Swindon made a disappointing trip to Derbyshire on Saturday when they went down 2-1 against the bottom but one side, Chesterfield, writes Peter Mitchell.

The shine seems to be fading on Town’s great away record as this was their third away defeat on the trot.

Kellan Gordon, back after suspension, replaced Timi Elsnik in midfield, and skipper Olly Lancashire made a comeback from injury. The other change in the starting line up was Paul Mullin being preferred to Luke Norris up front.

Swindon got off to an awful start when their defensive frailties again came to the fore. In only the second minute a cross was only parried by Reice Charles-Cook and the ball rebounded off Spireites striker Chris O’Grady, who was probably as surprised as anyone to see the ball in the net.

More misfortune fell their way after only 27 minutes when the skipper’s return was cut short when he pulled a calf muscle. For the rest of a fairly lifeless first half Swindon didn’t really look like getting back on level terms, with laboured build-ups and very little in the way of creativity.

Only five minutes after the restart Town’s problems doubled when a great curling shot from Andy Kellett found its mark.

With an hour gone Swindon made a double substitution with Norris and Kaiyne Woolery coming on for midfielders Keshi Anderson and Gordon. With four strikers now on the field it was an all or nothing attempt to retrieve the situation.

Almost immediately there was more positivity about the Town’s play and Woolery made several pacey runs at the home defence. Marc Richards missed a great opportunity when his header from only 7 yards out went wide.

Things then got even worse for Swindon when Ollie Banks was shown a straight red for an OTT tackle.

Swindon’s marked improvement was rewarded with 15 minutes remaining. Matt Taylor provided yet another assist when his superb freekick was headed in by substitute Chris Robertson to throw the visitors a lifeline.

For the last twenty minutes, and playing with no recognised midfielders, Swindon dominated and played their best football of the game, but without any further reward. Why on earth it had taken this long to find any real momentum was another mystery.

After the match, manager David Flitcroft admitted the first hour had been very disappointing with Town lacking quality and unable to do even the simple things well. His answer was to point to yet another hard week to come on the training ground.

Their depleted squad through continuing suspensions and injuries is a real cause for concern. However, they are not winning or controlling midfield adequately, and this is reducing the effectiveness of their frontmen. Anderson still has a lot to prove and has had too many very average games. Banks is definitely and in and out midfielder – and you don’t expect to lose a key loan player at a critical time due to his own indiscipline.

With their fragile defence, and judging by the performance in the last half hour today, there must be a strong argument for an all-out offensive strategy for the final eleven games.

The Town are still hanging on to a play-off position and a place in the end of season lottery realistically now seems their best hope. The next two matches, both being at home against Yeovil and Cheltenham, are most definitely must win games.