By Peter Mitchell

Another long midweek trip for Swindon, this time to the north-west and Accrington Stanley, ended in a disappointing 2-1 defeat.

On a cold night, with a covering of snow on parts of the pitch, the hardy 218 Town supporters saw little to cheer about as Swindon lost an opportunity to strengthen their hold on a play-off position. Unfortunately, one or two hot meat pies would have offered little compensation for their commendable commitment!

There were three changes from the side that started at Lincoln. Rollin Menayese stood in for the suspended Matt Preston at the back; Kyle Knoyle was preferred to Kellan Gordon as wing back; and James Dunne replaced, the presumably injured, Keshi Anderson in midfield.

Town made a bright start with some useful attacks but Stanley’s speedy Kaydon Jackson gave the Swindon defenders early warning that he was there to pose them a few problems.

After 20 minutes Ollie Banks almost caught the home goalkeeper napping when he tried a 40-yard speculative volley.

A couple of minutes later and Swindon gave away another, seemingly needless, penalty. Matt Taylor ankle-tapped Sean McConville and top scorer Billy Kee converted.

Shortly after half-time the manager made a positive double substitution with Kellan Gordon and Paul Mullin replacing Knoyle and Dunne. Other than in the very early stages, Swindon were creating few real chances, and seemed more intent on playing the long ball game rather than to feet.

On 62 minutes a quick break from the home side saw the ball played to Jackson who, after getting the better of Menayese, put the ball away past Charles-Cook.

This must have been a sweet moment for the scorer as it was he, four years ago, who had won a competition for a professional contract with Swindon Town, only to never make a first team appearance.

Twenty minutes from the end Town were given a life-line when Mullin was brought down in the box, and Marc Richards hit home the perfect spot kick. But disaster was to strike almost immediately as Swindon shot themselves in the foot. Gordon, having been involved in an altercation, was dismissed with a straight red for violent conduct.

There was a great save from Charles-Cook late on to keep Swindon in the game but although the visitors pressed forward they didn’t seriously trouble a very competent Accrington defence.

With a sudden flurry of matches and a lot of travelling this was probably a game too far for a jaded looking Town team.

However, there is little respite, as they now face two top five sides in the next week – Mansfield at home on Saturday and then a trip to second-placed Wycombe on Tuesday. Four points must be the expectation, but they will need to be hard won.