TOWN FLIER is the weekly fans’ blog about all matters relating to Swindon Town FC
SOMETIMES there is no pleasing Paolo. We have all become addicted to his lengthy, entertaining, but often impenetrable post-match monologues on BBC Wiltshire.
But he has started the last two with one short, pithy phrase: ‘I am not happy’.
On Saturday, at Carlisle, he did not like coming away with just a point after his side had dominated their Brunton Park opponents in a 2-2 draw. Cruelly, the hardy Swindon fans who had suffered an eight-hour motorway-delayed journey to the cusp of Scotland missed the game’s four goals in the first half.
On Tuesday night, it was to Portsmouth’s Fratton Park when for long periods in the first hour Swindon were devastating. But, again, despite creating about a dozen chances, they put away only two.
Each was highly significant. Matt Richie scored on his return to his boyhood club and, to the relief of anyone with an interest in Swindon Town, the hard-working Andy Williams got his first goal for the club.
Swindon then did a professional job of protecting their lead until with ten minutes to go, Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton sent Luke Rodgers on to play up front, switching Izale McLeod out wide and giving former Swindon man Brian Howard licence to roam in support of the lone striker. Suddenly Pompey looked world beaters. Wes Foderingham had to make a string of top-drawer saves, one after a Groundhog Day-like Preston moment when he fluffed a clearance, and Swindon were relieved to hear the final whistle as 2-1 victors.
Hence Paolo’s inability to celebrate the three valuable points.
He was, however, delighted for Williams, a player he has backed to the hilt despite the goal drought, and for Nathan Thompson, the young right back making his first start who was tough in the tackle and gave Ritchie the sort of back up down the right flank we got used to in the days of the now-departed Paul Caddis.
The once miserly defence may be handing out too many gifts but at least we are looking a potent attacking threat again.
Two years ago at Wembley we were a game away from playing in the Championship. So any fans who think that a top-ten finish is acceptable in League One this season are missing the point. If you don’t think Paolo has been given a promotion budget to work with, ask Carlisle boss Greg Abbot, who himself tried to lure Gary Roberts to Brunton Park in the summer.
“We put two players on the pitch who are on combined wages of less than what some of their (Swindon’s) players will pay in tax,” said Carlisle’s boss.
Paolo, the perfectionist, was unhappy with his play-off chasing team for not collect all six points on their travels.
Sometimes, though, you have to give credit to the opposition and in Gillespie and Anderson, Carlisle and Portsmouth had goalies who single-handedly prevented runaway successes for the Reds.