Swindon draw a blank in attempt to extend lead at the top

After last week’s JPT final defeat at Wembley, Swindon were back in league action yesterday looking to increase the gap at the top of League Two.

However in a dire affair at the County Ground they had to share the spoils with Bristol Rovers after failing to find the cutting edge.

The best chance of the a rather uneventful match fell to Swindon’s Alan Connell whose shot hit the underside of the crossbar before bouncing away from goal after a superb Matt Ritchie cross. Di Canio’s men started brightly and could have been in front in the first few minutes if Jonathan Smith had made a better connection from just inside the box. Rovers tried to keep tight towards wingers Ritchie and Holmes so they could not pose the threat they have so often done this season. Matt Ritchie had a few crunching tackles come his way and after one, he had to receive treatment for a lengthy period due to a reckless challenge on the half-way line.

Rovers really didn’t test Wes Foderingham in the Robins’ net and mainly set out to frustrate the hosts and catch them on counter-attack with the likes of Chris Zebroski and Mustapha Carayol.  However Swindon dominated the first half and really should have gone in-front after numerous chances went begging.

Bristol Rovers’ danger man Carayol had to be replaced at the interval after his hamstring started to tighten up, being replaced by Michael Smith. The second half was more of an even affair with Swindon’s chances falling to Ronan Murray and Paul Benson, a long ball over the top to Murray saw Bevan come slightly off his line, Murray then tried to flick the ball over the keepers had but in the end it was an easy save for the former Torquay stopper. Holmes was full of energy and ran at the defence every time he had the chance, he got to the by-line and curled in a right-footed cross towards Benson whom tried a diving header towards to the near post but it just went wide.

Bristol Rovers never really look like scoring themselves but did look a threat on the counter attack as they went forward in search of a winner and the Pirates will probably be the happier of the two sides after this goal-less affair but the point certainly doesn’t harm our title ambitions. We remain two points clear of Torquay but importantly have two games in hand, starting this week away at struggling Barnet.

Other results in League Two were also beneficial to the Robins’ title hopes yesterday as 10-men Shrewsbury could only draw at home to Aldershot while Crawley were held to a 0-0 draw away at Burton Albion.  This means if we can take all three points on Tuesday it will leave us eight points clear of 4th and one step closer to sealing promotion back to League One.