Walsall 1-1 Swindon Town
28/01/2013 - 19:45
A half-hearted second half performance from the Saddlers saw us squander a winning position at the Banks`s for the first time since August, and allowed the visitors to escape with a point.
After we treated The County Ground like our own backyard back in October, and after thrashing Notts County at the weekend, confidence should have been high on our return to home soil. To be fair, for the majority of the first half that was the way it seemed as the Saddlers passed the ball around penetratively and carved a number of chances to take the lead. First Febian Brandy fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box when the ball looked destined to nestle in the top corner, then moments later Westcarr also fired over from just outside the area.
The visitors were looking more threatening from set plays, and had a couple of efforts flash wide, but then the game came to life just after the half hour mark. Sam Mantom floated a free kick into the area, resulting in Andy Butler colliding with Fotheringham in the visitors goal. The skipper was ticked off by the referee with Fotheringham complaining bitterly about the rough treatment he`d received. He was made to pay for his moaning moments later when the home side took the lead with an excellent move which began with a free kick in our own penalty area. Richard O`Donnell found James Chambers galloping down the right, Chambers played the ball inside to Westcarr, who released a first time ball to Sawyers who slotted the ball home between Fotheringham`s legs.
At that point the game really was there for the taking, but for reasons known only to the players on the pitch they opted to take their foot off the gas and seemed content to pussy foot around on the edge of the visitors penalty area without really attempting to extend the lead. It was a policy that got exactly what it deserved and saw us get bitten on the backside with twenty minutes to go.
The Saddlers failed to clear a corner and, when it was returned to the area a second time, Michael Smith found space between the centre halves and planted a diving header past the left hand of O`Donnell.
It gave the home side the kick up the backside they needed, and they did finish the game strongly. Brandy forced a save from Fotheringham, Mal Benning saw a piledriver fly further wide than it looked, and in the final minute of injury time Ashley Hemmings saw a dipping drive clip the top of the crossbar.
So definitely two points dropped, but at the same time I think we`d have all taken three wins and three draws from our six games in January, so it would be harsh to be too critical. We should consider it a warning though that we can`t just take points and wins for granted as tonight it felt like we thought we`d done enough. I`m sure Deano will sort this out though before the (weather permitting) trip to Northampton on Saturday.