Town beat Oxford United 3-1 on penalties following a 0-0 draw to take two points from their Checkatrade Trophy Southern Group C encounter at SN1 this evening.
Both sides had chances in the opening 45 minutes which saw the visitors reduced to ten men after Alex MacDonald was shown a straight red card.
Town were the dominant force in the second-half but were unable to make wave after wave of attack count, resulting in the game going to a penalty shootout.
Successful efforts from John Goddard, Conor Thomas and Darnell Furlong and a heroic effort from Will Henry ensured that Town secured the extra point.
Town Head Coach Luke Williams decided to use tonight’s cup tie as an opportunity to give minutes to some of the club’s younger players.
Six changes were made in total as Will Henry took his place between the sticks, whilst Anton Rodgers, James Brophy, Tom Smith, Ellis Iandolo and Luke Norris were all handed starts.
Lawrence Vigouroux, Nathan Thompson, Sean Murray and John Goddard dropped to the bench with Jon Obika and Yaser Kasim granted the evening off.
After a quiet start to proceedings with the two teams taking time to suss each other out, it wasn’t long before there was action at both ends of the pitch.
Oxford stopper Simon Eastwood had to scramble back to seize control of Phil Edwards’ header which was heading towards his own goal, before Ellis Iandolo’s drive was deflected out.
Alex MacDonald warmed the gloves of Henry with a free-kick whilst Tom Smith was inches away from hitting the back of the net at the other end after seeing his effort tipped around the post by Eastwood.
Rodgers then planted a free-kick wide before the visitors began to grab a foothold on proceedings, MacDonald forcing a smart stop from Henry and the Town stopper had to be at his best moments later to deny the Oxford attacker once again.
And that proved to be the final act from MacDonald who was given a straight red card following a rash challenge on Rodgers.
That was followed by a flurry of cards with the game starting to heat up, but neither side were able to make the breakthrough before the break, despite Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill going close on the stroke of half-time.
There was little action of note in the early stages of the second-half with the hosts having plenty of possession but unable to find a way to break down the stubborn Oxford defence.
However, Town became more dangerous the longer the game went on and began to pepper the visiting goal with a flurry of efforts.
Iandolo’s strike was deflected into the arms of Eastwood and the Yellows’ stopper then did superbly to keep out an effort from Ormonde-Ottewill.
Smith bent a shot just around the post as the home side continued to flex their attacking muscles, before Eastwood stood firm once again to keep out a John Goddard effort, who had been thrown on moments earlier alongside Sean Murray.
Marvin Johnson broke forward with pace at the other end but was guilty of fluffing his lines after sending a tame effort straight at Henry.
Henry was having another good game for Town between the sticks and had to be alert to break down another Oxford counter-attack.
Town were continuing to hammer on the door but could not find a way through and the game ended all square, leaving the two sides to contest a penalty shootout in order to get an extra point.
And it was the Reds who came out on top following a nervous round of spot-kicks, which started with Goddard picking his spot perfectly.
Henry then did brilliantly to keep out Liam Sercombe’s effort, before Murray missed his spot-kick and Ryan Taylor converted his.
Norris was then unsuccessful with his penalty but Henry responded by batting away Wes Thomas’ shot and, after Thomas was on target, Ruffels fluffed his lines to present Town with the opportunity to take the extra point.
It was a chance the Robins took with both hands after Furlong kept his composure to slam home his penalty and earn Town two points to keep them on course for the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SWINDON TOWN 0-0 OXFORD UNITED (TOWN WIN 3-1 ON PENALTIES) – CHECKATRADE TROPHY SOUTHERN GROUP C
TOWN –Henry; Furlong, Rossi-Branco (C), Thomas; Brophy, Rodgers (John Goddard 67), Smith, Iandolo (Sean Murray 67), Ormonde-Ottewill; Delfouneso, Norris.
Subs Not Used –Vigouroux, Thompson, Evans, Twine.
OXFORD UNITED –Eastwood; Edwards, Martin, Long, Skarz (C); Rothwell (Liam Sercombe 85), Crowley (Wes Thomas 85); Roberts (Marvin Johnson 63), MacDonald, Ruffels; Taylor.
Subs Not Used –Lundstram, Hemmings, Welch-Hayes, Brown.
REFEREE –Paul Tierney
TOWN –Ellis Iandolo, Conor Thomas.
OXFORD UNITED –Phil Edwards, Joe Rothwell, Joe Skarz, Dan Crowley.
SENT-OFF –Alex MacDonald (Oxford United).
ATTENDANCE –2,698 (533 AWAY FANS).