Town’s F.A Cup journey may have ended last night at the hands of the Premier League Champions but it will live long in the memory.
Two superb away performances against Crewe Alexandra and Walsall resulted in Town welcoming Manchester City to Wiltshire in the most high-profile game seen in a decade at the County Ground.
With Covid currently rife amongst players and staff at the Etihad Stadium, rumours said City would field a U18 side against Town, but 7:00 pm came around and those rumours were blown out the water as Pep Guardiola picked as strong a side he could, with nine first-team players included.
The first half went as many thought it would with the visitors’ class shining through as Town were chasing shadows for most of the half, it was hard not to be impressed by the incredible quality on show from the Citizens and we were lucky to be only 2-0 down with goals from Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus.
But the second half was a different story, not because the visitors’ standards slipped but Ben Garner’s side came back into the game and despite falling behind further thanks to Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick, a nice through ball from substitute Jonny Williams saw Harry McKirdy bearing down on goal and firing past Zack Steffen in the City goal.
It was a fantastic moment and one that was deserved for their second-half performance, it’s been mentioned Town has managed to do something over half a dozen Premier League sides have failed to do this season and score past the current League leaders.
Again, Jordan Lyden was tireless in midfield and should now become a big part of Garner’s first team moving forward, Kaine Kesler Hayden had a night to remember as he put in a superb performance, and made Gabriel Jesus look distinctly average for most of the 90 minutes.
Simpson could’ve possibly won a penalty for Town but Darren England waved away the calls from the Town faithful, Lewis Ward also earn his moment between the sticks as he saved Jesus’ pen in front of the traveling fans.
Despite his penalty save Town’s backup keeper did have some hairy moments throughout the evening, but when he’s told to play it out from the back at every opportunity it’s hard to criticise the 24-year-old stopper too much.
It’ll be interesting to see if our new arrival between the sticks Manny Idem will be given a chance to shine over January or Garner sticks with Ward, with Idem not named on the bench last night I presume we won’t be seeing him for a week or so, but when he’s available, I’d like to see him given a chance to show what he’s about.
Swindon now has to put all the excitement of last night behind them as they travel to Mansfield Town on Tuesday in a huge game for our season, after losing the last two League Two games on the road it’s vital we reclaim our away form quickly, and not let the good work from last year become a thing of the past.