Earlier today Walsall Football Club played host to Swindon Town in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. Columnist Scott Brotherton was in attendance, and shares his match report below.
Earlier today Walsall Football Club played host to Swindon Town in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton was in attendance, and shares his match report below.

Things couldn't have started any worse for Walsall as Swindon went ahead inside three minutes.

Nathan Byrne's floated ball into the middle didn't look too dangerous, but the prolific Michael Smith broke in front of Paul Downing and flicked the ball with his right boot into the bottom corner.

It was good movement and finishing by Smith for his 10th league goal of the season but he should never have got ahead of his marker.

The goal triggered a decent response by the Saddlers. They had a few dangerous corners that were eventually grabbed by Robins keeper Adam Foderingham.

Byrne cut into middle and sliced his shot well wide but Walsall had responded well to the setback and they were level on 18 minutes.

Some slick passing ended up on the edge of the Swindon box, and with Foderingham coming to close the down the ball, defender Jordan Turnbull made a hash of his clearance. The loose ball went straight to Tom Bradshaw on the angle, who slotted calmly into the corner of the empty net.

It was his 12th of the season and Bradshaw has also now been on the scoresheet for three games on the spin.

As the game opened up, Swindon midfielder Massimo Luongo clattered into Richard O'Donnell as the pair stretched and slid for the ball. Luongo received a yellow card, with O'Donnell getting a few stud marks in the chest for his troubles.

It was becoming a very end-to-end contest. Following another flowing move Jordan Cook ballooned one over, while Ben Gladwin's dipping effort went wide from similar position.

A Walsall breakaway then finished with Romaine Sawyers heading back into the mixer, causing a scramble in the area but the Robins somehow survived.

The Saddlers then had an equally heart-in-mouth moment themselves as, from a short corner, Byrne's cross bounced right across the six-yard box, evading everyone on its way out for goal kick.

Louis Thompson tried a curler from 20 yards but the Swindon youngster couldn't wrap his foot around the ball and it dropped well off target.

Mark Cooper's side had a lot of corners towards the end of the first half which Walsall kept out reasonably well amid the mounting pressure.

The Saddlers always presented a threat on the counter, but it was all square at the break.
PIC: A snowy Banks's Stadium. Picture courtesy and copyright © Mikey Hughes.

Whatever Dean Smith had said to his players it went out of the window after the restart, when they conceded another goal minutes from kick-off.

It all came from Walsall's own short corner which went badly wrong and set Swindon on the break immediately. Byrne took the ball forward and was being followed by Downing but Ben Purkiss got sucked in to helping out with the tricky wing-back, leaving Luongo totally free out wide.

Byrne spotted the opening and played in his unmarked teammate who fired low into bottom corner, beating O'Donnell at his near post.

The sleet and snow really started coming down during half-time it looked like the wintery conditions led to the next Swindon goal just five minutes later.

Downing, who had not had a Boxing Day to remember, slipped which gifted the ball to Michael Smith. He kept his cool to pick out the pass to Andy Williams, who showed great confidence in lifting over the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.

PIC: A snowy Banks's Stadium. Picture courtesy and copyright © Craig Hodgetts.

And there was no let-up as the Robins grabbed their fourth before the hour mark.

More fantastic passing play carved Walsall open, climaxing with Smith's low centre to Williams who flicked it in off the post.

In a mere 12 minutes, the match had gone from hotly contested to game over, and it could have got even worse if not for a lucky offside flag.

Bradshaw then teed up sub Ashley Grimes, only minutes after he'd entered the fray, whose smart finish was also chalked off for an offside.

Foderingham was called into some late action, stopping Anthony Forde's free kick with a strong left hand and tipping away Cook's effort from an acute angle.

But it was too little too late and the damage was already done.

The game became somewhat of a non-event around the hour mark, with the heavy snow on the surface stifling Walsall's play: the Saddlers slip to 15th.

Swindon seemed have no trouble though, moving the ball about with ease. They stay third but could easily get automatic promotion on the evidence of this commanding performance.

By: Scott Brotherton.

 RESULT   WALSALL     1      SWINDON TOWN     4   
  HALF TIME    1-1  
 GOALS  Bradshaw 18' - Smith 3', Luongo 46', Williams 51' & 57' 
 AT  Banks's Stadium (Walsall) 
 ATTENDANCE  5,696 (1,204 Swindon Town) 
 REFEREE  Mr. David Webb (County Durham) 

 WALSALL  O'Donnell; Purkiss    , J.Chambers, Downing, Henry; A.Chambers ©    , Cain; Cook, Sawyers (Grimes 67'), Forde; Bradshaw (Manset 76')

 SUBS NOT USED  MacGillivray; O'Connor, Benning; Flanagan, Baxendale

 SWINDON TOWN  Foderingham, Branco, N.Thompson (Reeves 71'), Turnbull, Byrne, Stephens, L.Thompson, Luongo     (Kasim 66'), Gladwin (Toffolo 56'), Williams, Smith

 SUBS NOT USED  Belford, Bell, Rodgers, Obika
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