TOWN FLIER: Swindon's play-off hopes fade after another lacklustre effort

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Ryan Harley, who came back to form for Swindon Town against Crawley Ryan Harley, who came back to form for Swindon Town against Crawley

SWINDON TOWN stuttered to a 1-1 draw against Crawley on Tuesday night as their play-off hopes faded still further, writes Andrew Steele-Davis.

Town have been off colour at ‘fortress’ County Ground since the tail end of November and their season is threatening to peter out. They have won just one of their last eight league and cup outings.

Before we focus on Town’s latest home disappointment, let’s go back to last Saturday when Town slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of League 1 high-fliers Leyton Orient.

Town boss Mark Cooper was forced to field a makeshift starting XI, with the likes of Alex Pritchard, Wes Foderingham and Louis Thompson all missing from action.

Nathan Thompson, one of Town’s leading lights this season, also missed out through suspension as did Jay McEveley which meant Swindon faced an uphill battle from the start.

Cooper’s men looked okay in the first half, but their second half performance was well below par. However, it was two self-inflicted wounds that proved to be the visitors' undoing as Orient were gifted two penalties.

Jamie Reckord’s tackle for the first spot-kick of the afternoon was both reckless and needless while Troy Archibald-Henville’s challenge for the second one was just clumsy.

Back to Tuesday night’s game against Crawley then, a match Town needed to win in order to keep alive their ever fading play-off hopes.

Despite a bright opening 10 minutes, Town looked laboured and devoid of ideas throughout in what was a horrible, turgid affair.

Crawley didn’t look much better but they forced Town into a string of mistakes, most notably McEveley’s misplaced pass which led to Andy Drury slamming wide within the first minute.

Town were sloppy in possession and their final ball at times left a lot to be desired. Town’s goal, although initially thought to have gone in off Nathan Byrne, will go down as a Joe Walsh own goal.

Town had chances to extend their lead, Dany N’Guessan having three good chances to clinch that all important second goal, but it wasn’t to be as Matt Tubbs was in the right place at the right time to steer home.

On a brighter note, the Crawley game did see a much improved performance from Ryan Harley, who has struggled to escape from a lull in his form in recent months.

The former Brighton and Swansea man looked good on the ball and added an attacking edge to Town’s play.

Mark Cooper will be hoping for more of the same from the midfielder in order for Town to salvage their season.

And good luck to Town midfielder Massimo Luongo who has been included in Australia's 23-man squad for next Wednesday's international friendly with Ecuador at The Den.

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