SWINDON TOWN followed up their disappointing defeat at Grimsby in midweek with an even more dismal performance on Saturday at home to Newport County. Those fans who chose to miss this game in order to do some early Christmas shopping made a wise decision, writes Peter Mitchell.

Swindon replaced Kaiyne Woolery and Kellan Gordon with Ellis Iandolo and Paul Mullin in the starting line up. The extent of Town's injury list was exemplified by their having to recall both Tom Smith and James Brophy from loan arrangements in order to fill the bench.

Good football was at a premium for the first 45 minutes but Newport looked more organised and slightly the more menacing.

Former Swindon Youth star Ben Tozer (who in 2008 as a 17-year-old moved to Newcastle United) was proving dangerous with a number of well-aimed long throws into the home box.

Town were creating very little although Mullin did have two good chances, but blazed both opportunities well wide.

One bright spot was that Iandolo was capably keeping the physical Frank Nouble on a tight leash. In truth the whole Swindon defence was doing a very reasonable job with both Olly Lancashire and Matt Preston winning plenty of important headers.

Clearly the problem was with the midfield and attack. Half time came as a welcome relief from a scrappy nondescript game.

Not a lot changed in the second half, with Swindon persistently giving the ball away cheaply and putting very few decent moves together.

It was difficult to believe these were essentially the same players who had put together such flowing moves against both Yeovil and Port Vale. Obviously the absence of influential midfielders such as Elsnik, Linganzi and McDermott was playing a major part.

County came closest in the 62nd minute when Shawn McCoulsky's fierce drive was deflected just wide. Immediately afterwards Swindon did come close on two occasions.

In the 75th minute after several corners, defender Tozer rose highest to outdo the Town defence and power the ball into the net.

It wasn't until this point that Swindon deemed substitutions to be necessary and both Woolery and Gordon were brought on in quick succession.

With the 90 minutes up Town made their final change when the recalled Brophy replaced the surprisingly ineffective Mullin. Swindon then proceeded to exert more concerted pressure on the County defence in stoppage time than in the whole of the match.

First Woolery's cross shot was stopped by a one-handed save from County keeper Joe Day; then a mazy run by Brophy inside the box ended with a shot deflected narrowly wide; and finally, from a corner, Matt Preston thumped a great header against the bar.

But it was a case of far too little and far too late.

This time Manager David Flitcroft can't blame the result on either poor refereeing decisions or travelling – it was just a very below par performance with Swindon looking anything but a promotion contender.

This was the first time Swindon have suffered two consecutive defeats this season since the two humiliating home defeats against Barnet and Crawley back in August.

Worryingly, with so many key players unavailable, Town now have some very difficult fixtures coming up in the next month.

After the tricky FA Cup tie against Stevenage next Saturday, there are league fixtures against the teams currently occupying all three automatic promotion places in League Two - Accrington Stanley, Luton Town and Notts County.

Let's just hope this isn't the start of a really bad run and that Swindon can start winning points again – especially at home.