A CALAMITOUS decision to let play continue while goalscorer Andy Williams stood in an offside positioned robbed Swindon Town of a valuable League Two point against Northampton Town at the Energy Check County Ground tonight.

Williams, stood inside Swindon’s penalty area, benefitted from a long-ball flick-on from the right while Dion Conroy and Mathieu Baudry stood on the edge of the 18-yard box.

He proceeded to score a well-taken goal that pinged off the underside of Luke McCormick’s crossbar.

But protests from Swindon’s technical area matched the feeling of more than 7,000 fans in attendance as the goal was allowed to stand.

Town failed to recover from Williams’ 68th minute strike – and consequently suffered their first league loss of the season.

Swindon manager Richie Wellens made one change to his side that started the 1-1 draw at Exeter City at the weekend, with Keshi Anderson ruled out to be replaced by Adam May.

Atmosphere and noise generated by Town fans was incomparable to the decibel levels reached at St James Park on Saturday.

It was flat, silent almost. There was an occasional cheer for a well-worked pass, but that was abruptly interrupted by one of several final-third errors.

A wicked deflection off Rob Hunt’s cross that fell fortuitously into Lloyd Isgrove’s path generated the game’s only chance in the opening 15 minutes – even that was skied over visiting goalkeeper David Cornell’s crossbar.

The most memorable touch of the game’s first quarter went to a young chap sat in the bottom tier of the Don Rogers Stand, he headed Conroy’s booted clearance along the row of Town fans sat beside him.

Referee Craig Hicks came under heavy criticism from Wellens and home supporters after Cobblers midfielder Chris Lines won a free-kick 25 yards out.

Hicks’ whistle was blown in favour of Northampton minutes after Jordan Lyden fell to the ground when advancing towards the edge of Northampton’s penalty area.

Given the game’s tempo, the free-kick unsurprisingly resulted in nothing but a tame cross that fell in Luke McCormick’s arms.

With the visitors putting 10 men – sometimes 11 – behind the ball, Swindon’s options when advancing forward were restricted as the game ticked past the half-hour mark.

This was proven when Kaiyne Woolery confidently poached the ball from Shaun McWilliams’ feet before offloading to Michael Doughty in midfield.

By the time Doughty turned to cross, Keith Curle’s side had adequate cover in place to deal with sole striker Eoin Doyle.

Meanwhile, Zeki Fryers wasn’t enjoying the rub of the green. Several mis-placed passes in the first 30 minutes culminated with a weak cross from the left after cleverly escaping his marker – good movement, but no end product.

The half’s subdued tempo continued, until – with two minutes to go – Jordan Turnbull emerged with the ball after a ball-watching May surrendered possession cheaply on the edge of the centre circle.

Turnbull advanced, but his shot was dragged hopelessly wide.

Swindon did have another chance before the half ended, but Fryers’ final-third pass amid Woolery’s run into the Cobblers box was overhit – Cornell coming out of his six-yard box to claim.

Not a half that will go down in history.

No changes were made at half-time, although Wellens did switch the roles of Doughty and May – the former placed into a defensive midfield role while May took up a more attacking role.

Swindon won two corners in the half’s opening six minutes – the first a result of Woolery’s excellent movement into the penalty area after escaping his marker.

Unfortunately for Wellens, both of Doughty’s kicks resulted in nothing.

Cornell was tested for the first time on 55 minutes when an inviting cross from Isgrove on the left was flicked on by Lyden but Cornell’s reach tipped the ball over.

Doyle was Swindon’s next frontman to be denied, his volleyed effort from Woolery’s cross cannoned off Nicky Adams’ leg for a corner that was cleared.

Fryers then limped off the field on the hour mark and was replaced by Tyler Reid.

Cries for a goal in the Town End were then turned down after Conroy headed Doughty’s corner from the right into Cornell’s gloves.

But the game’s real moment of controversy occurred seconds later down the other end.

After a long ball forward was flicked on, Williams ran from the byline towards McCormick and scored by firing his shot off the underside of the crossbar.

Swindon skipper Conroy was infuriated by the linesman’s call not to raise a flag for offside – and a delay of several minutes took place as a result.

The hosts’ angered energy was bottled, perhaps too much.

May received the ball at his feet 12 yards out in front of goal and ballooned his shot into the Town End roof.

Substitute Reid and Woolery also fluffed chances as the game entered its final five minutes.

Northampton were more than happy to see out the game’s concluding minutes – including six of them in injury time.

Swindon’s final chance to snatch a point came from a free-kick on the edge of the box with just second left on the clock, but Doughty could only watch his effort edge over Cornell’s crossbar.

Swindon Town: Luke McCormick, Zeki Fryers (Tyler Reid, 60’), Mathieu Baudry, Lloyd Isgrove, Adam May (Scott Twine, 73’), Michael Doughty, Kaiyne Woolery, Jordan Lyden, Rob Hunt, Dion Conroy, Eoin Doyle.

Northampton Town: David Cornell, Charlie Goode, Jordan Turnbull, Sam Hoskins, Ryan Watson, Nicky Adams, Andy Williams (Vadaine Oliver, 83’), Chris Lines, Scott Wharton (Billy Waters, 70’), Shaun McWilliams, Joe Bunney.