BRING on the game of the season so far – our visit to AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
The 1,360 Swindon ticket allocation sold out very quickly but it is a match for which you must beg, borrow or steal a ticket.
Bournemouth extended their unbeaten run of games to 17 when forcing an FA Cup replay at Premiership Wigan – a run that coincided with the return of manager Eddie Howe.
Swindon Town’s form is not too shabby, either, topping Sky Sports’ current form league ahead of the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Benfica – oh, and Queen of the South!
A recent 5-0 win came against top-of-the table Tranmere but Saturday’s game is more significant. Ronnie Moore’s side – with four draws in their previous five matches – had just started to wobble when we met them.
That’s not the case with Bournemouth, who are absolutely flying. I can see these two sides claiming the two automatic promotion places and the match, while not actually settling the destination of the title, will give us a huge pointer. Paolo Di Canio has got his wish to hold on to loanees Hollandes and Martin for another month, but not Bostock who has returned to Spurs. We must be walking a tightrope again as far as the wages cap is concerned and paying off the last six months of Oliver Risser’s contract so he can go to Aldershot can’t have helped.
More players must come off the Town payroll to give Paolo extra bargaining power in the transfer market.
Aden Flint sadly looked set for the exit door but that plan may have been scuppered by the long-term injury to Troy Archibald-Henville, while the boss clearly wants Paul Benson to transfer away from Swindon in order to free up some wages. Luke Rooney and Lee Cox – neither of them heavily shop-soiled assets – may soon leave the payroll, too.
Paolo should have a full strength squad for the crunch weekend game when Bournemouth are sure to offer much more of a threat than Carlisle did last Saturday. Apart from a five-minute spell in the second half, Carlisle were woeful. Mind you, they bumped into an irresistible force in Swindon. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Andy Williams’ Gazza-esque opening goal looked even better on replay than live and his second goal came at the end of a simple move which was a thing of beauty.
The industrious Ferry and Hollandes dominated the midfield; Collins, still on a high after his four Pompey goals, was involved in almost every attack; the back five were faultless, even a restored Roberts was lively.
Something’s got to give on Saturday when the two big-budget juggernauts collide. Di Canio grabbed the weekend post-match headlines with his offer to spend up to £30,000 of his own money to secure the medium term future of his favourite loan players.
More sagely, he said he would like to know whether his Swindon side are capable of grinding out a 1-0 win in future games – perhaps by nicking a late goal.
I agree with him; 5-0 pastings do not determine title aspirations. But the character required to force 1-0 wins when the chips are down does. Swindon might have to show whether they have that trait on Saturday.