Swindon sweep United aside ...
Free-scoring promotion chasers Swindon racked up their third consecutive convincing home win and left Carlisle United with some soul searching to do on their long journey home.
“There are no excuses,” manager Greg Abbott conceded. “This is a low point for us. Swindon were the better side and they have punished us. Maybe it was one game too far in what has been a busy period, but we aren’t even going to offer that as a reason. We just haven’t competed well enough in key areas. I’ve made it clear what my thoughts are in the dressing room and there aren’t too many arguments. The lads know they have to be better.
“We’ve had four games where we’ve seen improved performances and we have to treat this as a one-off. We have defended better and we have looked much stronger leading up to this and we need to get back to that when we face another in-form side in Coventry City next Sunday."
The Robins took just 60 seconds to register their intent when Ferry won the ball from Potts in midfield. Williams took off down the right flank and invited Collins to have a go with a precise low cross. Livesey blocked it, but Gillespie had to be at his diving best as Ferry arrived late to unleash a thunderbolt.
Injury worries hit the Cumbrians again when defender Mike Edwards limped from the pitch with less than ten minutes on the clock, but that signalled a return for long serving defender Peter Murphy as he dropped in to the vacant slot.
More intricate play from Williams allowed Collins to go one-on-one and it was heart in the mouth time as the Carlisle keeper scampered off his line to challenge. The nippy front man hit the floor but the subsequent penalty appeals were waved away.
Sharp work from Ritchie allowed him to steal possession from Brad Potts deep inside the Carlisle half and Collins wasted no time in crating an angle. Roberts was unmarked at the back post but he guided his volley just past the target when the delivery came.
The first goal came for the home side when Carlisle completely fell asleep for a throw-in half way inside their own half. Williams ghosted into space inside the box and deftly lobbed the ball back over his own shoulder, leaving Murphy on his heels, before confidently crashing it into the back of the net.
It became one-way traffic and another penalty appeal was ignored as Livesey slid in to block another goal-bound effort from Williams. The big central defender quickly became the hero of the hour as he notched up two more moments of bravery when he stopped pile drivers from Collins and Ritchie at source. Robson had to help out with the second one as he cleared the follow-up from Ritchie off the line.
Livesey was there again to clear off the line as Gillespie was beaten by a scuffed shot from the lively James Collins with the pressure on the home side growing by the minute.
The Cumbrians had only themselves to blame as the Robins doubled their lead when they pounced to charge down a half-hearted clearance. Ritchie whipped the ball across the face of goal and Collins did the rest as he took his personal tally to five goals in two outings.
Collins was suddenly everywhere and he pulled another snapshot just wide of the upright when he pulled the trigger from a very tight angle. Collins, Roberts and Williams then had moments of hesitation as they waited for the perfect time to shoot and it was a sense of relief which greeted the half time whistle.
The Robins looked confident as they reorganised after the break and Collins was disappointed when he pulled a shot well wide following an enterprising run across the face of the 18-yard box.
Joe Devera then somehow conspired to miss when it looked easier to score when he got onto the end of a looping corner. He made a connection but it his high and ballooned over the bar.
A three goal cushion was established early in the second half as Swindon carved their way down the right wing. Ritchie delivered a perfect cross and Williams grabbed his brace with a rasping first-time shot.
Miller almost grabbed a goal at the other end when a Symington shot spooned high and dropped into his path. The flag stayed down as the bouncing ball spun off the surface and into the keeper’s hands.
The big United striker brought a near post save from Foderingham with a shot from distance and James Berrett found the roof of the net when he made a firm connection from just outside the box.
Mark Gillespie was quickly back in action at the other end when he pulled off a wonderful save to deny a Hollands header from an inswinging corner.
Martin and Roberts then spurned gift-wrapped openings provided by intelligent play from McCormack but a disastrous day became a complete nightmare when substitute Raffa De Vita stabbed a fourth goal home from a fortunate rebound following a curled drive from Roberts.
The Robins pushed for a fifth goal and a stinging drive from Thompson left Robson on the floor as he made the block. Tommy Miller waited for the rebound and he was unlucky to see his fierce swipe ricochet away to safety off the bar.
Gary Roberts started to find space and he was left with his head in his hands when a 20-yard free kick hit the floor and dropped wide of the target. He then reacted first to win a whipped McCormack cross only to see his header fly over the bar.
United ended the day on the attack with a lob from Noble which had the keeper retreating, but it was Swindon who deservedly took the applause and the points from a one-sided game.
Swindon - Williams (16, 55), Collins (36), De Vita (80)
United - Robson (10), Noble (87)
Swindon Town - Foderingham, Devera, Ferry (Miller 77), Collins, Ritchie (De Vita 68), Roberts, McCormack, Thompson, Williams (Martin 64), Ward, Hollands. Subs - Bedwell, Flint, Navarro, Rooney.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Simek, Edwards (Murphy 9), Livesey, Robson, Berrett, Noble, Potts (Symington 39), McGovern, Miller, Loy. Subs - Collin, Welsh, Beck, Todd, McGinty.
Referee - Mr Trevor Kettle
Away fans - 9,162 (246 away fans)