IT SEEMED somehow appropriate on Ryder Cup weekend, so having parked the car I followed the lead of some Shrewsbury fans and took a short cut across Meole Brace Golf Course to get to the Greenhous Meadow ground.
Ian Poulter fever had apparently not broken out in this part of Shropshire as there were so few people playing that there was little chance of having to avoid a wayward six iron.
The stadium itself is a nice, clean if rather soulless place. With all four corners open, there is never any chance of any real atmosphere building, though the rival fans adjacent to each in one corner did their best for the first 20 minutes of the game.
We arrived to hear of Paolo’s first rabbit out of the hat – six changes to the side that had been brilliant against Burnley. And I thought he said on Tuesday that he wasn’t going to make any changes after that win.
The big surprise was Nathan Thompson not even being on the bench after the heroics of his first two starts.
While Paolo’s plan did not exactly backfire, Swindon did not find top gear until the second half when the manager saw sense and re-introduced Tommy Miller and Gary Roberts.
On the evidence of this one game admittedly, Shrewsbury have gone backwards compared to the team that gave us a torrid time periodically at the County Ground last season.
Putting playmaker Marc Richards on the left of midfield seems an odd tactic and when he moved back inside in the second half the momentum was all with Swindon.
The only Shrew I would have happily seen in a red shirt was Reading loanee Michael Hector, who had an excellent game. But then we are blessed with a lot of good centre backs.
Ironically, it was Hector’s only mistake which helped set up our best chance of the first half; but Andy Williams kept pushing himself wider looking for a clearer sight on goal and when he did pull the trigger, James Collins somehow managed to blast the rebound into the crowd from four yards.
With Alan McCormack back to his best in our back four, the pressure began to build at the other end and we were well worth the points when they were eventually secured in the 79th minute with that rare collector’s item – a Simon Ferry goal.
Ferry is such a ball of energy and was still bombing forward in support of the attack right until the end. He showed good technique, too, to put away a difficult bouncing ball with a sweet volley.
The scintillating football of the previous three wins was less in evidence but it was a good professional job in the end – though there will be much tougher tests than Shrewsbury to come. PS: No surprise that Luke Rooney has gone out on loan to Burton Albion. Di Canio seemed to love him from afar when he was at Gillingham but the ardour soon ebbed away when he joined our squad.