Swindon under 18’s served up a treat for the paying fans at the County Ground on Halloween night with Sholing not scaring the reds as often as they would have liked. Writes Benjamin Wills.
Swindon had a number of key players missing for this FA youth cup 1st round tie with skipper Aaron Oakley and Louis Thompson both named on the senior side’s bench for their 2-3 loss in the Capital One cup the previous night and Jake Simpson, son of Fitzroy was in the Jamaican development squad. Despite this though there were still some familiar faces in the town line up such as right back Luke Murden, striker Conor Waldon and captain for the night Alex Ferguson.
This Halloween fixture got off to a terrifying start for visiting Sholing after just one minute a pass back to goalkeeper Kieran Cottingtan was sliced horribly by the Sholing number one and went out for a corner which came to nothing. Sholing had the first clear cut chance of the match when Luke Murden dallied on the ball and was tackled by Coby Wilson who fired straight at Swindon ‘keeper Josh Helm from 20 yards.
Swindon had the ball in the back of the net seconds later though when a cross from the right was slid in by Mark Francis, disallowed for offside though. Just two minutes later however Swindon did legitimately take the lead, Aaron Ferris crossed in from the left and Conor Waldon scored a powerful header which flew past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
Sholing drew level 10 minutes later when number 8 Kieran Palmer was played in by Michael Lamb and he blasted a shot past Helm into the Swindon net. The away fans’ joy was short-lived though as Town pulled ahead again just 4 minutes after. A cross by Murden from the right hit Portuguese defender Curtis Da Costa before landing at the feet of an unmarked Waldon for his second of night; Sholing’s calls for offside were ignored.
The first and only booking of the night occurred on 28 minutes and it was a coming together of the two goal scorers Waldon and Palmer, Palmer was the guilty party and was booked for a strong challenge on Swindon striker Waldon which left him hobbling for a short period.
Swindon had three free kicks in succession, the one from that challenge, one that flew wide from left back Matthew Jones from 30 yards and another again taken by Jones but this time from the right that was fumbled to Waldon who should have done better with the rebound.
5 minutes before the break Swindon extended their lead and looked to be out of sight when a Ferris corner was headed across goal by Murden and was then finished off with a header from Matthew Jones for 3-1 which was the half time score.
Swindon weren’t content with the two goal lead though and they wanted to continue Sholing’s nightmare with more goals, it should’ve been 4-1 after 55 minutes when yet another Murden cross was headed into the path of Ferris who had two bites of the cherry but both his shots were blocked before it was hoofed up field by the Sholing defence. Swindon continued to waste good chances and none more so when Mark Francis used blistering pace on the counter attack but fired a tame shot wide from the edge of the area.
Town skipper Alex Ferguson missed a sitter with twenty minutes left when he fired straight at Cottingtan after beating the offside trap from Waldon’s intelligent pass. Ferguson didn’t have to wait much longer for a goal though as just a minute later with Murden again crossing in and finding Ferguson around the six yard box and he slid it under ‘keeper Cottingtan and into the Sholing net.
The robins thought they should’ve had a penalty when Ferguson seemed to be tripped but the ref said no crime was committed.
As Sholing tired and Swindon seemed to get stronger the goals flowed in the last 15 minutes. Ferris supplied the next goal on what was a very impressive display for the speedy and skilful left winger, from the right of the box he played in substitute Callum McCormack (no relation to Alan) who fired a shot from the edge of the box low to the goalkeeper’s right hand corner.
Swindon had another penalty shout turned down when another sub Lee Marshall was blocked off the ball before going down but again the ref said no.
The rout was completed in the last minute when Waldon and Francis combined and then played in Marshall who slotted in from close range to make it a super six for Swindon.
Manager Paul Bodin will no doubt be very happy with how his young side performed despite the downpour at the County Ground in this largely one-sided encounter under the floodlights and will be hoping Town can have another successful youth cup campaign which last year ended with a 4-1 loss vs. moneybags Man City in round 4.
Town now face either Cirencester Town or Mangotsfield in the next round.