Football: Taylor in turmoil

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The Independent Online
Swindon Town 3

Bodin 15, Scott 28, Beauchamp 60

Wolves 2

Kelly 13, 41

Attendance: 14,036

LIKE Tony Blair, Wolves' manager Graham Taylor knows that nothing but promotion to the Premiership will matter this time. He has what the leader of the Labour Party calls the 'infrastructure' - a fine stadium and a rich owner - but the question this defeat poses, after five straight wins, is: has he got the team? It was his back four, not Clause IV, which had Taylor grieving yesterday, as they gave away what he called 'three bad goals', after seeing his attack gain an early lead.

Swindon's win, deservedly sealed by the outstanding player of the game, Joey Beauchamp, confirmed their recovery after their year of living miserably in the Premiership. They played the neater, more controlled football for most of this match. Wolves may have felt aggrieved that Swindon's first score was allowed to stand but in the end they really had only their own defence to blame.

The four goals which the sides shared in the first half highlighted the weaknesses which the managers will be eager to correct. Swindon have an admirable midfield when they are going forward, with Beauchamp and Martin Ling getting up quickly to support the forwards. But it does not look so hot when they have to defend, or pick up attacking runs.

Swindon's midfield weakness was first exposed by Darren Ferguson, who was able to run unchallenged from one penalty area to the other, before sending in David Kelly, whose left-foot shot found the top corner. But within two minutes, Wolves' disjointed back line conceded an equaliser. They could not clear a long cross, which then dropped handily for the unmarked Paul Bodin and the Welsh left-back was able to chip Mike Stowell for the equaliser. Paul Blades thought he had hooked the ball clear, but the linesman gave the goal.

They were still bickering when Luc Nijholt's long ball found Jan Fjortoft, who turned the ball back for Keith Scott to tuck home his right-footed shot. Swindon buckled down to defend their lead, but just before half-time, Steve Bull nodded James Smith's cross back across goal for Kelly to claim his second goal of the half.

Wolves looked more purposeful after the interval but on the hour, their defensive aberrations surfaced again. After failing to clear a persistent Swindon attack, Beauchamp was left unmarked as he hit a fine volley inside Stowell's far post.

It was Fjortoft who nearly provided the game's sixth goal, beating Stowell with a skilful chip, but knocking the crossbar.

Taylor was left to contemplate a road back to power which looks just a little longer this morning.

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