I was really looking forward to Matt Taylor’s first game as interim manager and was hoping for the best outcome for him, writes Peter Mitchell.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disaster, both for himself and the team.

Swindon have a poor record against local rivals Cheltenham Town and nothing changed with this abject display in a thoroughly scrappy match.

Town made several changes, mainly resulting from injuries, and gave a debut start to goalkeeper Stuart Moore, after Reice Charles-Cook suffered a wrist injury. Matt Taylor started himself at wing back and, in hindsight, must wonder whether instead he should have orchestrated things from the touchline. However, he was almost the only Swindon player to come out of this game with any credit and gave his usual hard working, up and down the flanks, display.

The home side started with promise, on the offensive from the off, and winning a succession of corners in the first 15 minutes. But that’s really as good as it got. Town had a let off with half an hour gone, when there was a big shout for a penalty after Taylor collided heavily with Kevin Dawson.

In the first half Swindon restricted themselves to lobbing hopeful crosses into the visitors’ box against the tall visiting defenders. Any imagination seemed to have gone walk-about.

Cheltenham made the break-through five minutes before the break when Jake Andrews hit a swerving free kick over the Town wall.

In the second half, top scorer Mohamed Eisa, who was being given far too much room by the Town defence, added to his impressive tally with two further goals, to seal a convincing win for the visitors.

His second came after Oluwasanmi Odelusi had outstripped at least four Swindon players on an 80-yard run, before squaring the ball to him.

As if things couldn’t get a lot worse, the scoreboard inadvertently showed a 4-0 lead for the visitors!

Town managed just two shots on goal in the entire game and showed a total lack of inventiveness. They were outpaced by the visiting attack, made too many poor passes and were always second best in midfield. They seemed obsessed in playing balls in the air rather than keeping it on the ground.

Timi Elsnik (who might well still be carrying an injury) was invisible; Keshi Anderson continues to be largely ineffective; and the two strikers (Marc Richards and Luke Norris) never looked like winning much in their battle up front. The make-shift defence, that has been decimated by injuries, looked even more fragile and uncertain. Three central defenders may not be the best option now they have such a limited choice.

It was a difficult first game for Moore. He had little chance with the goals but did make two splendid saves after the break.

In his honest post-match interview Taylor said that their game plan had “gone to pot” after the first 15 minutes and he couldn’t really pinpoint why. During the past 10 days he has praised his players for their hard work, commitment and support, but they definitely didn’t repay these endorsements with their individual performances. Most certainly they sold him short. Let’s hope he gets another chance to prove that his squad is better than this – after all, any new manager will need weeks to assess the players and work out their best formation, and there are now only ten matches remaining. Whether Chairman Lee Power will be big enough to continue with Taylor, or will instead opt for a manager desperate for an opportunity to get back into the mix, remains to be seen.

Following this result Town drop out of the play-off places and their goal difference has now all but disappeared. They face two difficult away games next (Cambridge United and Exeter City) but what will be interesting is how they pick themselves up from this depressing display.