Town Flier with Peter Mitchell

Swindon Town 3 Rochdale 1 – September 12, 2020

Swindon’s last match – more than six months ago – ended in huge disappointment when they lost at home to Forest Green Rovers.

Then some months later, a total mood reversal occurred when the unprecedented situation resulted in the town being declared League 2 Champions.

Deservedly so, as no team had won more points, and the Swindon had accumulated their tally in one less game than their immediate challengers.

However, it still left a very empty feeling for most supporters.

Over the summer Swindon lost their entire attack in the shape of Doyle, Yates, Anderson and Woolery – a hefty 46 league goals between them last season – and then most recently suffered the added blow of losing playmaker Michael Doughty, for personal reasons.

Nevertheless, Swindon moved up into League 1 and started their new campaign last Saturday against Rochdale.

Recruitment over the summer had seemed slow, and it appears the predicted glut of players looking for new clubs didn’t happen.

Despite Swindon making offers to retain several players, they were able to find better deals elsewhere.

Fortunately, the town managed to keep key player Anthony Grant and also signed former Norwich loanee Diallang Jaiyesimi – both tremendous acquisitions in my opinion.

Richie Wellens has brought in a mix of youth to supplement his experienced heads and there have been interesting new loan signings in the shape of Matej Kovar, promising young Man Utd keeper; Matt Smith (Arsenal), Tyler Smith (Sheff Utd) and Jonny Smith (Bristol City).

The most recent signing was veteran striker Brett Pitman, who at 32 could prove to be still very useful.

There seems to be ample potential for confusion this season with three Smiths, as well as back up keeper Joe Fryer and defender Zeki Fryers!

Lining up against Rochdale were six new faces and Swindon were without a single recognised central defender, with only newcomer young Akin Odimayo being fit.

Although the visitors looked lacklustre, Town looked sharp and quick for the most part, and fairly coasted to their surprising but welcome 3-1 victory.

Tyler Smith opened the scoring after only four minutes and then, after superb individual play and a great cross by Jaiyesimi, Anthony Grant beat three defenders to nod in at the far post.

Swindon had it wrapped up by half-time when Matt Smith made the most of poor goalkeeping to make it three.

Sadly, the town didn’t keep a clean sheet and will be frustrated to have let in a late Rochdale consolation with nine defenders in their box.

Unfortunately, we supporters have been left with the no other option but to watch Swindon perform in empty stadia through the EFL supported streaming service, iFollow.

My experience to date of this has been frustrating and disappointing, but at least there is the excellent BBC Wiltshire radio commentary to fall back on.

Next Saturday we can hopefully watch a real test of their potential when they visit one of the fancied sides, Blackpool – complete with Swindon old boys Keshi Anderson and Jerry Yates.

This is a tough league and, with strong contenders like Sunderland, Charlton, Ipswich, Wigan and Portsmouth, the Town will do well to make the top ten.