Football: Campbell strolls to treble: Swindon's offside trap fails

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The Independent Online
Swindon Town. . .0

Arsenal. . . . . 4

AFTER beating Southampton last week, Swindon Town had a happier Christmas than they expected. The little celebration was shortlived as Arsenal yesterday devastated them with three goals from Kevin Campbell and a stunning fourth by Ian Wright.

Equally it could be said that Swindon destroyed what slight chance they had by persistently attempting to trap Campbell and Wright in an offside snare that John Gorman, the Swindon manager, insisted was not planned.

The part-frosted pitch was difficult enough without Swindon adding to the burdens by imposing chaos on themselves in the penalty area and

employing their absurd offside tactics. Wright and Campbell loved the challenge. Any forward pass in their direction was guaranteed to find a square defence looking appealingly for the linesman to give them the security their tactics did not deserve.

One of the cutest of the defence-teasing, low, forward passes from inside Arsenal's own half, after 19 minutes, was struck by Ray Parlour. Campbell may have been slightly offside as Wright smoothly took the pass in his stride, penetrated the penalty area and squared the ball across the goalmouth for Campbell to deflect in. The pattern was set.

Swindon's reaction was naively negative. Their defence determinedly remained flat and without leadership, allowing Wright, Campbell and McGoldrick a field day. When Nigel Winterburn disrupted another of Swindon's all too typically hesitant and slow attacks, he took Parlour's cue, instigating an immediate counter that brought Campbell into possession and Swindon more panic. Campbell powerfully strode down the middle, forced Digby out to meet him but neatly avoided contact, slotting the ball into an undefended goal.

To Swindon's temporary relief, Arsenal chose to begin the second half with a mind to consolidate rather than accumulate. While Wright remained as alert and quick as ever, the service he received dried slightly but Campbell was in no mood to allow the generosity towards Swindon to last for long.

In the 66th minute Arsenal simply went on a Christmas stroll that completed his hat- trick. Wright caressed a little pass to Parlour, who advanced down the right side, cutting in and seeing Wright and Campbell free in front of goal. He did the noble thing and offered Campbell a soft third.

Wright was not to be completely upstaged. With a minute left, he was alone 35 yards out when he saw the goalkeeper a couple of yards off the line and chose to dip a shot that baffled Digby not so much with its power but the nerve of its conception and ended high in the top of the net.

Swindon (4-4-2): Digby; Fenwick, Whitbread, Taylor, Horlock; Maskell, Ling, Moncur, Bodin (Summerbee, 62); Mutch (Fjortoft, 69), Scott. Substitute not used: Hammond (gk).

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams (Keown, 81), Bould, Winterburn; Jensen, Parlour (Merson, 81), Hillier, McGoldrick; Wright, Campbell. Substitute not used: Miller (gk).

Referee: S J Lodge (Barnsley).