Town fell to a 4-2 defeat to the Sky Bet League One leaders Sheffield United on Tuesday evening at The County Ground despite mounting a brave and gutsy comeback.
The Reds were well below their best in the first-half and found themselves trailing by two goals at the break with Caolan Lavery and Kieron Freeman both on the scoresheet for The Blades.
Charlie Colkett’s stunning effort reduced the deficit immediately after the restart though, and parity was restored shortly after thanks to Ben Gladwin’s superb drive.
However, the table toppers fought back and edged back in-front courtesy of a Jay O’Shea strike, before Paul Coutts wrapped up the points for the visitors in the dying seconds.
Town made four changes with Will Henry, Dion Conroy, Fankaty Dabo and John Goddard all coming into the fold.
Lawrence Vigouroux, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, James Brophy and the suspended Brad Barry missed out, with the Reds once again opting to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Swindon knew they needed a victory in order to boost their survival hopes while The Blades were also going in search of three points in order to move closer to clinching the League One Title.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges but it took a while for the first chance of the game to arrive with Jon Obika sending an effort wide just past the 15-minute mark.
Paul Coutts thumped a shot past the post for United before Fankaty Dabo went close moments later at the other end with his menacing cross having to be put behind by Blades’ stopper Simon Moore.
It was proving to be a scrappy affair with chances few and far between at both ends, although Daniel Lafferty went close with a volley which just flew over the bar.
And United opened the scoring just short of the half-hour mark after Caolan Lavery pounced on an under-hit Fankaty Dabo backpass, with the striker just beating Will Henry to the ball to stab home into an empty net.
Lavery then turned provider as The Blades doubled their lead less than ten minutes later, picking out Kieron Freeman who smashed home from close-range.
United went close to a third in the latter stages of the first-half but Billy Sharp couldn’t quite connect with Jack O’Connell’s dangerous ball into the box.
There was one more chance before the interval and it went the way of the visitors as O’Connell sent a team header straight at Henry.
Town made a superb start to the second-half and hauled themselves back in the contest courtesy of Charlie Colkett, who hammered home his first-ever goal for the club.
United responded by going close to restoring their two-goal advantage as Lafferty fired wide, before there was another twist in the tail.
With the wind in their sails, the Reds attacked their guests again and hauled themselves level just past the 50-minute mark thanks to Ben Gladwin’s divine strike from outside the area.
However, United soon restored their lead after Jay O’Shea reacted to a mix-up between Henry and Rossi-Branco before stroking home from close-range.
John Goddard sliced a volley wide but the Reds refused to be beaten and had the ball in the back of the net again after Ajose touched home Obika’s header from close-range but, unfortunately, the offside flag was already up.
Town were doing everything they could to try and muster up another equaliser but they also had to be alert at the back too with Henry getting down well to keep out Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s shot.
Dion Conroy then saw his header from Colkett’s corner knocked away by James Hanson, before Sharp sliced over at the other end.
With time running out, Town made a change with Luke Norris replacing Ben Gladwin as the Reds attempted to draw level once again.
However, despite giving everything they had, the Reds were unable to claw their way back into the game and United wrapped up the win in stoppage time with Coutts converting from the spot after Colkett brought down Samir Carruthers inside the area.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS - Caolan Lavery (28), Kieron Freeman (34), Charlie Colkett (46), Ben Gladwin (52), Jay O’Shea (58), Paul Coutts (90).
TOWN - Henry; Thompson (C), Rossi-Branco, Conroy, Dabo; Colkett, Ince; Goddard, Obika, Gladwin (Luke Norris 83); Ajose.
Subs Not Used - Thomas, Rodgers, Iandolo, Starkey, Simpson, Twine.
SHEFFIELD UNITED - Moore; O’Connell, Ebanks-Landell, Basham; Freeman, Fleck, Coutts, O’Shea (James Hanson 70), Lafferty; Lavery (Samir Carruthers (56), Sharp (C) (Jake Wright 87).
Subs Not Used - Long, McNulty, Done, Chapman.
Referee - Oliver Langford
SHEFFIELD UNITED - Chris Basham
ATTENDANCE - 7,012