Monday, August 22, 2011

Match Review- Swindon Town vs Oxford United

Oxford United came out on top in what must have been the most awaited fixture in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. The mutual rivalry and hatred between the supporters has only grown since the last time we played them in 2002. That combined with Swindon looking to appease fans following two away defeats.

Paolo Di Canio also added fuel to the fire with talk about Oxford striker James Constable being a Swindon fan. It was Constable who gave Oxford the lead on twelve minutes, heading home from a corner. Although the teams were well-matched, both teams were looking to attack so was no real surprise to see the deadlock broken.

Going a goal down appeared to lift the Town players into action and it wasn't a long wait for an equaliser. Matt Ritchie scored after somewhat of a scramble in the Oxford penalty area. The stadium erupted and the several elbows I received in the head from fans behind were more than worth it.

Swindon took charge of the game and looked the most likely to take the lead. However, Oxford were awarded a free-kick, courtesy of a rather theatrical fall. James Constable headed home from close range, grabbing his second in the process to ensure Oxford went into the break a goal up.

All four goals that Town have conceded  this season have been through set pieces. It an area that needs improving as we dominated most of the play in all three defeats. The defence looks all lost at sea whenever defending a free kick. Joe Devera in particular disappointed, given the fact he was marking Constable.

Raffaele De Vita made way for Mehdi Kerrouche at half-time as Town pressed for an equaliser. In a cruel twist of fate, Kerrouche only lasted 22 minutes before coming off injured with Alan Connell replacing. Despite his limited game time, the Algerian showed quality and intelligence in our attacking play.

Paolo Di Canio was sent to the stands following a spat with the linesman. Leon Clarke was wrongly flagged offside and frustration got the better of the Italian. Di Canio had been quite ridiculously, warned for over-excessive celebrating and running down the touchline after Ritchie's goal.

Etienne Ejasas made his first start, following previous cameo roles against Cheltenham and Dagenham & Redbridge. He looked impressive, constantly looking to run at defenders. Still lacking match practice, Ejasas was replaced by debutant Lander Gabilondo, who despite only signing on Friday looks very good. His desire to create opportunities troubled the Oxford back line and made a great chance for himself almost instantaneously.

Our best opportunity came courtesy of a Leon Clarke chance. He did the hard bit well – making space in the box only to lash the ball over from six yards. It was the moment you just knew it wasn't going to be Town's day and the bragging rights and the points were going up the A420.

Leon Clarke's golden opportunity was our last significant chance to snatch a point. Oxford successfully contained Swindon as they looked to play keep ball. Aden Flint was pushed up front to counter balance this, as long balls were thrown into the box, although he was unable to trouble the defence.

Swindon dominated play, much like our previous two defeats, but were unable to convert their possession into goals. The defeat hurts like no other but Oxford deserved to take three points from the game. James Constable took his chances, which none of our forward line did. Defensive errors also cost Town dear and teams can't expect to win making silly mistakes. Roll on March...

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