30/08/2011: Swindon 1-3 Saints

Saints eased into the third round of the Carling Cup with a comfortable 3-1 win at Swindon. Despite not playing at anywhere near the same level of intensity as previous matches the result was never in doubt. Nigel Adkins employed a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork in midfield. Lee Holmes played as a right winger, with Adam Lallana on the opposite flank. Guly Do Prado started just behind lone striker Jonathan Forte. The first few minutes of the contest were fairly uneventful. Saints had the first major chance of the match after nine minutes when Forte's cross was dummied by Guly, allowing Lallana a shot that went narrowly wide. Saints dominated possession for much of the first half and took the lead on 17 minutes when Holmes put in a terrific cross, which was headed in by Guly. Nigel Adkins's men grew in confidence and gradually started playing more expansively. It was 2-0 on 30 minutes when Forte's low shot from the edge of the area crept past Swindon keeper Phil Smith. The hosts briefly rallied just before the break, and had a good opportunity when Matt Richie's fizzing cross was narrowly missed by Aden Flint.

Swindon were much improved in the second half and made things difficult for the visitors. Paolo Di Canio's men were more disciplined, and their pressing made it hard for us to play our passing game. There was little in the way of goal mouth action for much of the second period, although Saints had a good shout for a penalty when Lallana was brought down in the box. Swindon eventually gave themselves a lifeline when substitute Medhi Kerrouche curled in a free kick. Moments later the Robins had another chance which was well saved by Bialkowski. Saints stepped up their game in the closing stages however, and made it 3-1 in stoppage time when Rickie Lambert rounded the keeper and calmly finished to seal the tie. After the match Town manager Di Canio clashed with striker Leon Clarke in a hilarious incident.

Despite never really getting out of second gear, Saints were in complete control all night. It's another sign of how far the team has come. I've lost count of the number of cup ties we have lost to lower league opposition in the past. This time however Saints never looked like losing, even though we weren't at our best. Lee Holmes was my pick for man of the match. The former Derby winger has spent much of his three year spell at the club injured, but rarely let's the side down on the few occasions he does get on the pitch. The chances of an extended run in this competition look good, with a home tie against either Charlton or Preston up next in round three.

Attendance: 7452

Match Ratings:

Bialkowski: 6. Not tested for most of the match, but did make a crucial save when the score was at 2-1. Distribution could have been better.

Richardson: 7. Linked up well with Holmes, and made some good forward runs.

Martin: 6. Didn't have much to do defensively. Most passes went either backwards to Bialkowski or sideways to Seaborne.

Seaborne: 6. Fairly quiet evening for the much improved former Exeter man.

Harding: 6. Passing was erratic at first, but improved as the game went on.

Schneiderlin: 7. Range of passing was top class in the first half, although he dropped off slightly in the second

Cork: 7. Another solid performance. Kept things ticking in midfield.

Holmes: 7. Created more goal scoring opportunities than any other player on the pitch, cutting in from the right with his favoured left foot.

Guly: 7. A goal and some good one touch play.

Lallana: 7. Quiet by his extremely high standards, but still showed some exciting moments.

Forte: 6. Did well to score, but struggled for the rest of the game.

Substitutes:

Lambert: Great finish to wrap up the tie

Hammond: Brought on in stoppage time to see the game out

Hoskins: Youngster made his debut in the final 30 seconds of the match. Won the ball back from Swindon immediately after coming on and went on a nice little run.