IF SWINDON Town enjoy this sort of good luck in League One next season, they’ll have a decent chance of winning the division.
The Robins only avoided defeat at the Fortress Stadium in Bromley thanks to their hosts’ bizarre profligacy in front of goal in the second half this afternoon, as the Conference South side hit a post, hit the bar and missed at least four sitters en route to claiming a 1-1 draw.
It was good fortune in the extreme for Swindon who, after an accomplished if slow-tempo and low-key first-half display forgot how to play in the second period.
Whether or not there was an element of fatigue in their performance due to a monstrous journey round the M25 in 27-degree heat, which lead to a delayed kick-off in Kent, is open to debate. But with the new campaign just two short weeks away, the second-half display was certainly a worry.
It never looked like being that sort of afternoon as Massimo Luongo, Louis Thompson and Yaser Kasim controlled midfield in the opening 45 minutes, while new signing Josh Lelan looked composed and dynamic in the Town backline.
However, after the break Swindon just didn’t get going. Though Michael Smith cancelled out Sam Higgins’s opener for Bromley, they rarely threatened from the hour mark onwards and only a succession of terrible misses and good saves from Wes Foderingham prevented the home side from running away with a big victory.
In the opening period, Adam Birchall came closest to breaking the deadlock for the hosts midway through the first half. Birchall wriggled free in the box to fire low at Foderingham and the Town keeper did well to push the ball onto a post and gleefully collect the rebound.
Swindon, who looked much more composed at the back following the addition of dynamic Derby County midfielder Lelan on loan, passed the ball around midfield with consummate ease. However, their final pass was often sloppy and overhit, meaning clear-cut chances were at a premium before half-time.
Smith forced a good save from Seb Brown, the Bromley stopper leaping to his left to push Smith’s venomous 20-yard drive away to safety, while Kasim also spurned a good opportunity to fire the Robins in front ahead of the break.
It took Bromley less than five minutes of the second half to take the lead. Nathan Thompson uncharacteristically failed to clear under pressure inside his own six-yard box and the hosts seized on his hesitation, with Sam Higgins firing low beyond Foderingham.
Town responded in kind six minutes later. Luongo played in Kasim down the left and the Iraqi checked his cross to pick out Smith and the striker obliged with the simplest of tap-ins.
Bromley weren’t about to let the wind get sucked from their sails, however, and Swindon were given massive reprieves in the 57th and 59th minutes when first Higgins sliced horribly wide with all the time in the world to pick his spot and then Pierre Joseph-Dubois beat Foderingham to a free-kick, only to nod against the crossbar.
Moses Ademola should have restored the Ravens’ advantage in the 71st minute but, after Town were again cut apart down their left, the substitute shot into the crowd under no pressure whatsoever 12 yards out.
One-time Swindon striker Jamie Slabber was next to waste a golden chance for the home side, volleying wide when one on one with Foderingham after Ademola’s tidy throughball, before Ademola curled wide from 18 yards, Slabber was denied by Foderingham and Ali Fuseini, under pressure from Ben Gladwin, somehow failed to beat the Swindon stopper from all of two yards at the back post.
‘Which one is the non-league side?’ came a comment from the crowd. It was apt. Swindon were being dominated by the Conference South outfit, who seemed to be finding their way around the Robins’ back three with remarkable ease. Worrying ease. Frustrating ease for Nathan Thompson, who was substituted after a clattering challenge in the middle of the park which left Bromley fans leering for a red card.
Joe Anderson saw his free-kick saved by Foderingham and Damian Scannell somehow shanked a volley over the top at the back post, as Bromley outdid themselves time and time again with innovative new ways of not going in front until they ran out of minutes.