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09:25 19th April 2010


THE SADDLERS brought home a deserved share of the spoils from promotion hopefuls, Swindon Town.

There was a purposeful start from Walsall in the Swindon sunshine and a seventh minute corner from Steve Jones caused problems for the home defence as Clayton McDonald made his presence felt, but he was unable to turn the ball goalwards.

Jones was seeing plenty of the early ball and his deep cross forced another corner which this time Julian Gray delivered invitingly onto the head of Troy Deeney's whose effort was cleared for yet another flag-kick that McDonald headed well over.

Yet another corner, this time from Gray, was met with a firm header from McDonald that produced a fine tip-over from David Lucas with 13 minutes on the clock.

At the other end, The Robins failed to threaten until there was a glorious opening for Charlie Austin on the quarter-hour mark, but he was denied by Rene Gilmartin who was alert to make an important block as the Swindon hot-shot found space inside the area.

A good ball in from Jon-Paul McGovern picked out Billy Paynter who fired over, but as the half wore on, it was Walsall who were working extremely hard and closing the home side down well.

Some brave defending by Deeney saw him put his body on the line to block and this set up a Saddlers' raid as Gray broke before crossing in search of Alex Nicholls who almost profited in front of goal.

On the stroke of half-time, Nicholls' persistence saw him put Cuthbert under pressure after receiving the ball from his goalkeeper. Nicholls emerged with the ball to set up Jones who applied a neat finish into the far corner of the net.

It was a deserved goal for Chris Hutchings' side following a committed showing.

Steve Jones goal v Swindon WEB

The second period started with Gray linking up with Deeney whose effort was gathered by Lucas.

There was a fine reflex save from Gilmartin on 53 minutes as he denied Paynter from close range. However, the resulting corner found its way, rather scruffily, into the back of the net from Austin to make it 1-1.

Swindon upped the tempo in search of another goal and The Saddlers had to defend resolutely. A foul by Manny Smith on the hour gave the home side a free-kick in a promising position which McGovern dragged just inches off target.

At the other end, a neat move on the edge of the area saw Jones' intelligent dummy open up a shooting chance for Deeney which he put wide of the target.

On 74 minutes a corner fell out to McGovern whose hit from just outside the area brought a smart save from Gilmartin. Then an excellent block by McDonald saw him deny Paynter as The Robins' leading scorer was given too much time to line up a shot.

Alex Nicholls v Swindon 1 WEB

There was a booking for Nicholls for a late challenge, but his next involvement in the action was more positive as a breakaway from Gray saw him feed Nicholls who put his strike the wrong side of the post from a good position.

Peter Till replaced Jones with ten minutes left on the clock and Till's first involvement in the actyion saw him break down the right as Swindon pushed up. His eventual cross found Gray on the far side and he in turn pulled the ball back for Nicholls whose effort deflected wide.

The Saddlers came alive again in the closing stages having weathered the Swindon storm and Darryl Westlake's cross was met with an acrobatic effort from Deeney that landed wide.

In the end, Walsall were good value for a point at a side who are still in the automatic promotion race.

Alex Nicholls v Swindon WEB

PHOTOS: Kevin Grice

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.