Manchester Metropolis don’t take these assignments calmly, even when introduced with some unhelpful hurdles in the buildup to this recreation and, maybe unsurprisingly, nearly half a billion kilos’ price of expertise got here out on prime towards a Swindon City crew 72 locations under them in the pyramid. In the end Metropolis punished Swindon’s makes an attempt to play them at their very own recreation and Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gündogan and Cole Palmer earned a victory that noticed them ease into the FA Cup fourth spherical. No matter defeat, Swindon supporters will at all times cherish the second Harry McKirdy streamed by means of on aim, amid the backdrop of followers collectively rising to their toes, and drilled the ball into the Metropolis web earlier than a jam-packed City Finish.
Regardless of the rating, Swindon supporters have been decided to savour the event after a depressing couple of years following a crew that have been unceremoniously relegated to the fourth tier final season, stricken by off-field chaos. Ben Garner insisted his aspect would play their regular recreation and never resort to soiled or direct ways however, on the identical time, the closest they got here to rolling out the crimson carpet was ordering two bins from a waste administration firm to offer Metropolis with the means to get pleasure from a post-match ice tub. This ageing, sold-out stadium was rocking at kick-off.
A look on the teamsheet made it onerous to imagine a Covid outbreak had decimated City’s numbers and inevitably disrupted their preparations, with Pep Guardiola and 7 gamers amongst 21 of the first-team bubble that have been absent right here as a result of they’re isolating. Guardiola was in dialogue with the Metropolis employees crammed into the away dugout. Ultimately Metropolis made solely 4 modifications from the crew that overcame Arsenal in the Premier League final trip as they named a beginning lineup that value a £425m to assemble, together with Kevin De Brunei and Rúben Días. On paper it was a complete mismatch – Swindon paid a nominal payment for simply one of many gamers that began this recreation, the captain Dion Conroy – and the League Two aspect stay beneath a switch embargo owing to the earlier regime failing to pay gamers and employees.
Regardless of the monetary gulf each groups have the identical variety of gamers on the Africa Cup of Nations – one, with Riyad Mahrez and Jojo Wollacott away with Algeria and Ghana respectively – which meant Swindon named their 43-year-old goalkeeping coach Steve Mildenhall among the many substitutes. Mildenhall’s legendary standing in these components elevated tenfold when he assumed the function of de facto supervisor final summer time after an exodus of employees and key figures – Swindon had eight contracted gamers in pre-season – earlier than a takeover that led to the arrival of head coach Garner.
Rodolfo Borrell, the assistant coach who took cost of Metropolis in the absence of Guardiola, had prompt they made to lean on the under-18s as a result of gamers in the event squad had examined constructive for Covid however the one teenager to start out the sport was the 19-year-old Cole Palmer, who made his league debut in November. There have been seven youngsters on the bench, together with the Brazilian striker Kayky, alongside two goalkeepers. It was Palmer who helped Metropolis stride into the lead on 14 minutes, the England Underneath-21 midfielder waltzing past Ellis Iandolo, Swindon’s longest-serving participant, earlier than sending in a scrumptious cross into the six-yard field, the place Silva was available to faucet in. Metropolis, as anticipated, dominated possession and doubled their lead with out breaking sweat, seizing on a Swindon lapse. De Bruyne picked out Jesus with a diagonal cross and the striker slid the ball past Lewis Ward in the Swindon aim.
Swindon struggled to get close to Metropolis however the strikerMcKirdy, who scored 4 towards Northampton final weekend, was energetic and, in the primary half, tried to lob Zack Steffen in the Metropolis aim. As Garner had promised, they weren’t going to be shy, even when generally their daring was to their undoing. However amid a superb ambiance, it grew to become clear Swindon supporters are grateful simply to nonetheless have their membership. A rousing chant of “arise when you love the City” introduced nearly everybody bar the two,300 away supporters in the uncovered Stratton Financial institution Finish to their toes.
Gündogan added a 3rd, effortlessly dispatching a free-kick low into the nook following a conflict of heads between De Bruyne and Iandolo after which Metropolis missed the possibility so as to add to their tally. Silva was fouled by Lyden contained in the field however Ward dived to his proper to disclaim Jesus, who staggered his run up. Metropolis have been comfy and Palmer added a fourth however the Swindon substitute Jonny Williams performed in McKirdy to make sure Swindon departed with a second to recollect, when the previous Aston Villa striker fired by means of the legs by means of Steffen.