|view Roberts's match-by-match record|
After a permanent deal for Darius Henderson fell through, manager Andy King moved quickly to sign Roberts from local rivals Bristol City, for an initial £20,000 - the rest of the £50,000 fee being paid in instalments based on appearances and performance. Roberts made his debut the following Saturday, scoring the winner for the Town in a 1-0 win over Oldham on 16th October 2005. His second goal came just a week later, in a 2-2 draw at Barnsley - Roberts was also giving some impressive performances, most notably in the two games with Sheffield Wednesday - where firstly he played a major part in helping the Town come from 2-0 down with twelve minutes to go to win the league match 3-2, and then in mid-November, in a 4-1 victory in the FA Cup.
Part of the deal with City meant that Roberts would not be eligible to play in any of the games against them during the season, but when the two sides were drawn together in the LDV Vans Trophy, City boss Brian Tinnion gave permission for Roberts to play. Unfortunately though, a car accident on the way to the match kept him out of the game and the FA Cup tie with Notts County at the weekend, when his car was hit by a bus, then crashed into another car as he pulled out of a petrol station near the County Ground - and though he suffered minor whiplash and bruising, it was a lucky escape.
The incident was just the start of an injury-stricken period for Roberts - after being substituted during the Boxing Day win at Peterborough, he sat the next few games out with what was thought to be a simple groin injury. A visit to a specialist in mid-January highlighted a bigger problem though, and he was forced to undergo hernia surgery. It was mid-March before he returned to the first team, coming on as a substitute at Luton, but the lay-off had obviously taken it's toll - though he featured in all but one of the remaining games during the run-in - mainly on the right wing in an attacking five man midfield - in every one, he was either substitute or substituted during the match.
Having admitted to personal problems during the season, prior to the new campaign Roberts declared that the "little devils in my head are out of the way" - but with the arrival of Tony Thorpe and Jamie Cureton, throughout pre-season Roberts was utilised in the same wide-right berth instead of the central attacking role he preferred. Roberts sat out the season's opener, but started and scored in the following game against Oldham - when Rory Fallon returned from suspension for the next match, Roberts found himself on the bench again. Though he was brought on ten times, he didn't start another league game until the middle of October, when on his 26th birthday, he netted a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe - and just when it seemed that new manager Iffy Onuora was about to give Roberts a longer chance in the first team, a toe injury kept him out for the next three weeks. He returned to feature as a second half substitute against his former club Bristol City in mid-November, and though he played in the next four games, a change of formation for a relegation clash at Rotherham saw him dropped to the bench again - and when he came on, he received a knock to the leg that again sidelined him, before flu kept him out over the Christmas period.
Early in January though, problems that had been alluded to in the past were finally confirmed when it was announced that Roberts had been suffering from an alcohol problem for over a year. As Roberts checked into the Sporting Chance clinic to receive treatment for a 28 day period, manager Onuora praised him for facing up to his problems. Surprisingly, Roberts was back in action shortly after his treatment - making four substitute appearances before the end of a season that manager Onuora had previously stated had been "written off" as far as Roberts was concerned.
After Onuora's sacking in May 2006, Roberts made an instant impression on new manager Dennis Wise - firstly, Wise bet that Roberts would score twenty goals in the coming season, offering to pay for a family holiday if he did so - and then, by installing Roberts as vice-captain for the new campaign. The strike partnership of Roberts and Lee Peacock impressed with their workrate at the start of the season, but goals were harder to come by - after missing a penalty against Rochdale in August though, Roberts opened his seasons' account in the next game at Darlington, followed by another against Stockport - and at the end of August, Roberts picked up the Powerade League Two Player of the Month award.
Following that, Roberts endured an eight game lean spell, and for a time he was dropped to the bench, but he admitted to playing through a knee injury - after a short spell on the sidelines, he returned to action in early November - going on a run of seven goals in the next seven games. This period also saw Roberts re-installed as the club's penalty taker - three of the goals coming from the spot - and new manager Paul Sturrock utilising Roberts on the left wing in an attacking 4-5-1 formation away from home.
A dip in form during February coincided with a sticky patch for the Town, and Roberts was harshly singled out for stick by an element of the Town's support - ironically cheering his substitution during a laboured victory over lowly Chester City. Sturrock criticised the fans' actions after the match, and Roberts later admitted that he came close to hitting the bottle again shortly afterwards.
After nine games without a goal, Sturrock signed Barry Corr on loan from Sheffield Wednesday in March - resulting in a big reshuffle of the Town's starting line-up for a top-of-the-table clash at Lincoln. Roberts started the game on the right side of midfield - and scored the Town's opening goal in a 3-2 win. This goal was followed with the winner against promotion-chasing Shrewsbury the following Saturday, Roberts remaining in this new position for the remaining games of the season, as Swindon secured promotion.
Roberts opened the 2007/08 campaign with a goal from the penalty spot at Northampton, but it soon became apparent that he was being troubled by a knee injury that could require surgery. Playing through the pain barrier, Roberts was dropped to the bench in October - and after scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 FA Cup win over Wycombe, he stated that he would be requesting "clear-the-air" talks with Sturrock. It wasn't long though before Sturrock resigned - and the caretaker duo of Ady Williams and Dave Byrne named Roberts in their side to play Bristol Rovers. In a fiery encounter, four players were sent off, and Roberts scored the winner, courtesy of another penalty - the following week, he was back on the sidelines again - finally succumbing to his knee problem, a "cleaning-out" operation kept him out for a over a month.
On his return to action in January, new boss Maurice Malpas had taken over, and he soon passed judgement on Roberts' inconsistency - after Roberts had scored a superb solo goal at Luton, Malpas described Roberts as "either a Premiership player or a pub player". Roberts continued to play bit-parts throughout February, which was later attributed to his knee keeping him at 60% fitness - then in March, he finally broke down again, and the diagnosis this time was bleak. After seeking a second opinion that confirmed a micro-fracture, Roberts went under the knife again, this time expecting a lengthy absence from the game. When Roberts didn't appear in the squad photo for the new season, rumours surfaced that he may be forced to give up the game for good - a rumour that was confirmed in September, when he announced his retirement. A charity testimonial game was arranged for the following February, with a star-studded Chelsea Legends XI eventually taking the County Ground field in March after the first game was cancelled due to snow.
date of birth
right-sided attacking midfield
left-sided attacking midfield