IT might not have been the result they were hoping for, but Swindon Town fans were left proud of their team after a brave display against Manchester City.

In front of a sell-out crowd at County Ground the Reds succumbed to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Premier League leaders but the general consensus from the Town’s faithful was it was a night to remember and full of excitement.

The 15,000-strong crowd did not stop cheering for an instant, excited to see the League Two outfit take on some of the best football players in the world, topped off with a scintillating goal by in-form Harry McKirdy.

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Supporter Ralph Plummer and his son Ben said how proud they were with the Robins’ efforts.

“We stuck at it even though there was a big difference in class. At the end of the day the fans got something out of it because we kept going at it and we got the goal,” said Ralph.

“They had moments where they did cause a problem for Man City. They did really well for the club and they gave them a game.”

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Straight after kick-off, there were huge cheers whenever Swindon touched the ball and strong jeers when the opposition gained possession.

The loudest whoops were, of course, for star player Harry McKirdy.

The atmosphere subdued somewhat after Man City’s Ilkay Gundogan scored but the saved penalty and then McKirdy’s goal in 78th minute turned that around.

The crowd roared with chants of ‘Oh Harry McKirdy’ to the tune of ‘Seven Nations Army’ filling the stadium and red smoke bombs clouding the goal end.

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There was hope in the air ahead of the match at County Ground that Manchester City might be fielding a weaker team after news broke that seven of their top players had tested positive for Covid.

That hope was short-lived when the list came out an hour before kick off with the likes of internationals Kevin de Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Gundogan and Bernado Silva in the starting 11.

One fan said he was “shocked” when he saw the line-up, but fans were in a buoyant mood before kick-off.

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There were huge queues of supporters pressed up against the railings in the hope of seeing the superstar Man City players arrive at their stadium.

The good mood was briefly spoiled an hour before kick-off when fans were seen getting rowdy outside on County Road near the County Ground Hotel pub.

Two extra police vans with more than a dozen officers sped towards the County Ground car park and it looked as if there might be a confrontation between police and supporters.

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Officers were forced to film the fans who were getting in their faces.

But the pre-match aggression luckily remained on the outskirts of the stadium and quickly subsided.

At half-time, Town were 2-0 down but Dale Nixon and son Casey were not disappointed with the result and acknowledged that getting to see their team play world-class footballers was a privilege.

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Casey plays for Swindon Academy Under 11s and he came with his dad who has supported Town all his life.

Dale said: “Swindon haven’t made the third round for years and Man City are top of the Premier League so I think today is about the money for the club from the TV and the financial aspect.

“We thought there would be a lot more youth players. It’s not disappointing, that team’s put away top Premier League teams.

“They didn’t give Manchester United a chance and it’s more or less the same team.

“Obviously you want to see them do well but it’s more about that money going to do for the club.

“Casey gets to see players in the flesh he wouldn’t see otherwise and you wouldn’t see them that close at a Premier League game.”

Vic and Beverly Morgan were waiting outside two hours before kick-off after they drove up from Devon to see their team play last night.

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They used to live in Swindon but, despite the two hour drive, they come to all the fixtures. They’re die-hard fans who have supported Town all their lives.

Vic said: “It’s a showcase tonight, it’s a chance for them to do well.

“It’s a great occasion and it’s not every day you play the richest club in the world but we’re not going to win the FA Cup so I’d rather we got promoted.

“We want to get out of this league. To us, that is far more important than Man City.”

Emily, 7, came with her dad Neil and her soft toy Slothy McKirdy to watch her first night game.

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Neil was originally a West Ham supporter but since moving to Swindon five years ago, he’s had a season ticket for the last four seasons - although he does still check West Ham’s scores.

“We’ve thrown it all behind Swindon and gone for a season ticket,” he said.

“Because Emily’s going to grow up here, she’ll be a Swindon fan.

“For this draw to come after the last six months is a real miracle.”

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Barry Clark has been coming to Swindon games for 45 years and he was back at the County Ground last night with his two sons Darren and Matthew and his brother-in-law Clifford Marren for the big match.

“Tonight’s a chance for them to do well. It’s a buzz because the cup game could go either way.

His son added: “It’s especially exciting after the doom and gloom last year so to get this now is brilliant.”

Brother-in-law Clifford was feeling lucky before the game because he supports both teams. He was wearing his half-and-half Swindon and Man City scarf.

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He said: “It doesn’t matter who I’m supporting, does it? City have played here before and I saw that.

“It’s become more addictive to come and watch as I’ve got older.

“I’ve been coming to Town matches for 15 or 20 years. It’s too far for me to watch Man City so I have to watch it on the TV behind the ironing board.

“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t have a team with Swindon so it’s great they’re in the third round.”

In the stands after the final whistle, the reaction was mixed.

A few were disappointed, one said “it wasn’t a surprise” but the general mood was a happy one.

As one fan told the Adver: “I’ll never forget that goal and they gave it their all.”