TOWN FLIER: Dons dash Swindon's last play-off dreams

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Swindon's Michael Smith has refound his goalscoring touch Swindon's Michael Smith has refound his goalscoring touch

SO, that is it then, Town have been confined to another season in League One. Although their play-off aspirations have taken repeated hammer blows in recent weeks, the final nail in the proverbial coffin came on Saturday when MK Dons rolled into town, writes Andrew Steele-Davis.

Swindon were much the better team in the first half, spraying the ball about with a purpose and a swagger that had been missing from the majority of home games since Christmas. Alex Pritchard, playing his first game after two weeks out with medial ligament damage, looked lively and it was his shot that led to the opener.

After cutting in, Pritchard unleashed a curling shot which Dons keeper David Martin spilled and Michael Smith was in the right place to nod home into an empty net. It was the big striker's first goal since his strike in the 1-1 draw against Walsall on January 28.

However, a case of deja vu struck those inside the County Ground in the second half. As has so often been the case this season, Town sat far too deep allowing the Dons to impose themselves. And the pressure soon told. Antony Kay was allowed a free header from a corner to haul MK level before the final blow to Town's fading play-off dreams came late on.

George Baldock was allowed to cut in from the right wing before unleashing a stunning shot which flew past Tyrell Belford to send the travelling fans into pandemonium.

It was goal worthy of winning any game and it gives MK their own shot at the play-offs.

League leaders Wolves arrived in SN1 on Tuesday night having equalled a club record of eight wins on the bounce.

They have a vast array of talent and two players in particular, Bakary Sako and Nouha Dicko, gave Town nightmares.

Their combined pace and power, along with some sublime passing, ripped the Town defence apart and they both got on the scoresheet, with Sako notching twice.

Michael Smith pulled one back with a neat finish to record his second goal in as many games.

But, Leon Clarke, such a popular figure among Town fans (!), wanted the final say and got it when he skipped past challenge after challenge in a mazy determined run before clipping the ball past Belford in the Town goal from an unlikely angle to make it 4-1.

With nothing to play for now, Town do have local pride at stake when they travel to Bristol for the derby against City on Saturday.

Nile Ranger's last-minute winner had given Town the bragging rights in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Can Town repeat the feat and give their fans something to cheer about?

TOWN'S Alex Pritchard, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, is on the three-man shortlist for the Football League Young Player of the Year award. Gareth Bale won the prize when with Southampton in 2007.

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