A dramatic late winner from Alfie Potter earned United a win over their closest rivals tonight in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Sub Potter's calm finish gave the U's a 1-0 win celebrated in great style by their adoring fans.
As expected the game started out at a million miles an hour in a fantastic atmosphere. The new look United front three of Jon-Paul Pittman, James Constable and Tommy Craddock looked lively and full of movement while Arsenal loanee Daniel Boateng settled quickly into a midfield holding role on his full debut, but it was the visitors Giles Coke who had the first chance, blazing wide on seven minutes as he burst into the box unattended.
United came straight back and earned the first corner of the match before enjoying a long spell of territorial dominance as they pressed forward for much of the opening twenty minutes. The away side however created the better openings, with Darren Ward wasting the best of them after 26 minutes as he planted a free header over the bar from a right wing free kick and Adam Rooney blasting another shot over the top four minutes later.
The League One side had carved out plenty of half chances but United had kept them at bay and had Adam Chapman’s 40th minute free kick dipped a little more as it flew at goal from the left edge of the box then United could even have taken the lead before the half time whistle blew on an enthralling 45 minutes of cup football.
The second half was just as frenetic in its opening stages with neither side given the luxury of a yard of space or a moment’s breathing space on the ball. If either side did get a sight at goal there was a body in front of the ball within a split second: both Wright AND Chapman hurling themselves in the way of a drive after 65 minutes to perfectly illustrate the commitment and effort being put in.
The clever running of Potter, on for the solid but more defensive minded Boateng after 53 minutes, gave United an added dimension going forward towards their own fans, in fine voice all evening and constantly calling their team on towards them. For their part Swindon looked more solid at the back than in the previous two games and for a side that has made so many changes and bought in so many players over the last eighteen months they looked very well drilled and organised.
Foderingham may have made his Manager reconsider labelling him 'the worst professional I have ever worked with' on Sunday as he made a good save to tip the excellent Jake Forster-Caskey's rising 75th minute free kick over the bar, and there were loud appeals for a penalty as Constable went tumbling inside the box a minute later, but still the two sets of fans waited for that one moment to define this fiercest of Johnstone's Paint Trophy games. It was to come with three minutes left.
No quarter asked or given, and in the middle of all the rivalry and bravado never let it be overlooked that United were once again holding their own against higher league opposition.
The final fifteen minutes looked to be heading for a penalty shoot out, but then with three minutes left Constable (who else) powered past his man on the left and stormed at goal. Foderingham had no defence to protect him and when Constable rolled the ball to his right Potter was there to slot home and simultaneously make it 1-0 and lift the roof off the Kassam Stadium.
United go into the draw on Saturday, but that was almost immaterial. Beating your local rivals is a great habit to get into and United have now done it on the last four occasions: every time the teams have met this century.
Another great night of cup football and another night for the fans to savour.
Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Chapman,Boateng (Potter 53), Forster-Caskey, Pittman , Constable, Craddock (McGinty 90)
50/Fifty winning number: 240790Wins £1043.50
Report by Chris Williams