Ben Garner’s time at Swindon Town may have been cut short but it was a rollercoaster season that defied all of the odds.

Garner arrived at Swindon on 21st July 2021 as the head coach appointed alongside Director of Football Ben Chorley to replace John McGreal who left after a month at the helm.

Swindon had eight players and the season was just over two weeks away, so his pre-season had to be massively truncated as players arrived in a frenzy and he simultaneously created fitness levels and imprinted his heavy possession based system on the team.

Even his friendlies were cut short as he was able to face Weymouth and Peterborough, but two further friendlies were cancelled due to “operational issues.”

Despite all of this, a hastily complied were able to beat Scunthorpe 3-1 on the opening day of the season.

After a stable start, Garner’s side hit their stride in October, with his possession-based 352 that focused around flying wing-backs in Kaine Kesler-Hayden and Ellis Iandolo and the strong partnership up front between Harry McKirdy and Tyreece Simpson.

This led to impressive victories over Forest Green and Bristol Rovers, and a cup run that culminated in a showpiece third round tie against Manchester City where Swindon stuck to their principles, arguably to their detriment.

That game was to be the figurative end of Garner’s first side as his loan players were all recalled during January and were replaced by a completely new set that caused an eventual change in system.

After a downturn in form in February, for the Scunthorpe game Swindon switched to a 433 to better suit this new-look squad, using an attacking trident of McKirdy, Josh Davison, and Louie Barry to stretch defences on one side with the opposite winger coming inside to score goals, resulting in three straight wins where Swindon scored 11 goals against Scunthorpe, Carlisle, and Walsall.

From this point Town’s form improved but became inconsistent, so they were desperately hanging on to the play-off places coming into the final four games of the season.

Publicly Garner never wavered from his belief that his team would make the post-season, and after a home defeat to Leyton Orient this seemed incredibly farfetched, but an astonishing turnaround where Swindon defeated Hartlepool, Forest Green, Barrow, and Walsall to finish the season saw Town into the top seven.

Despite a penalties defeat after two legs of the play-offs against Port Vale, a season that started in such chaotic fashion and which the team had to be built twice under a transfer embargo, to get a young team playing the style of football into the play-offs was a real achievement.