MATCH REPORT: Doncaster Rovers - Swindon Town (nPower League One)
Keepmoat Stadium, Match Day 45
Swindon Town Starting XI: Foderingham; Bandalovski (C), Hall, McShane, Masenamela; Roberts, Väyrynen (Bostock ‘71), Maric, Ritchie; J. Green (Bald) (Rooney ‘71), J. Green (Other) (Williamson ‘71)
Swindon Town Substitutes: Archibald-Henville, Bostock, Williamson, Rooney, Bedwell, Coke, McCormack
Doncaster Rovers Starting XI: Sullivan; Quinn, Martis, McCombe, Spurr; Bennett, Harper (Syers ‘62), Woods (Keegan ‘64), Cotterill; Hume, Paynter
Doncaster Rovers Substitutes: Woods, Jones, Syers, Brown, Husband, Blake, Keegan
Invariably some Swindon supporters will be grateful there wasn’t another nil-nil draw. And certainly most supporters can be grateful that the side performed with such authority earlier in the campaign. It’s clear now that Swindon needed that cushion they gave themselves at the top of the table, because this team has gone pear-shaped.
The first half gave the away support a measure of encouragement. Swindon spent the first 45 minutes relentlessly knocking on the door, creating some of their best chances in over a month, with Doncaster’s back line forced into frantic scrambles. Sullivan performed admirably when his defenders came up short with some improbable saves and a nervy goal-line clearance. Even well into the second half he was forced into displays of heroics, deftly stopping an Other John Green breakaway in the 60th minute that had visiting Swindon supporters in the North Stand at Keepmoat on their feet.
But this is a Swindon side that still cannot find the back of the net. Even a revitalization of their attack in the 74th minute when Gaffer Green used all three substitutes (!) to give the Johns Green and Väyrynen a rest wasn’t enough to regain the pace and pressure the team showed earlier in the match.
Swindon started to wear down by the 65th minute. Bad line-clearances created surprise chances for Doncaster that almost put them in front. With fatigue came bad decision-making, which gave way to bad passing and bad positioning. The back line became unzipped in the 75th minute when Syers slipped two markers and found himself on goal from the wing, slotting a shot past Foderingham but hitting the post (as stalwart and effective a defender as Swindon has had all month).
Doncaster finally punished Swindon for their disorganization in the 83rd minute, when a sloppy pass Foderingham intended for Bandalovski was picked off by Paynter, who easily dribbled past the keeper and tapped the ball into an empty net. Swindon mounted a desperate attempt at a come-back, but the tank was empty. Another bad clearance in stoppage time ended with Hume rolling a slow ball into the far corner with Foderingham looking on in disbelief.
With today’s win Doncaster secured automatic promotion to the Championship. A dejected Swindon squad was forced to watch Doncaster players and supporters celebrate after the final whistle. Swindon will have their own celebration next week at home against Leeds, where they’ll be awarded the League One trophy as the Town End sings “We Are Going Up.” But the celebrations will have a note of bitterness, as supporters (and players, and certainly the Gaffer) will have watched their side implode down the stretch and look towards next season with more than a hint of worry.
Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Swindon Town
Scoreline: Paynter (DON) ‘83, Hume (DON) ‘90+1