Fejiri Okenabirhie’s first-half brace saw Rovers secure their first three points of 2021.
Rovers got off to a blistering start and were a goal to the good in under five minutes. They went on to mostly control the first half and doubled their lead in added time when the no.9 nodded home from close range.
The second half wasn’t as comfortable for Darren Moore’s men who were under pressure for long periods though Ellery Balcombe wasn’t really tested by the home side. They did get a consolation with 15 minutes to go when Scott Twine’s shot from the edge of the box was hit through a sea of bodies and took a touch off Hallam Hope and beyond Balcombe.
Rovers had plenty of defending to do in the final stages, but they showed real resilience to hold on and take all three points.
Darren Moore made just one change to the side that defeated Blackburn Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup seven days earlier with Joe Wright dropping out of the squad and Jason Lokilo making his first start since November 10.
Rovers got off to a quick start with Okenabirhie scoring the side’s fastest goal of the 2020/21 season when he slipped the ball beneath Travers in under five minutes.
Darren Moore’s men moved the ball quickly from front to back and Reece James slid the ball first time into the path of the no.9 and setting him up for a one-on-one. The striker kept his composure and slotted to take his tally to eight for the season.
Tom Anderson – on his first match as the new Rovers captain – had a chance to double the lead just five minutes later. Jason Lokilo’s delivery from a corner evaded the swinging leg of Cameron John and fell to the skipper – he connected well enough on the turn but it was straight at the Robins’ keeper.
The match moved to a midfield battle and while Rovers edged the better of the play with neat passing around the edge of the box by Richards, Simoes and John-Jules – the only shooting chance fell to Reece James who sent the ball over the bar.
It took half-an-hour for the hosts to register their first shot on target. Scott Twine’s effort from a free kick dipped horribly but didn’t really trouble Ellery Balcombe in the Rovers goal. The hosts best chance of the half fell to Swindon’s Matt Smith who curled around the far post after some neat play down the left by the Robins.
But it was Rovers who would get the next goal. Okenabirhie showed a striker’s instinct to nod in from close range in added time after Andy Butler kept Lokilo’s cross to the back post alive.
Swindon had the best of early stages of the second half but failed to test Balcombe with Twine’s effort from distance – which was a whisker high of the crossbar - the only shot for the Robins.
The hosts continued to have the most of the ball without ever testing the keeper while Anderson and Butler dealt with the aerial threat. While the number shots stayed low, the number bookings began to mount up for both teams.
It had always looked like Twine would have a say in any Swindon goal and it was his shot on the 75th minute which was fired through a number of bodies which gave the hosts a goal back. Hallam Hope had the final touch which gave Ballcombe no chance.
Swindon continued to look the most likely as the game went on but failed to test Balcombe - Diallang Jayesimi shinned it wide and several shots went over the crossbar.
An injury to John-Jules which forced him off with ten minutes to go was blow to Darren Moore’s men as they lost their obvious outlet to relieve the Swindon pressure while a yellow card for Reece James could see him serve a one-game ban on Tuesday.