A stunning brace from Erhun Oztumer secured the Saddlers’ first away win of the 2016/17 campaign on this day one year ago.
Jon Whitney’s men entered the match in flourishing form having lost just one of their previous eight matches in all competitions. The Saddlers faced a Swindon Town side struggling to conjure up points, despite keeping two clean sheets on the bounce. The addition of Chilean goalkeeper Lawrence Vigoroux, who signed from Liverpool in the summer for an undisclosed fee, was vital in strengthening Swindon Town’s backline. Due to Vigoroux’s impressive performances in Swindon colours since his permanent signing, it was going to take something special to beat the 22-year-old shot stopper on this day.
And the diminutive playmaker Oztumer did just that 17 minutes into the match with a quick-witted strike 40 yards from goal following an interception from Darnell Furlong’s impetuous pass. The Wizard of Oz spotted Vigoroux off his line and netted an audacious lob that fell perfectly into the back of the Swindon net, putting the Saddlers 1-0 up to the delight of the travelling supporters situated in the Arkell’s Stand.
Swindon were limited to half-chances and long-range shots throughout, Anton Rodgers' effort with 20 minutes played was easily gathered by ex-Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Sean Murray, Johnny Goddard and Nathan Delfouneso were also restrained to pot shots that came to nothing, with Walsall defending superbly to shut a Swindon side out that had scored three past high-flying Rochdale on the Tuesday evening prior to this game.
Walsall’s lone striker Andreas Makris should have made it 2-0 to Walsall in the 46th minute after he was presented with an empty goal but he hit the crossbar from close range.
Regardless, the Saddlers had to wait five minutes before doubling their lead. Oztumer claimed his second goal of the game and seventh of the season after flicking a sublime volley past a helpless Vigoroux from Kevin Toner’s long pass to make sure the three points were heading back up the M5.
Kieron Morris looked to get in on the act by driving two efforts inches wide of the post, and man-of-the-match Oztumer had a volley blocked by an alert Vigoroux in the final few moments.
The victory made it three wins in four league matches for Walsall, who rose to 12th place in the top half of the table. The Robins, on the other hand, sat just above the relegation zone by a solitary point. In the reverse fixture at the Banks’s in April 2017, the Saddlers came out on top 1-0 winners thanks to Joe Edwards’ 85th minute goal as Swindon’s League One survival hopes were dented.
Walsall XI: Etheridge, McCarthy, O’Connor, Toner, Laird, Chambers, Edwards, Morris (Ginnelly 85’), Moussa, Oztumer, Makris (Bakayoko 62’).
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Dobson, Osbourne, Kinsella, Preston.