Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
SALISBURY 0 SWINDON TOWN 3 - Paolo still wants more
TIME is ticking down before the start of Swindon Town’s competitive season, but manager Paolo Di Canio still wants to see more from his players to convince him they are ready for the big kick-off.
Last night’s 3-0 friendly victory away at Salisbury was a step-up from Monday night’s win at Swindon Supermarine, but there is still room for improvement even if they were not helped by a difficult pitch and problems with the match ball.
New signings Gary Roberts, Troy Archibald-Henville and striker Paul Benson scored the goals to seal a comfortable victory, and Town’s retention of the ball was a marked improvement as they looked to work the ball through the middle of the home defence.
Despite missing a bucket-load of chances and even firing a shot out of the ground, striker James Collins was a constant threat, with his movement and ability both to drop deep and push into the box keeping Salisbury on their toes all night.
Di Canio asked for the light balls used in the first half to be changed at the interval because they were not up to standard, but even allowing for this and the churned up pitch, the Italian still believes some of his players are not ready for the season-opening Capital One Cup tie against Brighton on August 14.
“In the first half we were okay, the first 20 minutes of the second half we were not, even if there was an improvement from Swindon Supermarine,” he said.
“It is obvious we have to be ready to start the season and there is 11 days to go, and I should expect my players to extend their quality, discipline and desire.
“To be honest not many (are ready) at the moment, we have to be honest with ourselves. But when you play with the surface and in the first half the ball was incredible, it is not easy, and this is why I was impressed with my players.
“But in the second half we changed the ball and didn’t perform well , but I know that in five days time there is not an excuse because we play against a top side (Crystal Palace) on our own pitch on a good surface.”
Collins looked to have given Di Canio the perfect start but was flagged offside after turning well to fire the ball into the back of the net after three minutes.
The home side’s best move of the first half soon followed, but Daniel Fitchett’s driven cross across the box was not anticipated by any of his team mates.
From then on almost all of the ball was with Town, and Collins forced a good save from former Swindon keeper Mark Scott as he jumped highest to power a header at goal at the near post.
After that near-miss, Town did take the lead just minutes later, as a good move in midfield saw the visitors move into the home area, and Roberts produced a bit of magic to chip Scott from only 12-yards out.
The next attack should have seen Town double their lead as Tommy Miller worked the ball into the box, and after Scott saved Collins’ initial effort, Andy Williams fired his effort straight at the keeper.
The partnership of Alessandro Cibocchi and Roberts was proving fruitful down the left, and the pair combined well once again to allow Collins to fire over, and although he should probably have hit the target the goal did soon come.
Town won a free-kick two yards outside the box, and when Simon Ferry eventually put the ball in, Archibald-Henville barely left the floor as he powered his header into the back of the net.
The big centre back was in the thick of the action again moments later as his cross hit the bar, and Collins looked surprised to latch onto the rebound as his effort hit the post.
Town had one more golden chance before the end of the first period as Miller swept the ball wide to Roberts, but Collins fired his effort out of the ground.
The second half started much the same way as the first ended, as Williams’ shot was saved by Scott and Collins was just unable to pounce on the rebound.
The first change of the night saw trialist Iain Turner replace the largely redundant Wes Foderingham, and the big Scot was called into action early as he flung himself to his right to deny a flicked header from Dan Fitchett.
Salisbury refused to give up and continued to make a nuisance of themselves when the ball was loose, but it was Town who continued to make chances as Collins once again went close as he latched onto a cross from Ritchie with the outside of his foot.
As is seen so often seen in pre-season friendlies the raft of substitutions saw the game descend into a tighter affair, but Luke Rooney’s introduction saw Town raise the tempo and force a succession of corners.
Aden Flint saw a header blocked before Collins had another effort on goal as his driven shot was well saved by replacement keeper Will Puddy.
But there was still one more goal to come, as Paul Benson rose well at the back post to head home a Rooney corner to complete a good evening’s work for Town.
Meanwhile, Di Canio is still keen to take a closer look at Iain Turner, even though the keeper is set to play for Bristol Rovers today against rivals Bristol City. The Scot did everything required of him last night, as Rovers manager Mark McGhee watched on from the stands.