Raphael Branco finally gets his goal as depleted Town rally for a point having gifted the visiting Sky Blues their opener

Raphael stoops to head home the equaliser against Coventry

Raphael stoops to head home the equaliser against Coventry

First published in Sport The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy sports editor

LEARNING from mistakes is character building they say and if that is the case then Swindon Town will be full of characters come the end of the season.

Now, it is not because they are playing badly, far from it. To be honest the majority of the football they are producing this season belongs at a higher level.

However, they are prone to the momentary lapses and it is those missed moments that is costing them dear.

At Gillingham nearly a fortnight ago, a ricocheted clearance saw them concede a soft goal, and against Coventry on Saturday they were left red-faced once more when a costly error saw them go in at the interval 1-0 down.

It would be quite easy to point fingers and make examples of those players, have their names in big bold print above this report.

It is so easy criticise and voice a damning opinion, yet you just can’t help but feel for those players.

Given the situation that Swindon find themselves in with not a lot of money to go out and sign big players, manager Mark Cooper has assembled a squad of talented youngsters.

It is a risky business having young players learn their trade at the coalface in professional first team football and not the reserves, where very few people will see those errors.

But this team’s mistakes, as well as glory, is on show to the several thousand fans who have paid hard-earned money to see them win.

Thankfully, those supporters can see what is happening at Swindon and the expectation this term is to be entertained.

OK, Saturday wasn’t as entertaining as Tuesday’s enthralling Capital One Cup clash with Brighton, but there was a sense of intrigue.

Before the kick-off, everyone was wondering what kind of squad Cooper would have at his disposal given all the injuries sustained on Tuesday.

When the teams were announced, the biggest shock was not who missed out, but who was included.

After fearing that he would be without a whole host of players, Cooper named Michael Smith and Andy Williams in his starting XI, while George Barker was on the bench.

Smith, according to the Town chief in the matchday programme, had fractured his collarbone, while George Barker had dislocated his shoulder and Andy Williams was struggling with a back problem.

However, there was no miracle recovery for Ben Gladwin as he had torn ankle ligaments and skipper Nathan Thompson was serving his one-match ban following his dismissal against Brighton on Tuesday night.

Defender Josh Lelan had also returned to SN1 after he went back to Derby County last weekend before coming back on a month’s loan.

The 19-year-old was handed his second start in Town colours. However, midfielder Jake Reeves, who had signed a short-term deal following his release from Brentford, had to settle for a place on the bench.

Michael Smith was then later withdrawn from the side during the warm-up with Connor Waldon taking his place in the team for only his second professional start.

With Nathan Thompson suspended, Cooper handed the captain’s armband to his in-form Iraq international Yaser Kasim.

The build up to that game was chaotic, a threadbare squad already stretched to the limit was being tested once more.

But it could have be just a calculated risk from the Town chief, after all he knew that the players just needed to get through 90 more minutes before they would have two weeks off ahead of their trip to Bradford.

However, given the build-up, the ‘injuries’ and the exertions of Tuesday night’s high tempo end-to-end cup clash which went into extra time, a draw would have been gladly taken at SN1.

But somehow, there was a sense of disappointment post-match that they had not taken all three.

For the first 40 minutes, both sides could have done without their goalkeepers, neither Wes Foderingham nor Ryan Allsop had a save to make.

And when that first shot came calling it fell to Massimo Luongo after he ran on to a through ball from Louis Thompson.

Sixty seconds later, disaster struck. Lelan under hit a back pass allowing Jim O’Brien to play in Josh McQuoid and he slotted the ball beyond Foderingham.

It was harsh on Town, they had probably shaded the opening session and were heavily punished for one mistake.

Coventry came out in the second half determined to press what was appearing to be a shaky Town defence.

However, it was the hosts who hit the target and found themselves pushing for victory.

A Nathan Byrne corner saw him link up with Louis Thompson and the wing-back managed to get in a cross that saw Raphael Branco stoop down and head home an equaliser on 72 minutes.

It was the second time in less than a fortnight that the Brazilian defender had helped salvage Town a point. He was in the right place at the right time to force a last-minute equaliser at Gillingham, and these timely runs are going to prove invaluable throughout the rest of the campaign.

Town pushed hard for a late winner at the County Ground, but they could not break the Sky Blues again.

They tired as the game went on and Cooper was just glad that he didn’t have anyone else to send to treatment room.

Comments (2)

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7:28am Mon 1 Sep 14

sadgit says...

Some good football played by the town but mostly in our own half again.
Would somebody please explain to me how Brad Smith has become an international player as I have yet to see him live up to that expectation.
Thumbs up!
Some good football played by the town but mostly in our own half again. Would somebody please explain to me how Brad Smith has become an international player as I have yet to see him live up to that expectation. Thumbs up! sadgit
  • Score: -6

8:48am Mon 1 Sep 14

South Stand says...

I doubt that the Adver reporter was even there. Either that, or they don't know their front from their back, regarding Lelan's pass.
I doubt that the Adver reporter was even there. Either that, or they don't know their front from their back, regarding Lelan's pass. South Stand
  • Score: 0

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