Football / First Division: Draw points to Wembley

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The Independent Online
Swindon Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Leicester City . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

JULIAN JOACHIM, the England youth striker, was dismissed for what the referee deemed violent play at the County Ground yesterday, the third Leicester player to depart prematurely in five games. Joachim's controversial exit, for an offence that few on the pitch or in the stands had spotted, turned the game, allowing a purposeful Swindon side to overcome a one-goal deficit and nearly prise the victory that would have ensured a First Division play-off place.

Swindon were trailing to Steve Walsh's powerful header, his 13th goal of the season, when the Joachim incident unfolded seven minutes before half-time. A bout of wrestling between the teenager and Colin Calderwood brought both players swift lectures from the referee, John Key, and that seemed an end to the matter, until the linesman intervened. After a short discussion, Key summoned Joachim and to mass bemusement produced a red card.

'The linesman said that Julian threw two punches at Calderwood,' Brian Little, the Leicester manager and Joachim's mentor, said. 'I'm disappointed because I know the kid and I don't believe he could have done that.'

Leicester were lucky not to lose a second player four minutes later when Walsh, the stopper-turned- striker who had earlier been booked for fouling Martin Ling, lunged in late to leave Ross MacLaren needing extensive treatment. The incident, which appeared to be the worst indiscretion of an occasionally frenetic encounter, was ignored by Key.

Swindon dominated the second half, Glenn Hoddle moving into midfield but not with quite the same dramatic effect as when he sparked the extraordinary recovery at Birmingham on Easter Monday. The former England international stroked the ball around beautifully and nearly engineered an equaliser in the 69th minute. He found Ling, who advanced before striking a post for the second time in the match.

But deserved parity was only seconds away. The enterprising Nicky Summerbee chipped forward for Shaun Taylor to chest the ball down and flick the leveller past Kevin Poole for his 12th goal of the season. Not bad going for a centre-half.

'Once we'd scored it was a real lift and we could have won,' Taylor said. Paul Bodin then set up Ling and a Swindon win seemed inevitable, but the striker sliced his close-range shot wide.

'It's a shame we didn't win,' Hoddle said. 'They had one effort and scored from that, but now we just need a point to secure a play- off place.' A play-off between these two ought to be eventful.

Swindon Town: F Digby; N Summerbee, P Bodin, G Hoddle, C Calderwood, S Taylor, M Hazard, R MacLaren, D Mitchell, M Ling, C Maskell (B Marwood, 88 min). Sub not used: S Close. Player-manager: G Hoddle.

Leicester City: K Poole; G Mills, M Whitlow, R Smith, S Walsh, C Hill, D Oldfield, S Thompson, S Agnew (S Grayson, 77 min), J Joachim, L Philpott (T James, 77 min). Manager: B Little.

Referee: J Key (Sheffield).

Goals: Walsh (0-1, 21 min); Taylor (1-1, 70 min).