SWINDON TOWN slipped to a narrow defeat in the friendly against Premier League side Southampton with Jos Hooiveld’s 51st minute strike separating the teams, writes Adrian Smith.
Swindon had included recent signing Anton Rodgers included in Mark Cooper’s side and kicked off playing towards the Town End. Both sides were content to knock the ball around on the plush County Ground pitch and it was the visitors who had the first shot of the match by Graziano Pelle in the 6th minute which Foderingham easily gathered.
Three minutes later Pelle also got on the end of a cross from the right wing by the pacy Nathan Clyne but his headed effort went just wide of the goal. Clyne also outpaced the Town defence shortly afterwards before firing a powerful shot which Foderingham did well to parry and the ball was cleared.
Matt Isgrove went close for the visitors in the 17th minute with a curling shot which went just wide up the far upright. Town’s response was immediate when the home crowd were treated to a cheeky backheel by Luongo which sent Andy Williams through on goal but his effort lacked pace and Saints keeper Kelvin Davis took the ball down low.
Saints continued to enjoy the majority of possession as they knocked the ball around restricting Town to occasional touches and the occasional long chase for Andy Williams to try and prise the ball away.
Swindon carved out a chance in the 32nd minute after the Thompson brothers and Luongo combined to set up a cross by Barthram towards Williams but the ball was cleared by the Saints defence where it pinged around before being cleared. Barthram was involved shortly afterwards in another Town attack when he fired in a low cross from the right wing but a defender managed to clear it from within the 6 yard box.
Louis Thompson drew great applause from the Town fans for a superb last ditch tackle on Isgrove in the penalty area after he had shrugged off two challenges in midfield and the ball rolled out for a corner in the 42nd minute. There was a brief moment of panic when the ball was crossed after it pinged around in front of goal without any Saints forward being able to get a decisive touch and the danger was cleared by the home defence.
The two sides left the pitch to good applause with the visitors having had the majority of the play without being able to convert possession into goals.
Saints manager Ronald Koeman made two substitutions at half time with Emmanuel Mayuka , replacing Sam McQueen and Paulo Gazzanga replacing Davis in goal.
The visitors took the lead in the 51st minute from their second corner of the half when Jos Hooiveld touched home from close range after the ball had evaded the Town defence.
Anton Rodgers left the field in the 53rd minute when he was substituted by George Barker for Swindon.
Southampton continued to have most of the possession with the Robins being penned back in their own half for long periods but eventually the pressure was eased in the 60th minute when Rossi Branco managed to thread the ball through midfield to launch an attack by George Barker but the move broke down.
Shortly afterwards the visitors made nine changes so Town were now facing a totally different side from the one that had started the match!
Massimo Luongo went close to scoring an own goal when he cut out a dangerous looking cross by Sam Gallagher and he was relieved to see the ball go just wide of the upright for a corner.
Mark Cooper replaced Michael Smith with Will Randall and Andy Williams with Connor Waldon midway through the half in an effort to try and get the elusive equaliser.
Louis Thompson again showed his defensive qualities with another superb tackle on Mayuka who was poised to shoot from inside the penalty area but he was denied by the outstretched foot of Thomspon who flicked the ball out for a corner.
Callum Chambers tried his luck from distance in the 72nd minute with a powerful shot but his effort was always rising and the ball flew over the crossbar.
Wes Foderingham made a smart save from Sam Gallagher’s shot in the 74th minute springing to his right to catch the ball to draw good applause from the majority of the crowd of 3958.
The referee waved away half hearted appeals in the 78th minute for a penalty when George Barker tumbled under a challenge from a Saints defender but it appeared that the appeals were more in hope than expectation!
Lee Marshall made an appearance for the Robins in the 82nd minute replacing Luongo and the Australian midfielder left the field to good applause.
Swindon started finding time and space on the pitch and were knocking the ball around well which led to a good move ending when Lee Marshall lost possession in the penalty area. Shortly afterwards Nathan Byrne’s superb crossfield pass into the penalty area was flicked back by Marshall but the visitors defence snuffed out the danger.
The home side continued to enjoy plenty of possession without being able to get a clear shot on goal.
Callum McCormack replaced Kasim as the match entered the 89th minute and he also left the field to good applause.
The visitors had a corner as the match entered added time and they also had appeals for a penalty when the ball was fired at Byrne and struck his arm but the referee awarded another corner which was cleared.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards to seal a one goal win for the visitors thanks to Jos Hooiveld’s 51st minute close range strike.