Football: Watson destroys Swindon's faith: Hammond is injured

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The Independent Online
Swindon Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Sheffield Wednesday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

THAT HAS to be that for Swindon, who with this defeat remain 11 points adrift from a position of safety and would be in need of miracles elsewhere even if they were to win all their remaining five Premiership matches.

Their first season in the first grade has been a pain just about all the way for John Gorman and his team and last night was no different. They lost their defender, Adrian Whitbread, with a serious knee injury and later their goalkeeper, Nicky Hammond, who was taken to hospital for stitches to a gash in his neck.

To that double injury blow was added insult when Gordon Watson, the Sheffield Wednesday substitute whose boot had caught Hammond as they went for the ball, pilfered the winning goal in the 69th minute.

It was a scruffy one to concede, redolent of so many that have preceded it in a campaign of defensive failings for Swindon. Paul Heald, on lone from Leyton Orient, had been the replacement goalkeeper for just two minutes when he was forced to retrieve the ball from his net. Immediately put to the test, he was caught cold when Nigel Worthington's free-kick found him advancing half-heartedly and Mark Bright was allowed a free header which Watson bundled home.

Gorman conceded that 'Everyone will now consider we are down'. He had praise for his players' efforts and vowed that they will improve 'so that we are better next season, wherever we are'.

Although not apportioning blame, he was right to be aggrieved at the manner of this latest fall. When you are down in the depths fortune can play a cruel hand but Swindon also have to look hard at themselves. Nothing short of maximum points would suffice and when they needed a cool head in front of the posts so many of them came up short.

Lawrie Sanchez twice froze when handily positioned. In the first half, when the influential John Moncur put him clear of the offside trap, he shot hurriedly when he could have gone on. At least he had made contact; set up 11 minutes after half-time, he completely missed his kick.

Jan Fjortoft had also been wasteful while Brian Kilcline was unfortunate to find Kevin Pressman reacting brilliantly to his volley. It had taken Wednesday a time to warm to the task as if, fearing a Swindon onslaught, they were reluctant to venture forward. When they did, Chris Bart-Williams grazed the crossbar from 30 yards after 35 minutes and before the damaging collision Watson had forced a fine stop from Hammond.

Swindon Town (4-4-2): Hammond (Heald, 66); Whitbread (Horlock, 43), Kilcline, Taylor, Bodin; Summerbee, Nijholt, Moncur, Sanchez; Scott, Fjortoft. Substitute not used: McAvennie.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nilsson, Walker, Pearce, Worthington; Williams, Palmer, Jones, Sheridan; Bright (Coleman, 83), Bart-Williams, (Watson, 55). Substitute not used: Woods (gk).

Referee: A Gunn (Sussex).