HAVING dissed Swindon Town for their last two abysmal performances at home, it is time to dish out some credit – they were magnificent in the 2-2 JPT Area Final first leg at Peterborough.
When they went 2-0 down in the first quarter-hour it looked as if the dream of going to Wembley had been shattered.
When Jay McEveley unintentionally put Assombalonga out of the game with a head-high challenge early in the 35th minute and saw red, Town were left with another mountain to climb.
Andy yet if either team deserved to win the tie it was Swindon.
For much of the second half it was Posh who looked as if they had only 10 men on the field, with Wes Foderingham hardly being required to make a save.
Welcome back Yaser Kasim, Massimo Luongo and Nathan Thompson who all suddenly rediscovered their A-game.
In the second half, in particular, Kasim dominated like a Premier League player, though a loose tongue earned him a 10th booking and a two-match ban. McEveley will presumably get more than that for his second red of the season.
For once Town matched their opponents for physical stature with McEveley back in the side after injury and a first start for the 6ft plus Ben Gladwin in midfield.
Gladwin was a bit of a revelation with an encouraging willingness to run at the defence. There was little end product and he made the wrong decisions on occasion, proving overly greedy on his first TV appearance, but now we can see what Town spotted when he was playing recently for non-league Marlow.
We also saw why manager Cooper had been reluctant to draft centre back Raphael Branco into the team earlier. Even without the spectacular own goal, he was at the heart of most of our defensive frailities in the opening 45.
But at least he gathered himself after the break and was solid thereafter.
Dany N’Guessan, too, having been invisible before the interval, put in a shift and a half for the cause in the second half. Throughout the team there was class, an enormous work ethic and, yes, heart.
We look forward to the second leg with renewed optimism. More of the same and a Wembley visit is definitely on the cards.