SWINDON TOWN 1 STEVENAGE 1 (Town win 3-1 on penalties): Full-time report (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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SWINDON TOWN 1 STEVENAGE 1 (Town win 3-1 on penalties): Full-time report
9:54pm Tuesday 10th December 2013 in Sport
SWINDON Town advanced to the southern section area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a penalty shootout victory over Stevenage this evening.
Nicky Ajose’s first-half goal for Town was cancelled out by Francois Zoko 11 minutes before full-time but Tyrell Belford saved two Boro spot-kicks to send Swindon into the next round.
Mark Cooper chose an attacking line-up for the clash, the Swindon manager shoehorning Ryan Mason, Massimo Luongo, Alex Pritchard, Dany N’Guessan, Ryan Harley and Ajose into the same team from the offset.
Belford started in goal, with Wes Foderingham dropping to the bench as he had done in the Robins’ previous two JPT outings this term, while Jack Barthram was installed at right-back.
Darren Ward hit the crossbar with a header for the home side in the fifth minute and,with the ball looping up in the air, Ajose was pushed in the back with such force that the striker ended up springing forward into the Stevenage goal, breaking the net in the process.
Referee Stephen Martin was unmoved, however, waving away Town’s penalty claims.
Despite not getting the decision, the Robins quickly assumed total control of proceedings, looking rejuvenated for their mini break from competitive action, and midway through the opening period the hosts took the lead.
A tidy short corner routine found its way to Harley 25 yards from goal and the former Exeter man’s low strike was cleverly diverted past Chris Day by Ajose.
Leading by a single goal at the break, Swindon came out after the interval without the swagger that was such a prominent feature of the first 45 minutes.
A stale start to the second period only came to life in the 65th minute. Pritchard collected Ajose’s lay-off 20 yards from goal and saw his thumping drive rebound off the bar and away to safety.
The visitors were not out of the game, however, and in the 76th minute Swindon were warned how fragile their lead was. Lucas Akins, a second-half substitute for Stevenage, somehow ghosted through the middle and was only denied an equaliser by Belford’s outstretched fist.
Akins then appeared to be brought down by Yaser Kasim in the area, only for Stephens to once again shy away from awarding a penalty, but Boro found their way through with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
A corner from the left was Town’s undoing, as Zoko somehow stole in at the near post to squeeze a header past Belford.
Ajose almost sneaked a winner with the final kick of the game for Town, but his delicate curling effort flirted with the outside of Day’s left-hand post before dribbling wide, and the game was destined to be decided by spot-kicks.
With safe passage to the area to be determined from 12 yards, Belford saved from Filipe Morais and Luke Freeman, while Ben Chorley skied his effort to see Swindon through.
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