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Blues Visit Relegated Swindon Aiming to Finally End Goal Drought
Friday, 30th Apr 2021 14:03

Town travel to Swindon for the first of three meaningless end-of-season games aiming to end their goal drought as it moves towards a club record.

The Blues, whose play-off push ground to a halt during April and who dropped to 12th following the midweek games, have now gone 619 minutes, more than six matches and in excess of 10 hours, without a goal.

If they fail to score against the Robins - who have conceded 84 times this season, more than anyone else in League One by eight goals - and then in the opening five minutes at Shrewsbury on Tuesday, they’ll surpass the club record 714 minutes from the 1994/95 Premier League relegation campaign.

Town, who are without a win in six, are still looking for their first away win under Paul Cook having lost five and drawn three on their travels since the change of manager. The Blues last won away at the start of March with Cook watching from the stands and Matt Gill and Bryan Klug in caretaker charge in the dugout.

Swindon were relegated last weekend when they were thrashed 5-0 away by the MK Dons. The Robins have won just once in their last seven - a 3-1 victory over Portsmouth in their last home game - losing the other six.

Overall in League One this season Swindon, who are 23rd in the table, have won eight, drawn one and lost 13 at the County Ground.

Given that Swindon’s fate was confirmed last week, Town manager Cook was asked when he expected from them on Saturday.

“I’ve got no interest in other clubs, I’ve got absolutely no interest in Swindon Town,” he said.

“My job is totally focused now on Ipswich Town, the future, the changes the going forward, the recruitment of players etc.

“I don’t want to be sitting here next year speaking about other teams. I just want to be sitting here next year speaking about the changes we’ve made at the club, the help that we’ve been given by the new ownership and what a much more progressive club we look then.

“At the minute there’s a lot of work ahead for us so other clubs do not interest me in any shape or form.”

What does he expect from the current squad in the remaining three games? “We’ll see what we’ll see. This team, this group of lads cannot hurt me or our supporters anymore.

“The pain is done. That pain is ingrained, so imagine we went away and won 3-0 on Saturday, would that change everyone’s mind? Not a prayer. Absolutely not a prayer, so what will be will be.”

Quizzed on Town’s goal drought and whether it will end at Swindon, Cook joked: “If we do score I’ll run round the pitch with my top off, so you can tell our fans watching on iFollow, get right on the dugout and have a look at the celebrations!

“It’s been too painful for too long now, too painful for too long. We’ve got to make our supporters happy and proud again and that’s not something we’ll do overnight, that’s for sure.”

Cook seems certain to stick with Dai Cornell in goal with the Welshman having been Town’s man of the match in the 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon last week.

At the back, Kane Vincent-Young will be at right-back with Myles Kenlock perhaps coming in at left-back with Stephen Ward appearing unlikely to be offered terms for next season.

Mark McGuinness and Luke Woolfenden could continue at the centre of the defence but with skipper Luke Chambers and Toto Nsiala both available.

In midfield, Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes will probably keep their places with Teddy Bishop ahead of them. Armando Dobra could well start in place of Keanan Bennetts on the right with Gwion Edwards on the left.

Cook said at his press conference that James Norwood is back after his hamstring injury and the former Tranmere man seems likely to return to the lone striker’s role.

Josh Harrop could be among the subs having served his three-match ban for his red card in the away game at AFC Wimbledon.

Swindon caretaker-manager Tommy Wright has been frustrated by the way his side’s form has swung one way and then dramatically the other.

“Football is funny – we beat Portsmouth and then get absolutely hammered against MK, the players can come back again, I’m sure.” he told the Swindon Advertiser. “It’s that consistency of play that’s been a problem for us.

“People say you want players who get a seven out of 10 every week, and you can rely on them. But we’ve got some players who get a seven and then a two! It’s crazy.

“Sometimes you’ll think we’ve cracked it when we win a couple on the bounce, but some of the performances recently have been very, very poor.

“Wimbledon and MK Dons, the performances were gutless, I think would be a good enough word for it.”

Historically, Town have won 27 games between the sides (24 in the league), Swindon 15 (14) with eight (seven) having been draws.

