Swindon Town 1 Torquay United 0
An outstanding display of goalkeeping by Martin Rice went unrewarded at the County Ground last night as League One Swindon Town finally broke the resistance of Torquay United with Andy Williams’ 82nd-minute winner.
Rice saved a 56th-minute penalty by the Robins’ man of the match Alex Pritchard, but that was only one highlight of a stunning all-round performance.
Alan Knill’s Gulls fought hard to stay in the Capital One Cup, and they nearly snatched the lead in a forceful spell just before half-time.
But Swindon had just too much for them, especially after United lost substitute Elliot Benyon moments after he joined the fray – he was laid out cold in a heading duel and needed several minutes of treatment before he could be carried off.
Billy Bodin was quickly into the action against his old club, sending in a low cross which Wes Foderingham did well to smother and then not quite controlling a chipped through-ball by Kevin Nicholson which would have put him clear.
Town were capable of producing moments of class – in the 17th minute Williams set Pritchard clear with a brilliant turn and pass from halfway, the winger eventually shooting wide.
And Krystian Pearce escaped with only a warning from referee Andy D‘Urso after taking out Ryan Mason unceremoniously.
In the 22nd minute Rice got his timing and angle just right to parry a goalbound shot by Pritchard, Aaron Downes completing the clearance.
Pearce was even luckier in the 26th minute, failing to find Rice with a hesitant back pass and then barging Williams over as the home striker tried to pounce on the mistake. Neither Mr D‘Urso nor his linesman picked that one up.
In the 40th minute Callum Ball nearly broke the deadlock when he forced Foderingham to a full-length save from 20 yards.
Karl Hawley and Downes both had other efforts blocked in United’s best spell of the game so far. It was an encouraging way for United to end the first 45 minutes.
Rice made the second of two fine saves within the opening ten minutes of the second half when a passing mistake by Downes helped to set Pritchard away on Swindon’s left, Lee Mansell was adjudged to have clipped the winger from behind, as he cut inside the area.
United protested long and hard, but eventually Pritchard stepped up to take the penalty and Rice dived to his left to parry the spot-kick.
Benyon’s night lasted only a minute or two, for he was flattened in an aerial challenge, suffered a blow to the head and, after six minutes of attention, had to be carried off.
The clock had reached 80 minutes when winger Courtney Cameron replaced Benyon, Bodin joining Ball up front.
But only two minutes later Swindon finally outpaced United’s defence, Storey’s cross-shot from the left was just too good for Rice and Williams touched the ball in from point-blank range by the far post.
Niall Thompson, on for Dale Tonge, nearly handed Swindon a second goal when his dreadful pass infield was cut out by Williams and again Rice had to come to the rescue.
The Benyon injury prompted eight minutes of stoppage time, but United never really looked like turning that spell into an equaliser.
Swindon Town (4-3-3): Foderingham; Barthram, Hall, Ward, Byrne; Mason (Luongo 46), Kasim, L Thompson; Reis (Storey 46), Williams, Pritchard (Smith 87). Substitutes (not used): Bedwell (gk), N Thompson, McEveley, Archibald-Henville.
Goal: Williams 83.
Torquay United (4-4-2): Rice; Tonge (N Thompson 88), Pearce, Downes, Nicholson; Chapell, Mansell, Harding, Bodin; Hawley (Benyon 69/Cameron 80), Ball. Substitutes (not used): C Thompson (gk), Lathrope, Cruise, Sullivan.
Booking: N Thompson.
Referee: Andy D‘Urso (Essex).