TOWN FLIER: Let's become a crossing team again
SWINDON TOWN boss Mark Cooper may have to tweak his footballing philosophy if Swindon Town’s league campaign is not to peter out.
Two dispiriting away defeats to strictly limited opposition in Stevenage and Gillingham was a warning sign and had struggling Shrewsbury gained the win they deserved on Saturday at the County Ground any thoughts of the play-offs may have been banished.
As I pointed out in August, Town’s intricate passing game was all well and good on the billiard table pitches of the summer but on the pudding-like surfaces of winter it was never going to be as effective. The lack of physical stature in the Town team and the shortage of men/warriors when conditions were as horrendous as they were on Saturday also becomes an issue.
Town’s win came out of the blue thanks to last-gasp goals. Even with Nile Ranger and Michael Smith on the field together in the second half it was not working but then suddenly the two of them played a couple of get-out-of-jail cards. It could be the way forward.
That does not mean that we lump it high and not so handsome but perhaps we should take a leaf out of the Danny Wilson coaching manual.
Wilson used to judge a performance by the number of balls that went into the opposition box. The best cross on Saturday came from Smith in the first half when he was the only striker on the field!
It does not matter whether the crosses come from wingers, wing backs or overlapping full backs. Let’s get the ball in the danger areas and, with two strikers up top (perm any two of Ranger, Smith and Barker) at least opposition centre backs will have something to think about.
Player of the season Alex Pritchard and the soon-to-return Tijane Reis can supply the ammo; it may also help to resurrect the season of Nathan Thompson who has been a shadow of the player who was vying for man of the match status in every game last term.
Oh, and let’s have Massimo Luongo charging forward into the box and Yaser Kasim protecting the back four – both their strengths are being negated by playing them the other way around.
We are none the wiser as to whether new boy Michael Smith has a shot in either foot after one game but you can’t knock a debutant whos scores two goals, both coolly taken. He then made it three goals in the vital away draw at Walsall on Tuesday night.
He did not win the number of flick-ons someone of 6ft 4in should, but he was hard to shake off the ball and the 50-yard chase back to the corner flag to win a tackle when colleagues were out of position showed a crowd pleasing work ethic.