In January at Portman Road, Norwood and Alan Judge were on target for the Blues but two goals from Diallang Jaiyesimi and a stunner from Scott Twine saw Swindon to a 3-2 victory.

Jaiyesimi gave the visitors the lead on 16 before sub Norwood levelled for the Blues in the 62nd minute, but Twine smashed home a brilliant 30-yard strike on 67 to restore the Robins’ lead and Jaiyesimi made it 3-1 with a cross which found its way into the net seven minutes later.

Judge gave the Robins a fright with Town’s second in the 87th minute but the Blues were unable to find a third goal.

Town and Swindon last faced one another at the County Ground in the Blues’ 1999/00 promotion season from what was then the First Division (now Championship) in which the Robins were relegated to the third tier having finished 13 points from safety at the bottom of the table.

In a game shown live on Sky Sports, the Blues won 4-1 with David Johnson and Richard Naylor scoring twice each after Giuliano Grazioli have given the home side the lead.

Town central defender Woolfenden spent 2018/19 on loan at Swindon making 36 starts and scoring two goals.

Robins striker Brett Pitman was with the Blues between June 2015 and July 2017, scoring 15 goals in 42 starts and 28 sub appearances. The 33-year-old moved to the County Ground in September last year having left Portsmouth at the end of last season.

Swindon full-back Zeki Fryers spent a brief spell on loan with the Blues from Crystal Palace towards the end of the 2014/15 season making two starts and one sub appearance.

Ex-Town manager Paul Jewell is the director of football at Swindon, whose chairman is former Norwich striker Lee Power. Jewell was in charge at Portman Road between January 2011 and October 2012.

Saturday’s referee is Kevin Johnson from Weston-super-Mare, who has shown 78 yellow cards and five red in 26 games so far this season.

Johnson’s last Town match was the 1-0 defeat at Lincoln in October in which he controversially awarded the Imps a second-half spot-kick after Toto Nsiala was adjudged to have felled Brennan Johnson, son of former Blue David, which was converted by Jorge Grant.

Blues boss Paul Lambert was sent off for remonstrating with the official after the final whistle, Jon Nolan having already been dismissed for a wild lunge in injury time. Lambert was handed a one-game touchline ban and a £1,000 fine as a result. In addition to the red cards, Teddy Bishop and two Imps were yellow-carded.

Prior to that, Johnson was coincidentally in charge of the 1-1 FA Cup first round draw with the Imps at Portman Road last season in which he booked Downes, Dobra and one of the visitors.

His only Town game prior to that was the 5-0 victory at Bolton in August 2019 in which he booked Edwards and one home player and also awarded the Blues a penalty - for handball - which Norwood converted.

Squad from: Cornell, Holy, Vincent-Young, Chambers, Ward, Nsiala, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Dozzell, Skuse, Nydam, Bishop, Downes, Harrop, Edwards, Bennetts, Sears, Dobra, Norwood, Jackson, Parrott, Hawkins, Drinan.

Photo: Matchday Images

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IpswichT62OldBoy added 14:12 - Apr 30
Would an own goal count?

IpswichT62OldBoy added 14:13 - Apr 30
Either end

barrystedmunds added 14:14 - Apr 30
Surely by now we all know it ain’t gonna happen! We are without doubt the worst team in this league, even accepting that Swindon have been relegated. We have a group of players who have basically given up and have absolutely no pride in their conduct on the pitch whether that’s their fault or the clubs in allowing this contract situation to play out this way. No win and no goals has become a weekly “treat” for us fans so I certainly won’t be raising my expectation level above the “really not bothered” setting!

warksonwater added 14:27 - Apr 30
Tragic that, having been running away with the league in the first few games, we're going to finish the season losing almost as many as we've won, and only just staying in the top half. Could have written exactly the same words at the 'end' of last season!

arc added 14:40 - Apr 30
I really don't get what Cook is achieving by banging on about the current squad: just say some platitude about "they're professionals and I expect a professional performance" and move on. The way he's talking I wouldn't be surprised if they downed tools tomorrow and we lost 7–0.

