McMahon's patience rewarded

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

Swindon Town 2 Bristol City 0

Steve McMahon received his first tangible reward as a manager on Saturday when he was presented with the Division Two award for September. He ranked it as highly as anything he had received in his playing career with Everton, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester City. "But," he added, "I'd rather be manager of the month at the other end of the season."

You would not bet against it. At 34, McMahon is still turning out for a Swindon side currently top of the table and intent on reversing the slide which has seen them relegated from the Premier and First Divisions in successive seasons.

After the previous weekend's 4-3 defeat at Wrexham and the more predictable midweek Cup loss at Blackburn, it was important for normal service to be resumed at the County Ground. Despite suffering from flu, McMahon coaxed, cajoled and controlled to ensure that it was.

"To go up in any shape or form is what we want," he said. The shape which Swindon present at the moment is a pleasing and effective one, although the way they lost impetus after missing a penalty in the 33rd minute indicated that their form may still be variable.

When Wayne O'Sullivan hooked in a cross which was headed back by the former Bristol City favourite Wayne Allison after 12 minutes, the way seemed clear for the leaders to run rampant against a side struggling near the foot of the table.

But after Paul Bodin had had his spot-kick saved, City revived significantly. Victory was only assured in the last minute, when Allison exploited the gap in City's defence created by the replacement of their sweeper, Scott Patterson, by a forward, Paul Agostino.

"We didn't play particularly well," McMahon said. "But it was a big improvement on the previous week." Swindon's player-manager feels he is a less impulsive character now than when he took over last November - an event he marked by being sent off in his first match.

"It was all tension," he said. "I thought I could change everything at one fell swoop." Patience, a word not readily associated with McMahon, is now his watchword. All explosions, we are now assured, are of the controlled variety.

Goals: O'Sullivan (12) 1-0; Allison (89) 2-0.

Swindon Town (3-5-2) Digby; Seagraves, Culverhouse, Taylor; Robinson, O'Sullivan, McMahon, Horlock, Bodin; Allison, Finney. Substitutes not used: Gooden, Hooper, Murray.

Bristol City (5-3-2) Dykstra; Owers, Bryant, Patterson (Agostino, 87), Dryden, Edwards; Starbuck, Kuhl, Barnard; Bent, Nugent. Substitutes not used: Hansen, Kite (gk).

Referee: R Gifford (Mid Glamorgan).

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