View From the Bycars
May God forgive me, but when I looked at the weather forecast for the weekend I was rather hoping the game would be called off. A sticky dog of a pitch and strong winds did not offer much prospect of an entertaining spectacle, but in the event it wasn`t the conditions that gave Vale most problems, it was the opposition. I should come clean. Swindon Town are not among my favourite clubs. They wouldn`t be even if they allowed us to win a game now and again. I`ll say no more, for that way lawyers lie.
Swindon obviously, and correctly, thought that the playing conditions were a significant factor by choosing to play against the wind in the first half. Despite this, they dominated the game territorially, forcing a series of challenging corners. At no point did Vale succeed in establishing a platform in midfield. It was therefore something of a surprise when they scored. Myrie-Williams got a decent ball for the first time in the game, beat his full back, crossed with the outside of his left foot into the six yard box where Loft appeared out of nowhere to finish brilliantly at the near post. Vale then went two up after Archibald-Henville, who looked the weak link in the Swindon team, headed a left wing cross against one of his own players. The ball fell to Pope, who really ought to have buried it, but did enough for the ball to creep in at the post. Two nil at half time really flattered the Vale. I never felt that we had enough to win the game if Swindon managed to get the next goal, which they duly did.
Vale were utterly outplayed in the second half. Micky Adams recognised that the midfield needed reinforcing by making an early substitution, bringing on Griffith for Tomlin, who had had a poor game. Griffith then contrived to have an absolute stinker himself. He was at fault in the build up to Swindon`s first goal and gave away a stupid and unnecessary foul that led to Swindon`s second, from a well struck free kick by Pritchard. From that moment Swindon ran riot. Luongo controlled the game and Vale could not cope with the movement of Ranger and the close control of (the irritating little) Pritchard. All these players looked capable of playing at a higher level.
Swindon players ran off their markers all over the pitch. They closed the Vale down high up the field and we could barely get out of our half, not helped by playing against a very strong wind, though this did not seem to have inconvenienced Swindon as much in the first half. We were lucky that Swindon didn`t score six. I thought that Joe Davis did well in the circumstances. He was not helped by both full backs having poor games and Robertson, as ever, not punching his weight. Vale`s defensive frailties are not down to the defence alone, however. The midfield provided no protection whatsoever and individual errors keep recurring. That`s nine goals we have conceded in the last three games - against three very different teams. And in case you haven`t noticed we are only one point closer to the play-offs than we are from the relegation zone. There are some very important games coming up.