It shows just how far our team has come in such a short space of time when we come away from The County Ground, home of League 2 champions-elect Swindon Town, disappointed to not have something to show for our efforts.
And whilst before the game few members of the 1238 travelling Greens expected something from the game, we left Swindon feeling a mixture of pride and deflation. For large parts of the game our tough defence had easily coped with everything the home side could throw at it, and it was only on very rare occasions that we allowed Swindon to look like a team topping the table. Just as it was starting to look as if Argyle would grab an unlikely point, Alan Connell popped up with six minutes left to leave Swindon on the very edge of promotion and dash the hopes of the Green Army.
Swindon dominated most of the first half, with the Robins hitting the crossbar with only six minutes on the clock through De Vita. As ominous as the chance looked, it was the closest the home side came in the first half. The way the Argyle defence went about their work was incredible as they kept Swindon at arms length, and despite an aerial barrage through corners and free kicks towards the end of the half, the Greens held strong. They even started to mould their own chances as the half came to a close, as the Argyle wingers finally saw the ball and were allowed to get a few crosses in that ultimatly came to nothing against the toughest defence in the league.
At half time, Argyle fans were more than happy with proceedings. If the score stayed the same until the final whistle, Argyle would have gained a valuable – and very unlikely – point.
In the second half though, amazingly, it was the Pilgrims that did most of the pressing. Maxime Blanchard went close with a header, whilst Luke Young was creating plenty for Swindon to think about down the right flank. It was in defence though, that Swindons position in the league was evident, even when Argyle looked most dangerous the Robins seemed to repel their efforts.
As the half progressed, the frustration of the home faithful and manager Paolo Di Canio rose to high levels and every mistake, misplaced pass and decision that went against them was met with large groans and jeers. Di Canio himself seemed to lose it with the referee momentarily as his team failed to break down Argyle’s resolute defence, and he could have been sent to the stands as a result.
Sadly though, the fun of frustrating Swindon was not to last as Alan Connell stroked home from close range. It was hard to say whether or not the breakthrough was deserved as Argyle had offered little going forward, but their defensive display up until that point was nothing short of superb.
Despite the loss however, few moaned and groaned as the final whistle went. News that Macclesfield had failed to win had found the majority of the away attendance; a result that meant Argyle were seven points from the trap door with nine points to play for. We can now secure safety with victory in any of our remaining three games, and failing that, one defeat each in their final fixtures for Macclesfield and Hereford would also see us safe. We may have lost today, but strangely it seems one step closer to safety. The game against the league leaders is out the way with minimal impact made on our cushion between ourselves and the relegation zone. It now seems more of a case of when, not if, Argyle will secure their football league status.
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