The Imps retained their position at the top of SkyBet League Two after an incident packed game at the Energy Check County Ground which had almost everything.
After going down to ten men when Bruno Andrade was dismissed, City took the lead through Jason Shackell, then a goal of the season contender from Shay McCartan stretched that lead before the break but when Jason Shackell was then dismissed following a Michael Doughty penalty for Swindon, it changed the complexity of the game. Try as they might The Imps couldn’t hold onto their lead and Doughty scored with two minutes to go to level things up and the points were shared.
City made one change to the side which narrowly lost out to Everton last weekend, as Shay McCartan returned to the starting line-up, Tom Pett was the man to drop to the substitutes bench.
It was a bright start to the game from both sides but it was The Imps that had the first sight of goal when they won an early corner courtesy of a typical industrious burst down the right from Harry Anderson. Michael O’Connor took the set piece and Jason Shackell met it firmly, only to see his header flash just over the top of the crossbar. However, the home side responded quickly and won a corner of their own which they so nearly profited from. The initial ball in was half cleared by City to James Dunne on the edge of the area and the Robin’s number eight hammered a shot which took a wicked deflection on its way through, finding Keshi Anderson in space and he connected with a spectacular overhead kick but Josh Vickers was equal to it making a wonderful diving stop at his near post.
Proceedings settled down somewhat as both sides fought to get the upper hand, but it was defensive solidity and midfield shape which were the order of the day in either half of the pitch. Swindon won a free kick on the right of the area when Kaiyne Woolery was brought down, Matty Taylor took control and slid the ball to the edge of the box to Dunne who tried to place a shot into the corner only to see it deflect wide of the goal.
O’Connor did his best to open the scoring for City, taking control of the ball some 30 yards from goal before sidestepping two challenges and getting his shot away, Lawrence Vigouroux however was untroubled by the effort as the ball went over the top. Dunne went closer for Swindon within moments of the City effort the Robin’s midfielder, not for the first time, created an opportunity to hit one from distance and he connected with the ball sweetly but yet again Vickers was in fine fettle, diving to his right this time to save.
City’s cause was dented when Bruno Andrade was dismissed following a clash off the ball with the Robins right back Kyle Knoyle, but the visitors weren’t to sit back they were still looking for the opening goal. John Akinde was causing problems for the Swindon defence, dragging them out of position and after he won a free kick in front of the dugouts it gave City the chance and they took it in some style.
O’Connor played the ball towards the back of the area, Akinde leapt for the ball and it fell into the path of JASON SHACKELL and the City number five did the rest, smashing low and hard into the bottom corner despite the best attempts of Vigouroux to keep it out. The game opened right up with chances at both ends, Jak McCourt squeezed a low shot just wide before Anderson carried the ball 30 yards deep inside the Robin’s half to shoot low but Vigouroux was equal to it.
Just before the break the whole ground almost applauded the goal in unison when City scored a second, and how. It was McCARTAN taking the plaudits, Akinde met Vickers’ long ball forward, but Dion Conroy hooked the ball over his head but as it dropped out of the air McCartan struck it first time with his right foot, it swerved, dipped and dropped into the goal from fully 30 yards. It was to be the perfect end to the half for City as the fans and players celebrated a truly wonderful strike.
Swindon Town 0 The Imps 2
The hosts began the second half looking to strike back early pressing forward, McCourt and Taylor stood over a free kick around 25 yards out with the latter curling a shot wide of the goal with Vickers diving to cover his near post. Swindon were pushing higher and higher up the field, forcing City deeper and McCourt was inches away from pulling a goal back as his low skimming effort just crept wide of the far post.
Taylor found space out wide on the left and after a first miskick, he got the chance to cross for a second time, he slid the ball into the box, on the edge of the area was half time substitute Michael Doughty sidefooted hard and low but Vickers was perfectly placed to save and grasp possession on his line.
Swindon were to be given an opportunity to pull one back when Keshi Anderson was brought down in the box, up stepped Doughty and he sent Vickers the wrong way to reduce the arrears for the home side. Following the goal, Shackell was shown a second yellow card as the players made their way for the restart and suddenly the home fans were now sensing an equaliser on the horizon.
The Imps’ defence was now under pressure more than ever, with Scott Wharton coming on for McCartan as the home side did all they could to use the extra space on the field but Akinde did very well to stretch things and drive City forward. O’Connor broke up play perfectly on the edge of The Imps’ area and found Akinde, he ran with the ball 25 yards deep into opposing territory before his run was halted by Keshi Anderson. Despite the numerical disadvantage City weren’t sitting back and Harry Anderson won a throw deep in the Swindon half, Eardley played it to the winger who returned the favour andf the cross came in but Akinde couldn’t quite get his header on target.
As play returned to The Imps’ final third Keshi Anderson tried a curler from the edge of the box but Wharton threw his head in the way of the goalbound shot, McCourt was a fraction away from levelling after the corner his curler looked to be heading for the corner but it went the right side of the post from a City point of view.
Michael Bostwick then timed a tackle to perfection inside the area, taking the ball from the feet of Kyle Woolery as he looked to get in on the right as the home side did all they could to tire the determined City side.
The Imps pressed on and almost created a chance following a corner won by Akinde, the set piece was just a fraction above the leap of Wharton as the well worked set piece was so close to putting the game out of reach of the home side.
Vickers then saved fantastically from Keshi Anderson’s low drive, then Marc Richard almost turned home McCourt’s low effort but it screwed just wide as the home side began to throw caution to the wind as the game went into the final ten minutes.
Woolery was close to nodding the ball in from right wing cross but his header down bounced up and over the bar, then Wharton denied the hosts another chance, getting in the way of another cross into the City dangerzone. The pressure though finally told as Doughty scored his and the Robins’ second of the game with just two minutes remaining on the clock. With six minutes of stoppage time signalled, the home side poured forward looking for the winner and they thought they’d got it when McCourt got a shot through a sea of legs and it beat Vickers but Bostwick was there on the line to clear.
Swindon pushed and pushed but they couldn’t breach the City defence for a third time and the points were shared.
Swindon Town 2 The Imps 2
1 Lawrence VIGOUROUX
2 Kyle KNOYLE
4 Jak McCOURT
8 James DUNNE
9 Marc RICHARDS
10 Keshi ANDERSON
19 Canice CARROLL
22 Kaiyne WOOLERY
26 Dion CONROY
31 Matty TAYLOR
32 Luke WOOLFENDEN
23 Luke McCORMICK
3 Michael DOUGHTY (46’ for Knoyle)
7 Jermaine McGLASHAN
14 Ellis IANDOLO
24 Scott TWINE (74’ for Dunne)
25 Joe ROMANSKI
29 Ali KOIKI (67’ for Taylor)
Booked: Anderson 64’
Goal: Doughty 55’ 88’
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
21 Grant SMITH
2 Kellan GORDON
6 Scott WHARTON (57’ for McCartan)
7 Tom PETT (74’ for Frecklington)
9 Matt RHEAD
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
15 James WILSON (88’ for Akinde)
Booked: Shackell 23’
Red Card: Andrade 34’ Shackell (2nd yellow) 55’
GOAL: Shackell 39’ McCartan 45’
Referee: Ben TONER
Assistants: Adrian Tranter & Bhupinder Gill
4th Official: Michael Webb
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