OUT with the old, in with the new. Swindon Town ended 2012 with a 5-0 win at home against Tranmere and on the first day of the New Year repeated the feat when eventually dismissing Portsmouth.
Put the Tranmere first half (when we scored four) and the second half against Pompey (when we put away five) and you have just about the perfect 90 minutes of football.
James Collins has not lived up to my billing that he would be the key summer signing when coming from Shrewsbury but there are two games in a Town shirt which he will never forget – the hat-trick at Premiership Stoke and his four goals past Pompey in little more than 20 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Having been frustrated by Portsmouth for an hour, Collins was Paolo Di Canio’s third and final substitution. Inspired management or a desperate last throw of the dice?
Of course, Collins will rightly get the plaudits. They were all well-taken poacher’s goals in or around the six-yard box and he set up the other goal, too. I especially liked his first when he showed great determination to hustle past his marker to score with a diving header.
But the contribution of captain Alan McCormack should not go unheralded.
Macca hit three sublime inch-perfect balls for the final three goals.
Firstly to Collins, who then pulled it back for Hollands to score; secondly, the long ball to Ritchie who then picked out Collins for his fourth, and finally the ball straight on to Collins head for his fifth.
It was also Macca’s fine 40-yard pass which set up Andy Williams’ best scoring opportunity in the first half.
Fifth place in League One with two games in hand is a place most Swindon fans would be happy to accept at this stage. And the conspiracy theories about how both Orient ad Colchester managed to dodge us by prematurely calling off our Christmas games with them appear to have subsided.
It’s January and that means the transfer window is open; frankly, if there were no activity I would not be too perturbed.
Paolo has been noticeably bigging up his loan players (even the palpably unsuccessful ones) ahead of perhaps extending their deals to the end of the season. The key one he needs to nail down is Darren Ward, who has been immense after an inauspicious start to his Swindon career.
And it goes without saying that we must hang on to our Crown Jewels like Matt Ritchie and Wes Foderingham whatever blandishments are put in front of the board.