Swindon Town 0

Newport County 2

The only consolation I can get from this game is that at least I don’t have to watch Newport every week. In fairness they came with a game plan to take a point and came away with a bonus – but it wasn’t pretty to watch, writes Peter Mitchell.

The visitors had physique in abundance and, when it came to out-muscling, they were undoubtedly the experts.

The whole game was ruined for Town as early as the 5th minute when, following a heavy 50-50 tackle, centre half and captain Dion Conroy was taken off distraught and in agony. In response manager Richie Wellens surprised almost everyone by bringing on Adam May, a midfielder, and putting Anthony Grant back in central defence.

Grant made a good job of his emergency role but Swindon definitely missed his strength in the middle of the park as a result. What does it say though for the TWO central defenders – Tom Broadbent and Taylor Curran – who remained sitting on the bench?

Just before the interval, Mark O’Brien opened the scoring for County when, from a corner, he was left completely alone at the back post by goalkeeper Luke McCormick and his entire defence.

The enforced reorganisation had completely disrupted both Swindon’s play and strategy and it wasn’t until the second half that they began playing the flowing football we have got used to. However, they still managed to create very few chances and the roving, taunting Lloyd Isgrove looked to be the only player likely to unlock the Newport back door.

He should have been the hero on the hour mark, but instead he struck the bar with an open goal gaping. An equaliser then could have turned the game completely, but it was not to be and Newport wrapped it up ten minutes from time when the combined presence of McCormick and sub Tyler Reid failed to stop Jamille Matt scoring, this time at the near post.

Once again we had a taste of the awful officiating at this level – I wonder how many cornflake packet tops referee David Rock had to collect to get his qualification! An inconsistent and error-ridden performance worthy of a special award.

A couple of weeks back I said that the Swindon squad was looking strong, but I was concerned about there being enough cover in the centre of defence. Now, with both Mathieu Baudry and Dion Conroy out – and the manager seeming to lack confidence in his two possible replacements - they will be really stretched.

We are already a quarter of the way through the season and, although the points tally is a reasonable one, it is worrying that Swindon have lost three of their six home games. As in recent seasons, once again it is only their record on the road that is maintaining their high position.

Good luck to Dion and let’s hope that he has some better news once a full examination has taken place. The fact that he has now suffered the same injury, to the same leg, that kept him out for many months before, must be of significant concern.

The depleted Swindon squad make the long trip to Bradford next week and the team selection will be interesting.