SWINDON Town matched the Italian flair of exuberant boss Paolo Di Canio to hand Forest Green a footballing lesson, writes Jack Webb.
With Di Canio cutting a dash in designer touchline chic his side demonstrated the type of clinical display, which had provided the foundations for their League Two promotion last season.
Forest Green did make a bright start to the first half, controlling possession early on and creating the first meaningful opening when Reece Styche teed up Ben Wright who could only curl his right-footed shot high and wide of Wes Foderingham’s left-hand post.
However, it was Swindon who opened the scoring in the 15th minute with their first clear-cut chance of the match. Jay McEveley’s cross-found Gary Roberts at the far post who was able to head back across goal for the unmarked Troy Archibald-Henville to head past Matt Bulman.
The opening goal settled the visitors who began to assert their authority and dictate the match. The Robins were given the opportunity to double their lead when Paul Green upended Andy Williams in the penalty area in the 21st minute. Swindon captain Paul Caddis made no mistake from the spot, despite Bulman going the right way and getting a strong hand to Caddis’ well struck penalty.
Hockaday’s men composed themselves after the second goal until the 40th minute when Matt Ritchie struck an instinctive, powerful volley from outside the area, which Bulman had to be at his best to acrobatically palm over the crossbar.
However, Hockaday’s men were unfortunate not to pull a goal back minutes before the break as Wright’s curling free-kick flew just wide of Foderingham’s right-hand post.
The second period was laden with numerous substitutions from both sides. Despite the raft of changes the visitor’s quality remained evident, notably on 51 minutes when Roberts jinked between two defenders, before finding Williams who in turn laid the ball off for substitute James Collins’ whose shot was deflected wide.
Rovers were on the back-foot for most of the second half but almost reduced the deficit when substitute James Rowe’s 65th minute out-swinging corner was met by Omar Koroma who could only power his header over the bar after colliding with team-mate Green in the area.
Rovers were made to pay moments later when Luke Rooney crossed for Gary Roberts to slide in at the far-post. Hockaday will have been disappointed with the way in which Swindon were able to seal victory in the 81st minute when his side were slow to react to a short corner, allowing substitute Simon Ferry to sweep home to make it 4-0.
Rovers almost grabbed a consolation goal in the 85th minute when captain Jared Hodgkiss crossed for Yan Klukowski, but the midfielder could not direct his header on target.
The Robins were clinical in front of goal and enjoyed frequent spells of quality possession throughout a frustrating game for Hockaday’s men.
However, Rovers will need to bounce back quickly from this 4-0 defeat at the hands of Di Canio’s team before Championship play-off regulars Cardiff City visit the New Lawn on Saturday.
Forest Green: M. Bulman; J. Hodgkiss, E. Oshodi, P. Green, C. Stokes; K. Forbes, A. Bangura, Y. Klukowski; M. Vieira, R. Styche, B. Wright.
Subs used: E. Asafu-Adjaye, O. Koroma, M. Taylor, J. Norwood, J. Rowe, J. Collins, J. Turley.
Subs not used: S. Russell, C.Todd, P.Marsh.
Swindon Town: W. Foderingham; P. Caddis, T. Archibald-Henville, A. McCormack, J. McEveley; G. Roberts, A. Navarro, T. Miller, A. Williams; P. Benson, M. Ritchie.
Subs: J. Collins, L. Rooney, J. Devera, S. Ferry, R. De Vita, M. Storey, A. Flint, N. Thompson. O. Risser, C. Smith, L. Bedwell.
Referee: B. Malone (Wiltshire).
Star man: Al Bangura.