Marcus added 14:45 - Apr 30
I'll go for 0-0

Barty added 14:47 - Apr 30
Sorry but its got to the point of who gives a f**k . Roll on next season

Europablue added 15:07 - Apr 30
Might as well go for the record now that we are so close.

Karlosfandangal added 15:09 - Apr 30
And I thought the 94/95 team was bad but wish we had them now

muccletonjoe added 15:10 - Apr 30
I'll leave that there

Cheshire_Blue added 15:15 - Apr 30
Well said arc. This man is a waste of space and will take us nowhere. Whether players are staying or going there should be some attempt at motivation but I don't think Mr Cook knows the meaning of the word. The future of ITFC is very bleak in this man's hands.

mib added 15:29 - Apr 30
Totally agree Cheshire Blue/Arc. Cook has done absolutely nothing to convince me he is the man for the job, his results speak for themselves. Should have given the job to Gill.

chepstowblue added 15:43 - Apr 30
A rare day of having little to do for Swindon's back four and a comfortable 2-0 defeat for us.

itfcserbia added 15:44 - Apr 30
arc & co - that would be nice if he said they are professionals etc. etc. But he can't cause they are not, are they? They are not professionals, they are disgraceful amateurs and would be fired from any job anywhere for such lackluster approach. If you ever played football you would know manager does not need to motivate you to just play the f-ing game. Let alone motivate you to play harder when you are close to a result. This lot did nothing when Lambert took over and literally watched us get relegated. Then continued doing nothing and again did nothing when new owners and another new manager took over. Disgrace.

God I want them to not score again this season and set the new record so they enter the history books in a for them proper way.

TB42 added 15:51 - Apr 30
Would be nice to see intent with the last 3 games - exclude all those who are on the late train out and the loaness and give the ones who are staying some airtime. Simple really!!

Linkboy13 added 16:12 - Apr 30
In danger of being doubled by a team that's been relegated or should i say probably. Wonder what's more likely us scoring or Norwood staying fit for the whole match.

emergencylime added 16:38 - Apr 30
If Swindon are already down and we’re not fooling anyone about making Top 6, then a dead rubber is the time to “play the kids” as everyone’s been banging on about.

DerryfromBury added 16:41 - Apr 30
Cheshire Blue and arc.
I really hope you're both wrong, but agree entirely with your sentiments. There's no doubting that the players have been found out, by PC, and not before time. However, surely its his responsibility as first team manager to try his best to motivate the troops. it would demonstrate he at least has not given up without a fight.

DaGremloid added 16:43 - Apr 30
At least the 94/95 team were playing in the Premier League. A sad side of me wants this current s**t show to break the record because they bloody deserve it.

Also, if PC plays one lone striker in this game, bearing in mind we haven't scored for 6 games and Swindon have conceded the most goals in the division, I'm done with him as well.

El_Fenix added 16:52 - Apr 30
James Norwood will score in the 23rd minute, prior to being substituted at half time due to a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

Help added 16:59 - Apr 30
Wont score another goal this season if it is still the same 16 players

TimmyH added 17:18 - Apr 30
We've been doing a lot of 'aiming' these last few months, sadly the ITFC cross heirs have been way way off target...honestly I couldn't careless about this match the damage has already been done - I'll be more interested with the starting line up to see if PC keeps the loanees in and keeps out our youngsters out which wouldn't make sense at all.

braveblue added 17:50 - Apr 30
How did the same players beat 3 of the top 6 before Cook arrived and ended up one point off the play offs? Was there no effort, no pride, no professionals? I really don’t get this attitude from Cook. Never heard anything like it before. He better perform straight away next season!!!!

ArnieM added 18:23 - Apr 30
I very much doubt this team will score again this season , let alone win . This shower of shyte will ENSURE this record is achieved . That’s their parting gift to this club, the Tossas , and it’s about their collective level .

Drifter3012 added 18:33 - Apr 30
I doubt he will but would like to see Hawkins & Norwood play up front tomorrow.
I also don't get the comments about wanting the goal drought to continue.
We might all be fed up of these players but I still live in hope that we can win these last 3 games.

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