REPORT: Stevenage 0 Swindon Town 4

Boro woeful as Di Canio’s men outclass them in all departments

Stevenage 0 Swindon Town 4

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AT the end there was Di Canio.

On the pitch after his team had left for the warmer climate of the away dressing room, the Swindon Town manager saluted his club’s fans who continued to sing his name long after the final whistle had gone.

But while Di Canio was the lone Robin on the pitch, in a huddle in the centre circle were Stevenage’s players and staff no doubt trying to convince themselves that this sorry defeat was a one-off.

If Swindon play this way for the rest of the season –the best any team has played against Boro for some time – they will go up. But such consistency is rare.

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After all, it was Boro who thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 last season in September only for the Owls to win promotion the following spring and Stevenage to miss out.

By half-time here Boro, who had gone into the game on the back of two very good wins, were behind by three goals, but Swindon had also seen a penalty saved by Steve Arnold.

Swindon had two decent chances before they did take the lead when Matt Ritchie headed Miles Storey’s cross to Raffaele De Vita allowing the striker, with his back to goal, to take a touch before turning to fire past Arnold.

Swindon controlled the first 30 minutes as though they had superstars in their ranks; they made good use of the space out wide and they passed the ball with confidence on a wet surface.

A second goal looked likely and it came on the half-hour mark from Ritchie; Arnold punched clear a cross but in doing so he clattered into a defender and before he had steadied himself the ball was blasted back past him by Ritchie.

Boro did not help themselves and they had Arnold to thank moments later when Stevenage gave away a penalty only for the goalkeeper to save Tommy Miller’s spot kick.

If last week’s win at MK Dons was Boro’s best performance of the season so far, this was turning into their worst and with seven minutes to go in the half Swindon made it 3-0, Miles Storey in far too much room to head home.

Boro did get a shot in at goal before the break, but Filipe Morais’ deflected drive was well saved by Wesley Foderingham.

If Gary Smith had made three changes at the break it would have been understandable because not one of his men played to the improving standard they’ve reached recently.

Instead, Stevenage made the one change with Oliver Risser, on loan from Swindon, making way for Lucas Akins, meaning a switch for Morais who moved inside behind Marcus Haber.

Too often in the first half Boro had given the ball away, and when Grant did that in his own half on 55 minutes Swindon eventually won a corner from which Storey forced Arnold into a good save.

Just after the hour-mark Swindon scored a fourth. Adam Rooney had just come off the bench for Storey, and he scored with what may have been his second touch.

Grant has a habit of dwelling on the ball and when he did so on this occasion he was closed down, forcing him to pass to Tansey who himself was under pressure. Swindon won the ball, and John Bostock played in Rooney who did the rest.

Stevenage made two changes with Patrick Agyemang, returning from injury, and Dani Lopez coming on for Haber and Morais, but between them they rarely got a touch of the ball as Swindon saw the game out comfortably.

It says much that when Bostock went off injured with a few minutes to go, the visitors remained in charge.

It was sensational stuff from Swindon, a rare game where everything went the way it was planned. But for all of the Robins’ exceptional play, it was the opposite from Stevenage who were poor throughout the team.

Smith’s men will now have to regroup ahead of the trip to Rotherham United in the FA Cup next weekend.

Stevenage: Arnold 4, Gray 4, Charles 5, Roberts 5, N’Gala 4, Grant 3, Risser 3 (Akins 46, 4), Tansey 5, Morais 4 (Lopez 68, 4) Freeman 3, Haber 4 (Agyemang 65, 4). Subs not used: Day, Hills, Shroot, Rogers.

Swindon: Foderingham 5, Miller 6, Flint 6, Devera 6, Ritchie 7 (Roberts 55, 5), McCormack 7, Benson 7 (Ferry, 79), Storey 8 (Rooney 60, 8), Ward 7, De Vita 8, Bostick 7. Subs not used: Bedwell, McEveley, Collins, Thompson.

Ref: D Deadman

Att: 4518 (926)