Town’s survival hopes were dealt a blow this afternoon after they suffered a 1-0 defeat away at Walsall.
The action came thick and fast in the opening exchanges with The Saddlers a whisker away from taking the lead with less than a minute on the board, while both Fankaty Dabo and Ben Gladwin went close for the visitors.
Lawrence Vigouroux was tested on a couple of occasions in a frantic first-half while Charlie Colkett was inches away from hitting the back of the net on the stroke of half-time.
The home side created the better of the chances after the break and they claimed the victory thanks to Joe Edwards’ late goal.
Town made just the one change with Ben Gladwin replacing John Goddard in midfield, with the latter dropping to the bench.
Luke Williams’ side knew they needed a win in order to give their survival hopes another boost but they were forced to overcome an early scare.
Walsall, who entered the contest with nothing to play for, flew out of the traps and came close to opening the scoring with Jason McCarthy seeing a shot cleared off the line by Dion Conroy, before Isaiah Osbourne was denied by Lawrence Vigouroux on the follow-up.
And the hosts tried their luck again less than a minute later as Amadou Bakayoko sent a header just over the bar.
It was soon The Reds’ turn to attack with Ben Gladwin’s shot from distance forcing Craig MacGillivray into action down low, while Nicky Ajose was set free down the wing but his attempted pass was cut out.
Town eventually grew into the game following a shaky opening and they began to dictate proceedings.
Fankaty Dabo received the ball about 25-yards out and thumped an effort just wide of the post, before Gladwin went closer as he danced his way through the home back-line before forcing MacGillivray into a superb one-handed save.
Walsall were soon back on the attack though and they nearly caught their guests out with a quick free-kick, but Vigouroux did well to deal with Kieron Morris’ low drive.
There was no doubting the fact that it was Town who needed the three points more and they looked to burst forward at every possible opportunity.
Gladwin charged forward after a Walsall move broke down and he played in Obika, but the striker’s shot was well charged down and blocked by James O’Connor.
Walsall were being restricted to few chances at the other end with Town defending well, although they were still able to test Vigouroux on a couple of occasions.
Morris was proving to be the danger man for the hosts and, moments after sending a tame free-kick straight into the arms of the Vigouroux, he leathered a bullet strike straight into the body of the Town stopper.
The game then became a tad scrappy as the first-half drew to a close, although there was still time for one more chance and it went the way of the visitors with Charlie Colkett hammering a well-struck shot inches wide of the far post.
Just like they did in the first-half, the Saddlers flew out of the traps after the interval and came close to landing the first blow of the afternoon with Morris flashing a shot just wide.
Both sides won a string of corners in the early stages of the second-half, although neither side were able to make them count with O’Connor sending a header straight at Vigouroux.
With the game having reached the hour mark, The Saddlers were beginning to turn the screw as they created a string of chances.
Morris tried his luck again but could only rifle a shot straight at Vigouroux, before Bakayoko fired over the bar and O’Connor glanced a header wide from Eoghan O’Connell’s whipped delivery into the penalty area.
Town then opted to make a change in order to shift the balance of the game in their favour with John Goddard replacing Conor Thomas.
Walsall freshened things up themselves before Rohan Ince thudded wide for The Reds, while James Brophy replaced Fankaty Dabo as the game entered its closing stages.
Swindon knew only three points would really do and they continued to press for that all-important goal late on, but they were being frustrated in their efforts with Goddard seeing his shot deflected into the arms of MacGillivray.
The Walsall stopper then produced a fine save to somehow push Gladwin’s flicked header out for a corner after the midfielder was picked out by Colkett’s sublime ball.
Erhun Oztumer, who had come on earlier for the hosts, saw his shot blocked at one end before Town had appeals for a penalty waved away at the other end.
And The Reds’ woes were conflicted mere moments later when Oztumer picked out Joe Edwards who produced a cool finish into the far corner to give Walsall a late lead.
Oztumer nearly doubled his side’s advantage in the dying minutes but he was prevented from pulling the trigger by Ince, although The Saddlers did enough to see the rest of the game out and claim the three points.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS - Joe Edwards (85).
WALSALL - MacGillivray; Preston, O’Connor, O’Connell; McCarthy, Osbourne (George Dobson 74), Chambers (C), Morris, Edwards; Bakayoko, Makris (Erhun Oztumer 71).
Subs Not Used - Ganley, Laird, Jackson, Hayles-Docherty, Candlin.
TOWN - Vigouroux; Barry, Rossi-Branco (C), Conroy, Dabo (James Brophy 76); Ince, Thomas (John Goddard 65), Colkett, Gladwin; Ajose, Obika.
Subs Not Used - Henry, Ormonde-Ottewill, Rodgers, Starkey, Norris.
Referee - Ross Joyce.
ATTENDANCE - 5,196 (913 Town Fans).