supporters and that was the last chance of the half.
Swindon started the second half brightly with Ranger featuring in most of the attacking play but the Robins were indebted to Foderingham who saved a shot by Assombalonga from close range although the ‘Boro forward looked well offside.
The visitors went close to equalising in the 55th minute but Tomlin’s long range effort evaded Foderingham and then struck the post much to the relief of the home fans. Shortly afterwards N’Guessan managed to outpace the defence and fire a shot goalwards but Olejnik caught the ball cleanly.
The visitors were presented with another chance in the 59th minute when a shot was deflected for a corner but Bostwick’s header flew well over the bar.
Raphael Rossi-Branco made a fantastic tackle to deny Ajose at the expense of a corner with the ‘Boro forward poised to shoot.
The visitors had the ball in the Town net in the 63rd minute but there were two Posh forwards clearly offside and the home fans could breathe again.
Mark Cooper decided to try and stem the Peterborough onslaught by replacing Mason with the more defensive option of Louis Thompson as Town continued to soak up plenty of pressure and rely on Ranger as an outlet.
Swindon conceded another corner in the 69th minute and there was a scramble in the penalty area before the ball was cleared downfield to Pritchard who tried to beat too many defenders and lost possession. However the ball was not properly cleared by the visitors and was picked up by Yaser Kasim some 40 plus yards from goal and he jinked past several defenders before firing in a shot from the edge of the area to beat the goalkeeper and double Town’s lead in the 70th minute. The goal was Kasim’s second in Town colours and he looked understandably delighted.
Nathan Byrne replaced N’Guessan shortly afterwards he took up a position on the left wing.
Lee Tomlin was clearly frustrated at his side’s fortunes and was shown yellow for a late challenge on the halfway line and shortly afterwards Nathan Byrne popped up in attack for Town and fired in a good shot which went narrowly wide of the upright.
Peterborough grabbed a deserved lifeline in the 78th minute when Nathaniel Knight-Percival smashed home a loose ball from just inside the penalty area giving Foderingham no chance.
The goal gave the visitors more impetus and they stepped up the pressure but their cause was not helped in the 85th minute when Tomlin was shown a second yellow card and then red for an incident at a throw in when he pushed Kasim over. Alex Pritchard was replaced by Miles Storey during the break in play and he left to good applause.
Shortly afterwards there was a melee in front of the Swindon dugout when a throw in was disputed with officials from Peterborough dashing into the Town technical area and when order was restored, a member of the visiting backroom staff was sent to the stands by referee M Haywood.
Peterborough were awarded a corner just as the match entered 5 minutes of added time and the visitors wasted a glorious chance to equalise when Ajose headed over from close range.
Swindon played out added time determined to hang on to their narrow lead and spent much of the time in possession in the visitors half with Byrne and Ranger putting in superb effort to keep the Posh defence penned back in the final third of the pitch.
The final whistle was blown with Town on the attack and so the win moves Mark Cooper’s team on to 37 points from 24 games.
Swindon Town: Foderingham; Thompson N, Hall, Ward, Branco, Kasim, Mason, Luongo, Pritchard, Ranger, N'Guessan
Subs: Belford, Barthram, Byrne, Thompson L, Gladwin, Storey, Barker