Good Friday League Two: Swindon To Stay In Easter Play-Off Hunt?4 min read
Swindon’s strong showings
Swindon Town’s run of three consecutive draws is not ideal for their play-off hopes – especially with Exeter and Forest Green winning last time out – but Richie Wellens can take encouragement from his side’s performances.
"I've always said that I want my team to express themselves – I think you can see that in the way that we play. We are playing with a freedom but what we're lacking is that ruthless cutting edge."#STFC 🔴 pic.twitter.com/zLWen9qre3
— Swindon Town FC (@Official_STFC) April 16, 2019
They pressed with intensity in the first half against Yeovil, when they created numerous chances but were undone by one slight lapse in concentration from an injury-time free-kick, meaning they drew 1-1 a game they should have won comfortably.
The following Tuesday, the Robins drew 0-0 at Newport – but were denied themselves by a goalkeeping masterclass.
The subsequent 2-2 draw at Oldham was slightly more even, with Swindon not quite at their strongest defensively, but once again there was plenty to like about them going forward – Kyle Knoyle’s deliveries made the right-back a real asset.
Wellens was happy to risk starting creative maestros Kyle Bennett and fit again Michael Doughty in the same XI, outside the three forwards in his 4-3-3.
The rewards for such bravery are exciting and some of Swindon’s interplay at Boundary Park was once again very impressive, with Bennett going on some mazy dribbles between lines and Doughty picking pinpoint passes in behind.
Whether the duo’s simultaneous presence is workable without the ball – considering the emphasis on high-pressing in Wellens’ system – remains to be seen.
However, Swindon appear to be getting ever closer to bridging that gap from being an enterprising outfit to becoming a well-oiled, winning machine – it’s just a question of whether that shift will happen at the end of this season or the start of next.
Cambridge’s defensive troubles
Cambridge United lost 3-0 at home to Newport on Saturday and what will concern manager Colin Calderwood is that the goals they conceded had as much to do with their own passive defending as anything else.
📽️ Colin Calderwood frank assessment on Saturday's performance against Newport County.
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) April 15, 2019
Neither Brad Halliday, George Taft nor Jake Doyle-Hayes – the three men closest to Padraig Amond for the opener – are aerial specialists, but the golden rule of defending crosses is, even if it is difficult to win the header outright, do not to let the opponents have a free effort at goal.
For the second goal from a corner, Cambridge left as many as six-men around the six-yard box and that type of set piece defending rarely works.
If the ball goes into an advanced area, there is ambiguity as to whose job it is to take charge and, more pertinently in the U’s case, if it goes away from the six-yard box, it is hard to then stop their opponents getting a strike away at the second attempt.
That approach could be problematic against Swindon, who have improved their use of short corners recently and are likely to exploit the lack of pressure on the ball with strong technical quality.
Wellens’ men look underrated at the Abbey.
Tip: Swindon to win
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