All in all I think a 1-1 draw with Swindon is a decent result - in the circumstances. The Rovers performance was great and we looked as good if not better than our local counterparts who are on an 14 game unbeaten run. It makes you wonder, if they can do it, why can't we? A few decent signings in January could aid our quest to push up the league, but we still have a few league games to get through before that transfer window reopens. In the meantime, battling performances like yesterday will see us pick up points, of that I am sure.
The atmosphere was superb from the start yesterday. Granted most of the chanting was about the insane Paolo Di Canio, but it's a start. Recent home games have seen quite a poisonous atmosphere, but on the pitch we've drawn away from home against league leaders Southend and thrashed AFC Totton in the FA Cup since our defeat against Barnet, so hopefully things have turned a corner on and off the pitch. To their credit Swindon fans came in large numbers, but they offered very little vocal support. Hopefully our support at The County Ground will be much better - it can't be any worse!
On the pitch and Swindon should have been down to 10 men after just 25 seconds, when Chris Zebroski superbly found strike partner Matt Harrold in the box and as the striker teared down on goal, Aden Flint fouled him from behind. The referee bottled it and didn't award a penalty, much to the relief of Swindon's supporters, management and players.
We created plenty of opportunities in the first half but we just couldn't get the final touch right to convert them. Swindon harboured small threats at times in the first half and unfortunately took the lead towards the end of the first 45. Right-back and captain Paul Caddis slid through the Gas midfield before firing left-footed in to the bottom corner from the edge of the box. The away support decided to open their throats and sing, but this subsided 60 seconds later. It was completely undeserved and epitomised the misfortune we've endured throughout the season so far, but we had to stay positive and there was still plenty of time to get back in it.
After half-tme we kept trying although we lacked the flair we possessed in the first half. Mustapha Carayol tried his luck from distance but failed to trouble Wes Foderingham in the Swindon goal, much to the frustration of the home faithful. But, just when you got the feeling it was going to be Town's day, Rovers were awarded a free-kick on the right, which Craig Stanley was preparing to take. Flint had had the better of Harrold all game, but Matty pulled him to the front post as the kick was about to be delivered. As Stanley whipped in the cross, Danny Woodards made a run at the back stick to power home a header and rescue a point. Cue mass celebrations on the pitch, touchline and terraces.
It was no less than Rovers deserved and although 3 points would have been nice, it could have been a lot worse. It was a great team performance and it should boost the players confidence even further as they begin preparations for next weekend's trip to Jo Kuffour's Gillingham. Kuffour is ineligible due to a clause in the loan deal that took him to Priestfield, but the Gills will remain dangerous opponents.
Here's to another decent week on the training ground and, hopefully, 3 points as we head in to Christmas.