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Paolo admits his side were second best
SWINDON manager Paolo Di Canio believes it would have been an injustice if they had taken three points from their final league game of the season at Bradford.
The two sides drew 0-0 at Valley Parade in a game in which Town were second best for the majority of the 90 minutes.
The home side closed down Town’s creative players at every opportunity, and ensured the likes of Matt Ritchie and John Bostock had no time or space to feed striker Paul Benson.
Highly-rated Nahki Wells gave centre-back Jay McEveley a torrid afternoon with his intelligent running as he got his body in the right positions, while Aden Flint was forced to contend with giant striker James Hanson.
Town’s stand-out performer was keeper Wes Foderingham, who made a string of fine saves to keep yet another clean sheet, and also dealt well with Bradford’s aerial bombardment.
Samsung Win a Pro Contract winner Chris Smith made his Town debut in place of the unfortunate Nathan Thompson who hobbled off injured early on, and even coped well out of position at left back in what was his first professional game.
But while Di Canio admitted his side probably deserved to lose, he did not blame his players who went into the game having already secured the League Two title.
“It is normal that a lot of people would be switched off a little bit, even though they tried to be professional , but it is very tough when you have been celebrating for three or four days and you are thinking about the future,” he said.
“It is not that my players are bad people, but it was difficult to play at our level because we are already first, and we lost a bit of concentration.
“At the end of the day in the second half we had two or three moments where we matched the opposition, but it would not have been fair if we had won this game.
“I think 2-0 would have been fair enough because they had a few chances, but it is okay because we have another clean sheet and I can be happy.”
Bradford started by far the quicker, but after McEveley picked off a dangerous looking Bradford pass, the defender looked to find Lee Holmes with a through ball of his own, but the winger could not quite reach the ball.
The first two chances fell to Bradford though, as David Syers and Ricky Ravenhill had efforts well blocked on the edge of the area.
Rob Kozluk was yellow carded for a crunching tackle which eventually ended Nathan Thompson’s afternoon, and from the free kick which followed Ritchie fired a shot over the bar after the ball came back to him after his initial effort was cleared.
Defender Flint put in a big tackle inside his own half, and the ball flew high in the air before dropping just over the Bradford bar for an unlikely effort on goal.
Foderingham was put under pressure by Hanson but managed to punch clear before Kyel Reid fired an effort high and wide, and in first half stoppage time Wells forced the Town keeper into a superb save with his legs to keep the scores level.
Bradford started the second half as they did the first, and Foderingham was soon called into action again as he spread himself well to halt Syers after the midfielder went clean through.
The Bantams had the ball in the net soon after, but the goal was ruled out after a foul by Hanson on Foderingham, who was left sprawling on the turf.
Flint and Smith both had to throw their bodies in front of shots to keep it at 0-0, and on a rare break substitute Miles Storey wriggled free down the right, but Holmes handled when the youngster’s cross was laid back to him by Benson.
Town had to scramble a corner clear after it was blocked on the line, and Risser’s long clearance was picked up by Luke Rooney, but the winger dragged his effort wide.
Town finished the game the stronger, and Paul Caddis went close as keeper Ian McLaughlin tipped his free kick over the bar.
The Swindon players and fans appealed for a penalty as time ticked down, for what looked like a handball by Atkinson, but referee Graham Salisbury said no and the game ended goalless.