Football: Gorman off the hook

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The Independent Online
Arsenal. . . . . .1

Smith 4

Swindon Town. . . 1

Bodin pen 29

Attendance: 31,634

AFTER 240 seconds, Swindon conceded their 86th League goal of the season and looked as if they would be lucky to end the game without getting comfortably into the nineties. That they did not can only be attributed to Arsenal's sloppy attitude and some tactical tinkering at half- time by the Swindon manager, John Gorman.

There was an ominous ease in the way Arsenal took the lead. Tony Adams played a long pass down the right touchline where Lee Dixon controlled the ball neatly and held it up for Ray Parlour to arrive. His deep cross from the byline to the far post was met by Alan Smith rising unchallenged about six inches out.

Arsenal, though, were lulled by the early goal into believing that the match could be won at a canter. Soon after, Ian Wright wasted two penalty-area opportunities by taking three touches when he would normally require but one.

Just as the home side were sensing a cakewalk, Swindon equalised with their first serious foray into the Arsenal penalty area. John Moncur pushed the ball past Paul Davis on the left side of the area and charged. The Arsenal midfielder hopelessly mistimed his tackle and a penalty was justly given. Paul Bodin thrashed the kick straight and it went in off the underside of the bar.

The referee, Brian Hill, a late stand-in yesterday, was the man who sent off Eric Cantona for stamping two weeks ago at the County Ground. The victim of that incident was Moncur, who won the penalty yesterday.

'The penalty lifted them,' George Graham said, 'and maybe we were a bit sloppy for the last 20 minutes of the half. But they got lots of people behind the ball and made it difficult.'

At half-time, Gorman moved to close down Parlour and Dixon's right-flank supply, switching Nicky Summerbee to track Parlour and forcing Arsenal to try their luck on the left where, with Nigel Winterburn absent and Martin Keown significantly less creative in his place, there was less threat. The one time Parlour got behind his marker he was quickly closed down by Brian Kilcline.

Swindon battled hard and could even have snatched the game on the break when Keown intervened as Jan Age Fjortoft was poised to volley from eight yards. 'Now we just have to look to win our last six games,' Gorman said. With only four wins in the last 36, this looks less an uphill struggle than a vertical one. They might, though, avoid conceding 100 goals, a feat last achieved in the top flight by Ipswich (121) in 1964.