TOWN were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Queens Park Rangers on penalties after twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 after extra time.
Jordan Stewart and James Brophy were Town’s goalscorers and in the shoot out, Anton Rodgers and Brad Barry both missed their spot kicks.
With Michael Doughty unable to play against his parent club, he was one of three changes to the side that had beaten Coventry the previous Saturday. New signings Luke Norris and Lloyd Jones made their debuts in place of John Goddard and Jon Obika with Conor Thomas taking up a more familiar position on the right of Town’s midfield three.
The visitors were on the front foot from the off with Anton Rodgers testing Matt Ingram early on before Yaser Kasim fired narrowly wide after some neat passing build-up from the Town.
Despite the positive start, it was the hosts who went closest to opening the scoring when a header smacked against the underside of the crossbar and bounced onto the line. Thankfully for the visitors, a combination of Nathan Thompson and Lawrence Vigouroux snuffed out the danger.
On his Town bow, Luke Norris was a lively figure up front for Swindon, forcing several saves from Ingram before rounding the ‘keeper and seeing his shot cleared off the line by James Perch later in the half.
Thomas also had a rasping half-volley kept out before the break while at the other end, Vigouroux was called upon to stop a goal-bound header from closer range as both sides went into the break without managing to break the deadlock between them.
James Brophy fired off target for Town at the start of the second half but, just minutes later, it was QPR who took the lead through Yeni Ngbakoto. After the R’s had got in down the Town right, the debutant met the cross at the far post and had the simple tasking of tapping home from close range.
Town were behind for just over ten minutes. Second-half substitute, Jordan Stewart brought the visitors level in spectacular fashion. Latching onto a ball over the top of the defence, he cracked a volley beyond Ingram and into the corner of the net.
Luke Williams’s side then set about trying to find a winner. Norris – who seemed to be enjoying his own personal battle with Matt Ingram all night – was denied yet again by the R’s stopper who got down low to paw away his free-kick.
Brad Barry then skipped inside off the right flank and sent a fizzing effort over the crossbar and Anton Rodgers also fired off target. As the clock ticked closer to 90 minutes, Norris was involved again with Ingram, this time catching the ‘keeper in possession inside the box but the stopper recovered before Norris could pull the trigger.
As the game headed into extra time, Town were forced to play with ten men with Lloyd Jones leaving the field and no substitutions left. The hosts made their numerical advantage count almost immediately with Conor Washington converting a cut-back at the far post.
Before the first half of extra time was over, Vigouroux had to produce a top drawer save to claw away an effort that was bound for the top corner.
Minutes after the re-start, the ten men drew level through James Brophy. Stewart’s shot was parried into the wing-back’s path and he smacked a right-footed shot into the back of the net to equalise.
In the penalty shoot-out, Anton Rodgers and Brad Barry both missed their respective spot kicks and it was Rangers’ Nasser El Khayati who scored to seal their place in round two.