SWINDON Town lost by 2 goals to 1 against Play Off bound Rotherham United who took the lead after 53 seconds writes Adrian Smith
Town put in a much improved second half after conceding two first half goals and were rewarded when Michael Smith scored with a penalty but could not find the elusive second goal.
Swindon lined up with 4 changes from the previous game at Notts County with Connor Waldon making his full debut and there were starts for Ben Gladwin, Louis Thompson and Jack Barthram. Nathan Thompson and Troy Archibald-Henville were suspended, Alex Pritchard had returned to Tottenham after the completion of his loan period and Lee Cox was rested.
Rotherham kicked off in bright sunshine and took the lead in the 53rd second through Wes Thomas with an angled shot from the edge of the area which beat Wes Foderingham .
Town’s response came about from a freekick on their right wing which was swung in by McEveley but the Millers defence cleared at the expense of a corner which was then cleared.
Rotherham had a freekick from the left wing in the 6th minute after a foul but McEveley headed the ball over for a corner which was cleared by the Town defence.
The visitors were doing the majority of the attacking having already sealed their place in the Play Offs and there was a minor skirmish near the dugouts in the 18th minute when McEveley and Wes Thomas collided after the ball had gone but the referee restored order quickly.
Swindon pressed the self destruct button in the 23rd minute with some sloppy passing in midfield which was picked up by a Rotherham midfielder who crossed for Wes Thomas to score his second goal of the game with a header from close range.
Town’s best effort of the match so far came via a corner in eth 28th minute where the ball was left by both Smith and Luongo before it was knocked out to Louis Thompson who fired in a superb volley which only just flew over the crossbar.
Town were struggling to get any momentum going while the Millers looked confident on the ball but the Robins threatened momentarily when Jack Stephens headed straight at visiting keeper Adam Collin in the 38th minute.
Town had a good appeal for a corner when Byrne’s shot struck the hand of a Millers defender but the referee allowed play to go on and the attack eventually broke down in the 43rd minute.
There was little other action to report at either end of the pitch before the half time whistle was blown to end a disappointing first half for Town.
Rotherham manager Steve Evans replaced goalscorer Wes Thomas with Kieran Agard at halftime.
Swindon started the second half with more attacking intent and almost pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute when Byrne crossed for Smith to head goalwards but his effort was straight at the keeper who caught the ball cleanly.
The volume cranked up around the County Ground as Town stepped up the pace and once again Smith was denied by the keeper Adam Collin who caught his header cleanly.
Town were handed a lifeline in the 60th minute when Luongo was felled in the area and up stepped Michael Smith to blast home from the penalty spot to get the Robins back in the game. Smith showed no sign of nerves having missed his last penalty and he gleefully celebrated his 8th goal in 20 appearances for the Robins.
Jay McEveley came within a whisker of opening his scoring account for Town shortly afterwards when the ball rolled across the penalty area from a corner but his absolute piledriver struck the crossbar and rebounded to safety.
Vuckic replaced Hitchcock for the visitors in the 70th minute and Connor Waldon was replaced by Will Randall making his debut in the 72nd minute and he left the field to good applause.
Town continued to push forward and Will Randall combined well with Barthram who crossed to the backpost but the ball was flicked behind for a corner.
Rotherham were awarded a freekick on the edge of the penalty area in the 81st minute but Taverner’s curling effort was always rising and flew over the bar.
Wes Foderingham and Rossi Branco got into a mess in the 85th minute when the Town defender stood waiting for the keeper to gather a loose ball and a Millers player nipped in between them to get the ball but he was unable to get a shot on goal thanks to some determined defending by Stephens with Steve Evans animatedly appealing for a penalty.
Massimo Luongo was named Sponsors Man of the Match shortly before McEveley was replaced by debutant Matt Jones but he had little chance to make a difference before the final whistle was blown to end Town’s League One season for 2013/14.
The result means that Mark Cooper’s team finish in 8th place on 66 points, one behind 7th placed Sheffield United and Rotherham now move onto the Play Offs.
Swindon Town: Foderingham, Barthram, Stephens, Branco, McEveley, Byrne, Thompson L, Gladwin, Luongo (C), Waldon, Smith
Subs: Belford, Da Costa, Jones, Barker, Reis, Randall, Storey