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Fan Nick Judd reflects on what has been a costly week for the Robins on the road...
Forget the romance of the FA Cup, Swindon and I had a massive argument at Histon last weekend, while I was close to dumping them on Wednesday night when defeat against Brighton in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy effectively ended our season.
Some call the JPT a joke competition, but had we beaten the Seagulls at the Withdean we would have been the highest-placed side left in the Southern Area section, leaving two teams in the way of a trip to Wembley. Few would have been laughing then... this was a trophy we could have won.
The same cannot be said for the FA Cup. Granted, we’ll never win it – even when we were on more of a level playing field in the early 20th century the furthest we ever got was the semi-finals – and, judging by recent seasons, we’re lucky to even reach the third round.
Yet in drawing Histon, the 96th best team in the country, we had a great chance of reaching round two and beyond and drawing a big name, providing much needed income for a club recently admitting they may have to sell in January.
But, sadly, if there’s a banana skin to be negotiated you can bet you're pound we’ll slip up. Town were simply outfought, outclassed and outplayed.
Take away the prospect of a full-house against Leeds in the second round (Histon have them at home if Gary McAllister's men beat Northampton), the money we would have made from the TV rights in meeting Shrewsbury in the JPT and the merchandise and gate-swelling potential of a trip to Wembley and, all in all, it’s been an expensive week for the Robins.
So that’s it then, season over in mid-November. Cheers…
‘But you’ve still got the league,’ I hear you cry? We’re 17th and consistently inconsistent. Play like we did this week and the only thing we’ve got to look forward to is a relegation scrap and losing Simon Cox – 14-goal hero – in the January sales.
How did it all come to this? Two-weeks ago we were singing, manager, Maurice Malpas' praises for turning round a seemingly impossible situation, winning twice in a week and holding high-flying Scunthorpe to a 3-3 draw after losing four on the trot at home.
Now, after two defeats in five days the Scot is repeating phrases we’ve heard before, things like "making things right in training" and "getting the monkey off our backs."
This monkey must be knackered, he’s hopped on and off so many times it’s no wonder he dropped his banana in Cambridgeshire.
Poor performances and individual errors are still costing us and post-match talk is getting cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I expect mistakes, it’s what makes us a League 1 side after all. But I also expect us to learn from them. Defeat on Saturday will have the doom-mongers back out in force.
I hope Malpas and his team do their talking on the pitch, otherwise I think I’ll find myself joining them…
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Great post as usual, we were hopeless at Histon and I couldnt agree more with you about the Cox situation, he's a quality player and as much as he loves swindon for giving him a chance, i'm sure he would jump at the chance to play a higher standard of football. Seems sadly ironic this was written before Malpas left.
Good post Nick. Would imagine MM getting sacked is more about lost revenue than the results. Unless they pick up some points and appoint an interesting manager the crowds will dwindle and Fitton will be forced to sell in January. Hasslebank wants to be manager....
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