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Match Previews

2015/16 preview - introducing Swindon Town FC

15 June 2015

Meet Millwall's League One opponents


Founded: 1879


Stadium: County Ground


Nickname: The Robins


Position: Fourth in League One


Manager: Swindon manager Mark Cooper willbe hoping to go one better this season after leading Swindon to the Play-Off Final in May, only to suffer heartbreak at the hands of Preston, who inflicted a 4-0 defeat on The Robins.

Cooper, a professional player at clubs such as Fulham, Birmingham City and Leyton Orient, got his first shot at management at the start of the 2003/4 season as player/assistant manager at Tamworth. Following the departure of Darren Gee, he was then appointed manager and guided the club to the FA Cup Third Round in successive seasons. 

Cooper and Tamworth parted company in January 2007, but five months later he took charge at Kettering Town.

His first season at the helm proved very successful as the club won the Conference North title with a margin of 17 points and he then led Kettering to the FA Cup Fourth Round, matching a club record of the furthest Town had ever been in the competition.

Having guided Kettering to third place in the Blue Square Premier, Cooper was offered the managerial position at Peterborough United in November 2009, leaving his former club in a very healthy position.

However his move to Posh didn't really work out and by February 2010 Cooper had parted company with the club.

By June of that year, however, he was back in the saddle taking the reins as the new manager of Darlington and the club went onto win the FA trophy at Wembley in his first season.

A stuttering start to the 2010/11 campaign saw Cooper become an early season casualty and he was sacked in October, then taking charge of Kettering for a second time - a spell that lasted precisely one match before he quit.

Cooper was appointed manager at AFC Telford United in January 2013 after Andy Sinton was sacked. After just five games in charge – one draw and four defeats – he was appointed assistant to Swindon Town manager Kevin MacDonald.

When MacDonald resigned the following July, Cooper made the step up and having come within touching distance of the Championship last season, will be eager to put that bitter Play-Off Final defeat behind him over the coming campaign.

Key player: Former Charlton striker Michael Smith really found his shooting boots during the 2014/15 season, finishing second only to Andy Williams in the scoring charts with an excellent return of 18 goals in his first full season with the club.

The powerful frontman learned his trade with Wallsend Boys before signing for Darlington, where he spent three years and scored six goals in 23 appearances.

Charlton liked what they saw and offered the young striker a contract, but Smith's opportunities were limited at The Valley and he was shipped out on loan to Accrington, Colchester, Newport and AFC Wimbledon before signing for Swindon in January 2014 after just one League Cup and one sub appearance in SE7.

He bagged a brace on his debut against Shrewsbury at the County Ground and has gone from strength to strength, forming a superb partnership with Andy Williams last season and proving a mainstay in the Swindon team, where he made 47 appearances including the Play-Off Final defeat by Preston North End.

With top-scorer Williams released during the close season, this could prove to be a very big season ahead indeed for the 23-year-old as he looks set to spearhead the Robins attack once more.

Top scorer: Andy Williams (22 goals)

Head-to-head: It is only in the last five meetings that Millwall have really managed to edge ahead in the 'wins' race, boasting 36 successes to Swindon's 29 from 92 previous encounters in all. The remaining 27 games have been drawn.

The Lions are unbeaten in their last five matches with The Robins, beating Danny Wilson's side 3-2 on the final day of the 2009/10 season in a cracker at The Den - a performance that stood Kenny Jackett's side in good stead as just three weeks later The Lions secured promotion to the Championship at Town's expense with that memorable 1-0 Play-Off Final win at Wembley.

Last time we met: Lions skipper Paul Robinson lived up to his name of 'Captain Fantastic' by scoring the only goal of a tense League One Play-Off Final as Millwall sealed their return to the Championship.

The Lions had failed in their previous five Play-Off campaigns and just 12 months previously had suffered Wembley heartbreak as a late Martyn Woolford goal sealed a 3-2 win for Scunthorpe United in the final.

It was to be tears of joy and not pain, however, on this occasion as Robinson, a 90th minute sub in that Scunthorpe game, scored the decisive goal from close range following Danny Schofield's first-half corner to finally win promotion through the Play-Offs.

Millwall's victory was described as "a victory for the power of persistence" against a below-par Swindon side.

Danny Wilson's outfit had one glorious opportunity to equalise after 72 minutes though. There was a collective holding of breath in the Millwall end when a slip by Robinson set scoring sensation Charlie Austin clean through on goal. Divine intervention in the shape of a bobble on the Wembley turf, came to Millwall's rescue and the striker looked on in horror as his scuffed shot hit a bobble at the critical time and flew wide of the target.

That was the moment Millwall knew it was to be their day at long last and the final whistle was greeted by an explosion of sound that rocked the stadium to its very foundations.

Millwall: Forde, Robinson, Craig (Frampton,44mins), Barron, Ward, Schofield, Batt (Hackett, 70mins), Abdou, Trotter, Harris, Morison. Subs not used: Sullivan, Fuseini, Laird, Alexander, Obika.
Scorer: Robinson (39mins)

Swindon Town: Lucas, Cuthbert, Sheehan (Darby, 67mins), Amankwaah, Jean-Francois Lescinel, Douglas, McGovern (O'Brien, 73mins) Ward, Ferry, Paynter (Pericard, 81mins), Austin. Subs not used: Smith, Morrison, Easton, Timlin.

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