Table-topping Swindon ready for derby showdown

Swindon Town have prepared perfectly for Saturdays crunch derby clash with Oxford United after cruising to a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Burton Albion. The hosts proved too good for Albion with goals from Ipswich loanee Ronan Murray and striker Paul Benson’s 100th career goal. Both strikes came in the second half which Swindon dominated, to help increase their chances of making an immediate return to league 1.

Towns 10th win in a row has now put an 8 point gap between them and fourth placed Southend United. They have a far superior goal difference to all opposing teams and a game in hand on the likes of Cheltenham and Southend it looks even more likely they will get promoted whether it be as Champions or  through one of the other two automatic promotion spots.

They now have to prepare for Saturday’s early kick off against arch rivals Oxford who have somewhat of an injury crisis. Influential midfielder Peter Leven, who got both assists for the U’s at the county ground earlier in the season when Oxford ran out 1-2 winners, has been ruled out with a shoulder injury. Adam Chapman has been recalled after a loan spell at Conference side Newport County and could come straight into the side on Saturday. Captain Jake Wright is highly doubtful due to an ongoing back problem, Mehdi Kerrouche is unavailable due to being on loan from Swindon, Simon Heslop and Jon-Paul Pittman are expected to both miss out again while striker Tom Craddock is out with a knee injury which has kept him out of action for most of the season.

Swindon, who boast one of the biggest squads in the league, have Aden Flint out with a groin injury and a slight doubt over Jonathan Smith of whom came off with a head injury in the first half against Burton on Tuesday evening but have plenty of cover including the likes of former Namibia international Oliver Risser and January signing Lee Cox from Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

There is more of an extra spice to this game due to events in the January transfer window where Swindon had two bids knocked back for James Constable and the 3rd accepted, only for Constable, nicknamed ‘Beano’ to reject the offer and instead remain at the Kassam. Some Swindon fans however weren’t happy when they found out about the bids for Constable, who controversially kissed the Oxford badge when scoring one of his double in August. As well as this, the ticket allocation of which Swindon were given didn’t make them any fonder of their close rivals, while Swindon gave Oxford 3,300, the U’s only gave Swindon 1,200 which has left some fans frustrated at such a small allocation for the game.

Paolo Di Canio certainly won’t have the best memories of Oxford coming to the County Ground in August after being sent to the stands, the first of many this season, which includes being banned after running onto the pitch to celebrate his side’s injury time winner away to Northampton on New Year’s Eve. The fiery Italian has already given all Town fans something to be excited about by saying in his press conference about this weekend’s game. ‘We will get revenge for the way they celebrated in the County Ground, that’s not a threat it’s a promise.’ This turns the heat up just a little bit more for what is expected to be a memorable game at the Kassam Stadium this Saturday.

By Swindon Town blogger Peter Huggins