FOREST Green boss David Hockaday insists Paolo Di Canio’s swashbuckling Swindon Town are a benchmark for success, writes Richard Joyce.
Rovers suffered the first major defeat of their pre-season schedule against Swindon, who displayed the sort of quality that saw them storm the Football League’s basement division last season.
Hockaday, who graced Swindon as a player, said: “They showed us the level to which we would love to aspire to.
“We are really grateful for Swindon Town coming here and in the first half they made it very difficult for us.
“For them to score from three set plays is poor so defensively, we didn’t adjust to different people coming on, but it has been a great night with over 1,500 people here and you can see what we are all about.
“Swindon have enjoyed themselves and maybe we’ll get them back next year which would be nice. It’s just a great learning curve for us and it shows the players what we need to do to get where they want to get to.”
Hockaday wants his side to learn from the 4-0 defeat.
He added: “We didn’t play as well as we can and a lot of that was down to Swindon but we didn’t move the ball around and we didn’t acquit ourselves.
“We look as though we need to get mentally quicker which has got a lot to do with the physical conditioning but we lacked a bravery on the ball and didn’t move it quick enough.”
The visitors made a prominent start and it didn’t take long for them to take the lead.
Troy Archibald-Henville steered a clever header into the back of the Rovers net after Gary Roberts had knocked a Jay McEveley cross back in to the box.
The League One newcomers then doubled their lead from the penalty spot after Paul Green had upended Andy Williams in the box. Former Celtic man Caddis stepped up confidently and placed his penalty past Rovers keeper Matt Bulman.
Bulman was then on hand to pull off a superb save to deny Matt Ritchie from firing in a sublime volley from just outside the box, whilst Ben Wright’s free kick fell just wide.
Omar Koroma headed a James Rowe corner just over the bar for Rovers after the break but the visitors found the net once again as Roberts finished Luke Rooney’s far post cross excellently.
Swindon added a final goal to crown a dominant performance as the game entered its final stages when Simon Ferry struck after a well worked corner took Rovers by surprise.
Forest Green: Bulman, Hodgkiss, Stokes (Asafu-Adjaye 46), Oshodi, Green (Turley 88), Bangura (Collins 79), Forbes (Rowe 62), Vieira (Norwood 60), Klukowski, Styche (Koroma 46), Wright (Taylor 46) Swindon: Foderingham (Bedwell 89), Caddis (Thompson 85), Archibald-Henville (Devera 57), McCormack (Flint 81), McEveley (Smith 89), Ritchie (Rooney 56), Miller (Rissa 85), Navarro (Ferry 65), Roberts (De Vita 67), Williams (Storey 81), Benson (Collins 46) Attendance: 1517 Referee: Brendan Malone Star Man: Al Bangura.