Swindon dump Premiership Stoke out of Capital One Cup
SWINDON TOWN’S victory at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday against Stoke will go down as one of the epic games in the club’s history.
Perhaps not on a par with the Wembley 4-3 play-off win against Leicester but a notch higher than the victory at Charlton in the semi-final play-off a couple of years back.
Unlike a lot of Premier League clubs in the early stages of such competitons, Stoke City were taking it very seriously.
Yes, there was some backs-to-the-wall defending to be done, but at times Town passed Premiership Stoke off the park, particularly in the first half when the 2-0 lead barely did them justice.
And then, having been pegged back twice, they had the resilience and character to grab the victory with a minute left of extra time. In fact, in the final five minutes they were battering Stoke all over again.
And how fitting that the winner, which completed James Collins’ hat-trick and saw Swindon into the third round draw, was the only one of seven on the night played in front of the delirious Swindon fans.
It was also great to see the architect of another giant-killing success, Paolo Di Canio, dragging his players out of the tunnel to salute the fans some more. What a night to be a proud Swindon Town fan.
Collins got the plaudits – and the match ball – doing a perfect poacher’s job and putting away three chances inside ten yards. How he must love the League Cup, having scored for Shrewsbury at both Derby County and Arsenal last term.
But Di Canio made a point of praising Collins’ as yet goal-less strike partner Andy Williams, who gave Robert Huth and the Stoke back four a torrid time with his strength and intelligent running.
As was the case on Saturday against Milton Keynes, what a shame he could not cap his splendid display with a well deserved goal. On Saturday, he crashed a late shot against the bar; last night he was too exhausted to put away his easiest chance of the night late on.
Everywhere you looked there were epic displays by Swindon players wearing their new away kit. The back four were superb, with Devera and Flint colossal.
Flint was asked to deal with Kenwyne Jones for 77 minutes and then cope with Peter Crouch for the final three-quarters of an hour. No wonder Swindon under Paolo have conceded so few goals.
When the inexperienced Nathan Thompson came off the bench the first thing he did was snap into a crunching tackle on Jermaine Pennent. The boy has the right attitude.
Jay McEveley lost a tooth in a challenge in the Milton Keynes game on Saturday and was in the wars again when forced groggily from the field after a clash with Jon Walters. But he was able to return for the on-pitch celebrations.
Of the midfield four, I thought Tommy Miller was outstanding, showing surprising resources of energy to play for the whole 120 minutes. The victory seemed to mean as much to him as any of the Swindon side.
Thankfully, we were spared the horrible penalty lottery – and even the most myopic Stoke fan could not deny we were worthy winners.
Already, the fine victory against MK Dons has been forgotten, but again what a significant message that sent out to our League One rivals – and how well did we play in that first half on Saturday?
Paolo insists the focus is already on the Preston game on Sunday.
Before that we have the transfer window shenanigans – cue more excitement as three new faces are expected, while hopefully none of Tuesday’s heroes will be leaving.