Football: Maskell rewards Swindon's bravery

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . . . 3

Swindon Town. . . . . . . .3

FORTUNE is fickle, they say, but last night, after much indecision, she finally got her act together and favoured the brave. Craig Maskell's last-minute diving header gave Swindon the draw they deserved after they looked to have become the victims of a cruel stroke of luck.

After their drubbing by Arsenal they could have been forgiven for approaching the in-form Wednesday with caution bordering on trepidation. Instead, they took the game to their hosts, upset their normally flowing passing game and saw their direct and determined tactics twice rewarded with the lead.

It was an advantage they were hanging on to fairly comfortably when, in the 69th minute, their goalkeeper, Fraser Digby, dislocated his shoulder when he went up for the ball in a goalmouth melee. He remained on the ground for more than a minute while the ball bounced around his goalmouth. It finally fell to Wednesday's stand- in striker Gordon Watson, who forced it over the line to restore parity.

Digby was helped from the field and replaced by the substitute goalkeeper, Nicky Hammond, whose first touch of the ball was to pick it out of the net as Watson scored his second goal inside a minute.

It looked like the turning point of a match in which Wednesday never found their rhythm and Swindon took every opportunity to unsettle their back four with deep, penetrating balls.

They went ahead after six minutes when Nicky Summerbee's corner was flicked on by John Moncur, and Andy Mutch got the last touch in a goalmouth scramble.

But, Swindon leads being something of a rarity, this one lasted less than a minute. Chris Waddle, out of touch for much of the game, turned up on the left and his cross found Watson at the far post, who turned the ball back for Mark Bright to tap in his 10th goal of the season.

The Swindon lead was restored after 19 minutes when, responding to Terry Fenwick's long ball, the Wednesday back four moved up but the linesman's flag stayed down and Maskell ran clear to beat Kevin Pressman with an angled drive.

Swindon's boldness faltered after the break when they fell back to defend their lead, but the loss of Digby raised their spirits again. Martin Ling's last-minute run down the left released Mutch, whose deep cross was met powerfully by Maskell's diving header.

The Swindon manager, John Gorman, said, 'We deserved it. We came to play good football and we showed great character. After results like this you start to feel optimistic.'

Wednesday's manager, Trevor Francis, said: 'Ours was a patchy performance and we made some horrendous mistakes.'

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nilsson, Walker, Pearce (Jones, 61), Worthington; Waddle, Hyde, Palmer, Sinton (Bart-Williams, 61); Bright, Watson. Substitute not used: Woods (gk).

Swindon Town (4-4-2): Digby (Hammond, 67); Fenwick, Whitbread, Taylor, Horlock; Summerbee, Ling, Moncur, Maskell; Scott (Fjortoft, 80), Mutch. Substitute not used: MacLaren.

Referee: P Don (Middlesex).

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