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Hatters equal record away league victory with second-half super show at Swindon

26 December 2017

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The Hatters produced a second-half super show as Nathan Jones’ team a Boxing Day knockout blow to Swindon – with five goals in 36 minutes after a blank first period making it another memorable afternoon for table-topping Town.

James Collins got the ball rolling with a stunning first against his old club for his 11th of the season in the 48th minute, before Danny Hylton soon added his 15th to put his side in total control.

An own goal from former Luton star Matthew Taylor and further strikes from substitutes Harry Cornick and Elliot Lee saw the Town go nap – or more – for the fifth time this season, equalling the club’s record away victories in the EFL, against Exeter and Colchester, and taking the goals scored tally to 58 in 24 league matches.

An eighth league game unbeaten helped the Hatters maintain their four-point lead over Notts County at the top of the Sky Bet League Two table, and crucially, the gap over fourth-placed Wycombe has now increased to 11 points.

Jones named an unchanged side, with exactly the same starting XI and bench that beat Grimsby 2-0 at Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

Marek Stech was in goal, behind a back four of James Justin, Johnny Mullins, captain Alan Sheehan – who was also returning to his former club – and Dan Potts. In midfield was Glen Rea, Luke Berry, Olly Lee and Andrew Shinnie, with Hylton and Collins in attack.

Swindon had the first sight of goal in the fourth minute, right-winger Paul Mullin firing an angled shot straight at Stech, seconds before Hylton skipped past former Hatter Taylor on the right edge of the area and went down, but referee Gavin Ward waved away appeals for a penalty.

The Town had started well, winning three corners in the first six minutes with Hylton almost getting on the end of an inviting low cross from Olly Lee at the near post.

But Swindon called Stech into action again in the seventh minute, the Czech tipping James Dunne’s 20-yard effort over before Robins skipper Olly Lancashire headed the resulting corner wide.

Hatters were dominating possession, and it was from a Sheehan free-kick on the left in the 12th minute that their first chance came, Rea and Potts both closing in on a great delivery into the six-yard box only for the latter to volley over at full stretch.

It was Swindon keeper Lawrence Vigouroux who was at full stretch in the 16th minute as Collins collected a loose ball just inside his own half and attempted to chip him from 45 yards out. The former Swindon man’s effort was almost perfect, only for the hosts’ goalie to back-pedal and tip it over the cross bar as it was about to drop in.

Stech launched a lightning break in the 24th minute after he caught Rea’s skied clearance inside his six-yard box, then rolled a brilliant ball out down the middle of the pitch for Shinnie, who played Olly Lee down the right, only for the midfielder’s cross looking for Hylton to be turned behind.

Swindon then launched a counter attack of their own from Sheehan’s corner, Kaiyne Woolery bursting down the Robins’ right before crossing for Keshi Anderson, who thankfully – for the Hatters – couldn’t quite make it at the far post.

Rea fancied his chances just after the half-hour, as Justin’s right-wing cross was only half-cleared by the Swindon defence, but the former Brighton midfielder’s 25-yard drive flashed a foot wide of Vigouroux’s right post.

Berry was next to have a go in the 37th minute, with Potts collecting a pass from the midfielder on the left, playing inside the area to Hylton, who couldn’t get his shot away but intelligently laid back for the former Cambridge man, although his curling shot from 22 yards was always rising.

It remained goalless until the break, but it wasn’t long into the second half that the Hatters’ run of scoring first in matches was extended to a 12th game.

Shinnie won possession just over halfway with a perfectly-timed tackle, then Olly Lee spread the ball wide to Collins on the right. The striker controlled in an instant, then cut inside his man before bending a beautiful left-footed shot around Vigouroux and just inside the post.

It was a second goal in as many games for the former Robin, and the Town soon doubled their lead with Hylton rounding off a terrific 55th-minute move down the left involving Rea, Shinnie and Berry, who played Potts in to deliver a perfect cross for the leading scorer to head home from six yards.

Ten minutes later it was three to the dominant Hatters, and the goal owed everything to Rea’s determination and ability to break up play. Hylton lost possession 35 yards from goal, but the holding midfielder won it back with a crunching challenge and the ball rolled straight back to Hylton.

Hylton played Collins in on the right of the area, and the striker zipped a low cross towards Olly Lee, who was steaming into the six-yard box to tap in – only he didn’t get the chance as former Hatter Taylor got there first and steered it into his own net.

Cornick, who had come on as a sub for Shinnie in the aftermath of the third goal, was soon in on the act, picking up a loose ball from a Swindon headed clearance 25 yards from goal and picking his spot with another curling effort into the top corner that left Vigouroux rooted to the spot.

The Hatters were in clinical form, with goalkeeper Stech a virtual spectator for the second half bar a low save from Norris, who also acrobatically volleyed over the bar from 12 yards, and they soon had a fifth with Elliot Lee – on as a 76th-minute sub for Hylton – netting his seventh goal of the season.

The former Barnsley forward slid in to win a pass from Berry on the left, Collins picked up the ball and rolled it back into Lee’s path to bend another beauty around Vigouroux from just inside the area.

Swindon looked for a consolation, but Sheehan slid in to deflect Woolery’s shot behind for a corner with 90 minutes up, then Potts hacked the subsequent corner clear of the far post after Stech had palmed the delivery away.

Even then, the Town could have broken the record for an away win when Berry raced onto a mis-kick from a home defender in the 92nd minute, but blazed his half-volley over the bar from close range.

The job had already been done, and it’s just one defeat in 23 games in all competitions now since Swindon won 3-0 at Kenilworth Road in September, with a 12th league clean sheet and 15 in total to boot. On to Port Vale!


TOWN: Stech, Justin, Mullins, Sheehan ©, Potts, Rea, Berry, O Lee (Mpanzu 84), Shinnie (Cornick 66), Collins, Hylton (E Lee 76). Subs: Gambin, D’Ath, Famewo, Shea (GK)

Goals: Collins 48, Hylton 55, Taylor (OG) 65, Cornick 73, E Lee 84

Yellows: Hylton

SWINDON: Vigouroux, Purkiss, Preston, Lancashire ©, Mullin (Gordon 62), Dunne, Norris, Linganzi, Woolery, Anderson (Iandolo 75), Taylor. Subs: Robertson, Goddard, Charles-Cook, Knoyle, Twine.

Yellows: Dunne, Lancashire

REFEREE: Gavin Ward

ATTENDANCE: 8,526 (1,408 Hatters)

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