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FRANK CAN'T SAVE SWINDON; Norwich 2 Swindon 0.

Frank Talia must have felt like a man facing the firing squad as Swindon were taken apart by a vastly superior Norwich side.

And Talia must have reckoned that manager Steve McMahon had done him no favours when he preferred him in goal to the long-serving Fraser Digby.

The Aussie, signed from Blackburn for pounds 125,000 last season, was the busiest man on the field.

Andy Johnson and Robert Fleck scored the goals that gave the Canaries a flying start to the season.

However, inside the first six minutes Talia had made fine saves from Mike Milligan and Keith O'Neill.

And before that Mark Robinson had blocked an O'Neill volley on the goal- line.

Talia deserved the luck he got in the 21st minute. He raced out to block a shot from Darren Eadie but the ball spun in the air. Talia was powerless to do anything about it as Andy Johnson met the rebound with a header that struck a post and rebounded to safety.

But Johnson made amends in the 26th minute, again after a great save from Talia, who pushed away a Neil Adams header.

Johnson followed in to nod the loose ball into the net from close range.

And it was no surprise when Norwich went two up in the 37th minute with a great goal from Fleck.

He out-paced Swindon skipper Shaun Taylor to swoop on to a through ball from John Bolston and lift a 25-yarder over Talia with the outside of his right foot.

Swindon were chasing shadows and tried to respond with a physical approach. That got them nowhere either and they must have been grateful to go in at half-time only two goals down.

The only time they had threatened in the opening 45 minutes was when Steve Finney hit a cross- shot that Norwich keeper Bryan Gunn pushed against the bar.

McMahon had clearly read the riot act to his out- played team during the interval. For there was more purpose about them in the second half.

But they were still second best and that man Talia was in action again to keep the score down.

He did well to get down to a shot from Fleck, who had again broken through the middle. Then Talia beat away an effort from Eadie.

Swindon's only reply was another effort from Finney, which Gunn dealt with comfortably.

Swindon may have had things all their own way in romping to the Second Division Championship last season.

But this season they will have to improve dramatically on this performance to make any sort of impression in the First Division.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Steggles, Jack
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 1996
Words:436
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