Despite being cheered on by 2,600 away fans at Stadium MK, Michael Flynn’s Town side looked second best against Milton Keynes and far from the side we all enjoyed watching throughout August and September.
One cog from the Swindon Town machine was missing on Saturday as Dan Kemp wasn’t able to face his parent club, and as expected, his absence was painfully obvious.
With the squad having no natural replacement for Kemp, it was left to Charlie Austin, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, and Tyrese Shade to lead the line in a 4-3-3 formation.
Our makeshift frontline looked dangerous at times but never gave the home side’s defence too many problems, with Hepburn-Murphy having several decent chances, but the striker struggled to make the impact he’d liked with a rare starting opportunity.
Town’s stand-out player from the day was again Murphy Mahoney, who made several superb saves to keep Town within a fighting chance of earning something from the 90 minutes.
Since his arrival, the Queens Park Rangers loanee has enjoyed an impressive start to his time at SN1, single-handedly keeping Town in many games.
Like Steven Benda and Sol Brynn, it’s clear the 21-year-old has a big future in the game, with Gareth Ainsworth shown the door at QPR this weekend, there is some nervousness that the new man at Loftus Road may want to take a look at him over January.
But with the West London club having a firm number one in Asmir Begovic and Jordan Archer as their number two, they have much more pressing concerns in other areas of the side to worry about come January, I’m confident he’ll stick around for the whole season and will continue to play a huge role.
Thankfully, we have a reliable backup for Mahoney in Lewis Ward should anything happen to our number one, but that can’t be said for other areas of the pitch at Town.
Again, on Saturday, the squad size was the number one talking point for fans, as when 2:00pm and fans saw the opinions from the bench Michael Flynn had to rely on, people were seriously asking what was going on at the football club, and our lack of ability to name a squad of eighteen professional players.
This is nothing against any of the players on the bench Saturday, but having three current youth players, alongside two defenders, Harrison Minturn and Brooklyn Genesini, no midfield cover isn’t good enough, the only option who could make a difference in attack, being striker Jordan Young.
The young loanee was introduced early in the second half and did make the impact we needed with another brilliant strike from outside the box to end his recent goal drought.
Having a small squad is something Michael Flynn said at the beginning of the season he prefers, but when games come thick and fast, alongside injuries, you need at least 25 professionals.
Town currently has twenty-one at the club, five of those were injured heading into Saturday, leaving the manager with sixteen players, it’s beyond laughable.
With the manager all but conceding to local media we won’t see any new faces before January, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to keep Town competitive with other sides aiming for a playoff spot in League Two as injuries and suspensions will come around more frequently.
I don’t know if it’s a personal choice by the management (I would find hard to believe) or a lack of funds from the owner, whatever is holding us back needs to be explained to the fans as if it is the latter reason, that goes against what the former CEO said in the summer, that we would have a squad ready to challenge for promotion.
Our first eleven, when all fit, could beat anyone in League Two, but if the new CEO and the owner don’t follow through with new faces, we are looking at another season of disappointment at the County Ground.