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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: SWINDON TOWN 1-0 BRISTOL ROVERS

21 November 2020

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Swindon Town secured their first League clean sheet of the season, after a Brett Pitman header was enough to overcome Bristol Rovers 1-0 in a bruising, physical encounter at the County Ground.

It was the perfect recovery from the Tuesday's 3-0 home defeat to Accrington Stanley, as Pitman rose highest to convert Matt Smith’s beautiful set-piece delivery in the second half.

John Sheridan’s side had to endure a few efforts from the away side, as Sam Nicholson saw a half-volley fantastically denied by Matej Kovar as well as a close-range header hiting the outside of the post.

Town stayed compact and disciplined to see out the result and could have sealed the game in the dying stages, as Hallam Hope sliced over a good chance, however, it did not matter in the end as Swindon did not budge and gained a fourth League win of the season.

First half:

Bristol created the first noteworthy chance of a very cagey and scrappy opening 10 minutes, after Nicholson fired a free header over the cross bar.

Swindon grew into the game and had a very strong appeal for a penalty turned down by the referee.

Hallam Hope got in behind the Rovers defence and appeared to have beaten Alfie Kilgour to the ball in the penalty area and was brought down, however, it was adjudged the defender just got to the ball.

Rovers’ number nine Brandon Hanlan also had a strong chance to put the away side in the lead, after Sam Nicholson won the ball back in the Swindon half and slipped Hanlan through, but his shot was dragged wide.

Town looked dangerous on the counterattack and were regularly getting in behind Rovers' defence.

Both Brett Pitman and Jonny Smith managed to find a way in behind, unfortunately, the angle was too tight for the winger who pushed his effort into the side netting.

Akin Odimayo also manifested a chance of his own with some superb drive and composure, driving into the heart of the Rovers defence and unleashing a dangerous low shot which was only just gathered by Anssi Jaakola in the Rovers goal.

Town enforcer and midfield general, Anthony Grant looked like he was going to exit the game early, after he timed a last-ditch tackle on Luke McCormick perfectly, but came out the worse for wear – fortunately Grant was able to run the injury off.   

Second half:

The first chance of the second-half fell to Rovers’ Josh Grant, after a flowing Rovers counter-attack culminated in the midfielder receiving the ball out on the right-hand side, but his effort was blocked by Dion Donohue and went out for a corner.

Matt Smith continued his recent good form and was a constant creative source for the Town, linking with Pitman and Smith extremely well.

After several minutes of physical battling with little chances between the two sides, Hope came very close to giving Town the lead out of nowhere, with a bending, powerful drive which flew past a stranded Jaakola, but also past the post.

After threatening the Rovers back four with many slick passing moves, it was a Swindon set-piece which broke the deadlock for the home side.

The constant dangerman Matt Smith, bent in a delicious free-kick which Brett Pitman gobbled up from close range to give the Town the lead with 15 minutes to go.

Town were inches away from having their lead ripped away from them two minutes later, after Luke McCormick was denied by both Matej Kovar and the post almost consecutively.

The Czech goalkeeper made a magnificent low save from Nicholson who caught a low, powerful half volley sweetly from 25 yards, but the Manchester United loanee was razor sharp down to his right to push the ball to safety.

Then almost straight after the Town defence failed to recover and Nicholson was found, unmarked in the box with a pin-point cross, but his header, almost in slow motion, bounce off the outside of the post.

In a whirlwind ten minutes, Hope was presented with an opportunity to kill the game, when Pitman laid the ball off to him on the edge of the box, but the Barbadian sliced his effort just over the crossbar.

Manager John Sheridan strengthened up the defence by bringing on Tom Broadbent for goal scorer Pitman who worked tirelessly leading the line throughout the whole game.


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