Match report posted by Richard (view the full thread on the forum )
It was never in doubt, was it? For a match where bitten fingernails were expected to be the order of the day, the Town produced a surprisingly tension-free finale - helped along by a first half Accrington Stanley goal at Milton Keynes that settled the nerves. Once Jerel Ifil scored early in the second, STFC`s promotion was virtually assured, and the party could begin.
For me, the day started in the Merlin pub, which had been pretty much taken over by Walsall fans - but unlike the scenes in Bristol last weekend, there wasn`t a hint of trouble. The Saddlers were in good voice, and had obviously come for the party - singing "we`re going up with the Swindon" and other songs that made it clear they didn`t want MK getting promoted either. It made for a good atmosphere, which was soon continued into the County Ground - where the biggest attendance at the CG so far this century (!) were expecting a tense afternoon.
Sturrock made two changes from the defeat at Rovers, deeming Corr to be fit enough to play, he replaced Jutkiewicz up front, and Jack Smith came back into his right back role in place of Westwood. Smith wasn`t to last long though - falling awkwardly after a challenge, he was substituted by Westwood after just 19 minutes.
The Town took the game to Walsall from the start, but not really being able to break down the strong Walsall defence. The best opportunities came from corners - Ifil having one header at goal, and Nicholas also perhaps should have done better with another. Another corner caused pandemonium in the Walsall area - with goalkeeper Ince unable to claim it, the Town`s forwards couldn`t quite force it home. Ince did better shortly afterwards though bravely claiming a ball into the area by Roberts, when both Ifil and Sturrock were ready to pounce.
Swindon nearly pressed the self-destruct button after around the half-hour mark - with Ifil and ex-Town loanee Trevor Benjamin chasing a long ball forward, Ifil left the ball for Smith as it entered the goal area, but somehow the ball managed to squirm free of both of them. Just as it was looking like Benjamin would be gifted an empty net, Ifil challenged, and the ball stuck between his legs, and despite Benjamin trying to retrieve it, Ifil was able to keep it there until Smith came back to rescue him. Danger averted - maybe it was going to be our afternoon after all!
Towards the end of the half, Walsall began to attack more, but other than a couple of efforts that went harmlessly wide, or harmlessly hit the roof of the Town End, there was little of note troubling the Town defence.
Amidst all this, the news that Accrington were one up had filtered through to the Town`s support, meaning that MK would probably need to score four to trouble us.... though I have to say that, after the debacle at Rovers last weekend, I refused to believe it until I saw it with my own eyes... luckily the scoreboard operator obliged by putting the score up! Walsall fans were more tense though now - with Hartlepool taking the lead against Bristol Rovers, the Saddlers fans were keeping decidedly quiet.
Swindon attacked strongly at the start of the second half - forcing three corners in the opening minutes. A header from Peacock was blocked by defender when on route to goal, but the Town didn`t have to wait long. From the third corner that half, Zaaboub crossed in, and the ball was met powerfully by Jerel Ifil, who scored his first ever league goal with a bullet header that hit the top corner of the Walsall net. A great time to score your opener... and the grounded Ifil was immediately submerged by Town players as the County Ground erupted.
Lee Peacock should have doubled the lead shortly afterwards, with a free header from another corner - but he diverted the ball powerfully over the crossbar. Swindon were in control - and Walsall boss Richard Money (Dickie Dosh`s Barmy Army.... very good!) was sent to the stands after protesting a throw in - the referee was having a pe