SWINDON Town rounded off their pre-season with a victory this afternoon as they overcame a young Aston Villa XI 4-1 at the County Ground.
Ben Gladwin grabbed a brace as Louis Thompson and Andy Williams also found the net for the hosts, with Joe Bennett grabbing one back for the visitors, on an afternoon where Town controlled large parts of the contest against a young Villa team.
The Swindon midfield, minus the rested Massimo Luongo who has a tight hamstring, looked calm and assured while full-backs Nathan Thompson and Nathan Byrne were able to get forward to support in attack time and again.
Town again lined up with Southampton’s Jordan Turnbull once again part of a back three, alongside loan signing Josh Lelan and Raphael Branco, and while the trio endured some difficult moments positionally, and often gave the talented Villa youngsters room to manoeuvre in the box, there was plenty of reason for optimism with the League One season now just a week away.
It was Villa who had most of the early possession, with Michael Drennan missing two opportunities either side of Michael Smith heading straight at the Villa keeper, before Nathan Thompson found space on the end of a patient move but could only blast over the top.
Yaser Kasim sliced wide and Gladwin forced a good save from Watkins, both from Nathan Thompson assists, as Town took the game by the scruff of the neck, but couldn’t find a way past Watkins.
However the breakthrough did soon come after Wes Foderingham rushed off his line to clear the danger midway inside the Town half, allowing the ball to be worked forward for Louis Thompson to drill home into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead they deserved at the break.
Town’s dominance continued after the break without any further opportunities being created, with Villa left-back Bennett momentarily troubling Foderingham with two free-kicks, but it was the hosts who found the net.
A through ball slid Smith in and the striker was able to fire across the face of goal, with Watkins only able to palm into the path of Gladwin who rocketed a shot in off the underside of the bar.
The two-goal cushion didn’t last long as Bennett hooked the ball into the back of the Town net following a corner but, as the string of substitutions began, replacement Williams was able to surge into the box and curve the ball away from keeper Watkins to find the back of the net.
Callum Robinson continued to cause problems in the Town box with his quick feet, without ever seriously troubling Foderingham, before Gladwin took aim from 25 yards and drilled a low shot past the keeper to double his own tally to round-off the scoring.
SWINDON TOWN: Foderingham; N Thompson (Da Costa), Turnbull, Branco, Lelan, Byrne; Kasim (Marshall), L Thompson (Rodgers), Gladwin (Randall); Smith (Waldon), Barker (Williams).
Subs not used: Belford, Antonio.