Walsall 0 Swindon Town 2 - Match ReportBy Bescotbanter
A second game at the Bescot this week saw a struggling Walsall play high-flying Swindon Town, after terrible performance against Scunthorpe on Tuesday night, in which the Saddlers were defeated 4-1, despite Scunthorpe having 10 men for the second half of the game, and being 22nd in the league.
Dean Smith opted to sign Sam Mantom on loan from West Bromwich Albion just yesterday, the man who played for the Saddlers towards the tail-end of last year, and threw him straight into the starting 11. Richard Taundry was also moved to right back to make way for Malvind Benning, who was given his full debut in the absence of Andy Taylor.
The Saddlers got off to the worst possible start, Paolo Di Canio’s men starting quickly, and netting in just 57 seconds. Gary Roberts put the cross in from the left, Andy Butler flew in but was unable to head the ball out of the danger zone, and the ball found its way to Simon Ferry, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
GOAL Walsall 0 Swindon Town 1 (Ferry, 1’)
Walsall looked to make an immediate response, a break saw some promising play, eventually ending in a shot on goal by Jamie Paterson, missing to the right of the goal. But it was Swindon who looked more likely to score again, and soon after went on attacks of their own. A corner saw Andy Williams fire over, before David Grof was forced into a smart save to deny Swindon a second from close range.
Walsall never really got into the game after the Robin’s early goal. A Mal Benning free kick was punched away by Wes Foderingham with around 15 minutes on the clock, but their seemed to be a lack of communication that was costing the Saddlers, with Nicky Featherstone having a rare bad game, with some poor, miss-guided passes.
Swindon showed they weren’t going to sit back and defend their lead, and came extremely close to scoring on the break. A scramble in the box saw the ball fall to James Collins, but the Aston Villa youth player had what looked to be a certain goal, blocked on the line by Richard Taundry.
Walsall then started to settle into the game, but had little to show for their possession. Whilst loanee Sam Mantom showed hope for the Saddlers going forward, they showed little improvement from Tuesday night, and began to use the ‘hoofball’ tactics seen regularly last season, to the frustration of the Walsall fans.
And it wasn’t just the fans who were getting angry. David Grof in the Walsall goal had to make yet another brilliant save, tipping a Gary Roberts strike onto the post, and venting his concern to the rest of the squad afterwards. Overall, a poor first half for the Saddlers.
HT: Walsall 0 Swindon Town 1
A half time team talk from Dean Smith appeared to have done the trick, Walsall starting positivley, with Adam Chambers having the Saddler’s best chance of the game, volleying the ball over the bar from deep inside the penalty area, after being closed down well by the Robin’s defence.
Another attack around 5 minutes later saw Malvind Benning, who had played very well on his full debut, break through the Swindon defence and shoot low towards the bottom right corner. Wes Foderingham got down to the shot well to get a firm hand to the ball, and scoop it out of danger.
And the Robin’s shot stopper was forced into action again from a Saddlers free kick, after Nicky Featherstone was bundled over just outside the area. Jamie Paterson’s curling effort needed strong hands from Foderingham, who again denied Walsall an equaliser.
It was probably typical of Walsall that they should concede against the run of play, and when Swindon attacked at pace, they were again caught sleeping. Mal Benning made a great defensive block from an initial shot, but when the ball fell to last year’s League Two Player of the year Matt Ritchie, he was never really going to miss. His shot sinking into the bottom right hand corner of David Grof’s goal, and sinking Saddlers supporters lower into their seats, who were now watching a 10th straight game without a win, 5 of those being home defeats.
GOAL: Walsall 0 Swindon Town 2 (Ritchie, 62’)
And it didn’t get any better for the Saddlers. David Grof had to be alert to close down Gary Roberts well, saving a one on one effort, and then punching away a second attempt to keep the score at 2-0.
The introduction of Febian Brandy, Ashley Hemmings and even top scorer George Bowerman couldn’t find a note-worthy opportunity for Walsall, who pushed forward in the final ten minutes but just couldn’t fashion a chance.
FT: Walsall 0 Swindon Town 2
In summary, it was another poor performance from the Saddlers who, as mentioned, are now 10 games without a win, and slipping closer to relegation, now in 17th place. It’s strange to think that this is almost the same set of players who took 13 points from a possible 18 in September, reaching 5th place at one point.
One positive to take however was youngster Malvind Benning, who looked very impressive on his debut. He showed great technique, composure and kept his cool when more experienced teammates around him struggled, and got the Man of the Match accolade for his efforts. A really superb performance, which will surely see him become a first team regular for the remainder of the season.
FT: Walsall 0 Swindon Town 2 (Ferry 1’ Ritchie 62’) MOTM: Malvind Benning REF: Robert Lewis ATT: 4,139
By: Calum Williams
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