SWINDON Town were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round after a 4-1 victory for Manchester City at the County Ground on Friday night.

In front of a crowd of almost 15,000, the Premier League champions put in a thoroughly professional performance and richly deserved their win – while Ben Garner’s Town did their reputation as a footballing side no harm whatsoever.

Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, and Cole Palmer all netted for City while four-goal hero, Harry McKirdy scored a famous goal for Swindon late on.

Prior to McKirdy's well-taken finish, the Town fans enjoyed another moment to savour as Lewis Ward kept out a Jesus penalty in front of the travelling City fans.

Town return to League Two action against Mansfield Town on Tuesday night, while City take on Chelsea in the Premier League next weekend.

Swindon made three changes to the side that hammered Northampton Town 5-2 in League Two last time out. Dion Conroy, Ward, and Ben Gladwin came in for Jojo Wollacott, Jack Payne, and Jonny Williams. The Welshman was fit enough for a spot on the bench, however.

For City, their team was almost as strong as it could be. Aside from goalkeeper Zack Steffen and forward Palmer, the other nine players were bona fide Premier League giants with bags of domestic and international experience.

The Premier League champions came out flying from the get-go and could have taken the lead inside the first minute when Palmer’s shot – which was curling towards the far corner – was headed away by Conroy. Silva then went close shortly after when curling over from inside the box.

In the seventh minute, Ellis Iandolo delivered a wicked cross from the left that Jordan Lyden almost reached – only to see City clear as an exasperated sigh was released by the Town crowd.

Town survived almost 15 minutes before City opened their account. Palmer ran at Iandolo before selling him a dummy and sliding a ball across the face of goal for Silva to ghost in and tap home.

It could have been two three minutes later when a clipped ball over the top was inadvertently headed into Silva's path by Akin Odimayo, but the City goalscorer blazed over with just Ward to beat.

Moments before City did double their lead, Town gave the ball away from a short goal-kick and De Bruyne curled straight at Ward.

The warning signs were not heeded by Swindon though as an almost identical breakdown saw Pep Guardiola’s side go two up.

Town took it short from a goal kick but Louis Reed gave it away. De Bruyne slipped Jesus in, and the striker made no mistake by passing into the right bottom corner to emphatically punish the hosts.

Just before the break, Town went close to pulling a goal back when Gladwin fed Lyden down the right. His cross was cleared from the goalmouth by Ruben Dias though with Tyreece Simpson waiting.

City continued at the same intensity as they had done in the first half, but the first 10 minutes featured only off-target shots from Kyle Walker and Palmer.

With the game slowing down, City made it three just before the hour. After Iandolo had clattered into De Bruyne 25 yards out slightly right of centre, Ilkay Gundogan stepped up and curled the ball into the bottom corner following a breakdown in communication with the set up of the wall.

Ward had endured a tough night up to that point but kept his head up well as he came up trumps to keep out Jesus' penalty in the 62nd minute.

Lyden was adjudged to have brought the Brazilian down inside the area, but after a little stutter, Jesus saw his spot-kick kept out down to Ward’s right.

As the changes came for both teams, the tempo dropped with Swindon trying to preserve their dignity.

With a little over 10 minutes to play, Swindon scored a goal which – despite the result – was something to cherish for the majority of the 14,500 which crammed into the County Ground.

Town stole it off City in midfield and substitute Jonny Williams drove forward before slipping it into McKirdy who was charging down the right. He took a touch out of his feet before blasting past Steffen at his near post.

City were in no mood to play Cup romantics, however, and they almost immediately restored their three-goal lead.

Palmer got the goal he probably deserved after setting the ball out onto his left inside the box before driving into the top corner off the bar past a helpless Ward.

Just shy of the 90-minute mark, the Town stopper made arguably his best save of the night after Rodri cannoned an effort goalwards from just outside the box. Ward flung himself to his right and just managed to flick the ball up onto the crossbar before it bounced out to safety.

Town survived three minutes of added time without further punishment, and the home fans applauded what was a magnificent and memorable game for all concerned.

STFC starting XI: Ward, Odimayo, Iandolo, Hunt, Conroy, Kesler-Hayden, Reed, Lyden, Gladwin, McKirdy, Simpson.

SUBS: Mildenhall, Crichlow, O'Brien, Williams, East, Parsons, Dabre, Cowmeadow, Grant.

MCFC starting XI: Steffen, Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Palmer, Bernado, Jesus.

SUBS: Carson, Silcker, Laporte, Kayky, Bobb, Egan-Riley, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia.