Town will bring the curtain down on their pre-season campaign this weekend with two matches taking place tomorrow, Saturday 23 July.
Scott Lindsey’s men welcome Championship side Cardiff City to The County Ground at midday, with a team consisting mainly of youth and fringe players heading to The Crucial Environmental Stadium at 3pm where they’ll come up against National League South outfit Worthing.
With the countdown to the new 2022/23 EFL Sky Bet League Two campaign well and truly on, tomorrow will be the last opportunity for Lindsey’s charges to get some competitive minutes in the legs before their season opener at Harrogate Town a week on Saturday.
Speaking to Town’s Media Team on the eve of game day, First-Team Head Coach, Lindsey, admits their clash with the Welsh side will be a challenging test.
“It goes without saying the Cardiff match will be a tough one and we’ll be fielding a strong side that will compete. We still have players in the squad that aren’t quite there yet with fitness, so this is another good opportunity for us to give them some valuable playing time.
“We know Cardiff will press high and come after us, so we’ll need to be good with the ball, keep our shape and do all we can to control the match. They’re an experienced side two divisions above us so we’ll need to compete and be confident.”
Like the majority of pre-season so far, the recently-appointed boss has upped the intensity of training for his players week by week so they’re approaching games slightly fatigued, with the aim of improving fitness and testing bodies - and tomorrow will be no different.
“We’ve done a lot of work coming into this game and this week’s sessions have been purposely concentrated around covering distances with the ball and testing bodies to reach the required levels, so once again players will be heading into the game slightly jaded, but this is what we want,” Lindsey commented.
“This gives us the chance to enhance fitness and assess where some of the lads are at, enabling us to then adjust the training regime for the season-opener against Harrogate.
“Some of our new signings have come in slightly later and are what I’d call ‘other club fit’ rather than ‘Swindon fit’, so these two games give us the chance to push them harder to get them up to speed.”
Cardiff City: The lowdown…
It’s been a topsy turvy few years for The Bluebirds with fans experiencing a blend of highs and lows under four different managers.
Neil Warnock’s resignation back in November 2019 after a poor start to their league campaign saw him replaced with Neil Harris, who guided the club to a fifth-place finish before suffering play-off semi-final heartbreak.
Then, after six straight league defeats the following season, Harris was shown the door and the reigns handed to Mick McCarthy in January 2021.
McCarthy started his tenure brightly, winning seven and drawing three of his first ten, guiding City to eighth in the league and earning a new deal in the process, but another poor run of form the following campaign saw him shown the door and Under-23s manager Steve Morison drafted in, with the former Millwall striker guiding the side to safety and extending his stay by a further 18-months.
Like Swindon, it’s been a busy summer of comings and goings in the Welsh capital, with 12 new faces joining the ranks, all on free transfers.
These include Andy Rinomhota from Reading, Mahlon Romeo from Millwall, Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda, Jamilu Collins from German side SC Paderborn, striker Romaine Sawyers from West Bromwich Albion and experienced goalkeeper Ryan Allsop.
Their most recent additions also include Cedric Kipre from West Bromwich Albion on loan and former Forest Green Rovers midfielder Ebou Adams.
There’s been just as many players heading out the exit at The Cardiff City Stadium, with the likes Will Vaulks, Aden Flint, Marlon Pack, James Collins and Leandro Bacuna opting for pastures new.
Despite drastic changes to the playing squad, Steve Morison’s side have enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season campaign, claiming victories against the likes of Cambridge United, Newport County and Cheltenham Town, drawing away at Shrewsbury in midweek.
Tomorrow’s encounter at The County Ground will be their last before they begin their 2022/23 Championship campaign away at Norwich City.
There’ll be a few players taking to the field tomorrow who have had spells at both clubs, with Jonny Williams the most recent having joined Town from Cardiff last year.
While popular City figure Sean Morrison made this professional debut for Swindon and spent three seasons with us.
A brief insight into Worthing…
With Scott Lindsey leading his side out at SN1, a more youthful looking Town squad will be strutting their stuff at The Crucial Environmental Stadium under the guidance of Academy boss Jamie Russell.
The likes of George Cowmeadow, Harrison Minturn and Oscar Massey are expected to feature, along with Ricky Aguiar, who joined Town from the Mackerel Men back in August last year, and penned a new three year deal this week.
The midfielder went won both the Manager’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards in 2018/19, before retaining Manager’s Player once again in 2019/20. Aguiar played a total of 95 games for the club, scoring 15 goals in the process before completing a move to SN1.
Tomorrow’s encounter will be Worthing’s sixth pre-season friendly as they put the finishing touches to their prep for the new National League South campaign.
After suffering defeat at the hands of Winchester City in their first friendly, they’ve embraced wins over Whitehawk and Three Bridges, and picked up draws against Selsey and Premier League side Brighton.
Tickets for the game are available on the turnstiles, priced at £5 for adults while under-12s go free.