BRIGHT starts to the first and second half saw Swindon Town defeat out-of-form Walsall 2-1 at the County Ground in League Two this afternoon in appalling and torrential rain.

Eoin Doyle and Diallang Jaiyesimi were on target for Richie Wellens’ side, who registered their ninth win of the season to move into the division’s automatic promotion frame – albeit several teams below have one, if not two, games in hand.

Doyle bagged the hosts’ first with five minutes played before Jaiyesimi fortuitously notched Town’s second – Walsall promptly responded, though, when Rory Gaffney’s glanced header denied Steven Benda what would’ve been a third successive clean sheet.

Then the torrential rain arrived, prompting the game to take a scrappy turn with chances at a premium.  

Richie Wellens made one enforced change to last week’s team that breezed by Crawley.

Injured Lloyd Isgrove missed out, in came Keshi Anderson.

Walsall were first to threaten, Liam Kinsella volleyed Danny Guthrie’s cross over Benda’s crossbar after ex-Town player Elijah Adebayo won a corner.

But the Saddlers’ bright start was almost immediately forgotten about when Doyle notched his 14th goal of the season.

Jerry Yates’ through ball sent the hungry Anderson through into the penalty area – the 24-year-old made a smart decision to pick Doyle out in the middle who tapped in Town’s opener from close range under no pressure.

It’s the third time Doyle has scored inside five minutes this season – other early markers came against Crawley last weekend and Morecambe in August, Town won both of those games convincingly.

Convincingly wasn’t, however, the appropriate word to summarise the hosts’ output in the 10 minutes that followed.

On loan ‘keeper Benda made an excellent diving save to his left after ex-Town forward Adebayo struck a powerful right-footed drive on the edge of the area.

Rory Gaffney’s flicked on header was also blocked out as Benda weathered a minor storm.

But the hosts’ real blow came moments later when Anderson went to ground clutching his right hamstring after he attempted to control Donohue’s long ball forward.

Town’s playmaker hobbled off the pitch, with assistance, and was replaced by Jordan Lyden.

Walsall had to make an early change also. Midfielder Guthrie came off after going to ground, Alfie Bates came on in his place.

Changes stalled Town’s fluency. Several mis-placed passes halted potentially dangerous attacking moves while visiting Walsall were equally scrappy.

This was no more so evident than when Pring’s cross from the left was mis-controlled by Gaffney, preventing what would’ve been a clear goalscoring opportunity on the half-hour mark.

The half’s longest passing phase occurred in the final minute, Town stringed together dozens of pass and move plays before the unmarked Doughty raced towards the edge of the D.

A quick look up allowed last season’s Town Player of the Year to pick out Doyle on the opposite side of the box – but the Irishman’s reach wasn’t sufficient as a possible header was missed and Walsall were granted a goal kick.

A goal up at half time, perhaps a fair reflection of the game.

Heavy rain continued to fall at half time, and conditions on the perimeter of the pitch between the playing surface and spectators’ seats deteriorated dramatically.

The pitch itself remained in good nick, credit to Marcus Cassidy and his hard-working voluntary ground staff.

Similar to the first half, Town were quick to make their mark and quickly doubled their lead within a minute.

Benda’s punt forwards was well flicked on by Doyle before Jules’ defensive blunder granted Jaiyesimi possession in a dangerous area 25 yards out.

Town’s on loan attacking midfielder proceeded into the penalty area before his effort was cruelly deflected into the Saddlers’ goal.

It wasn’t long until Walsall halved their deficit, though.

A confident Benda was perhaps wrong - with hindsight - to leave his goal line as Gaffney comfortably pegged a goal back when glancing an inswinging free kick into the hosts’ net.

The County Ground’s atmosphere dropped a notch off the back of Gaffney’s marker, and Walsall grew into the game – not that any major chances could be noted.

Tame chances came and went, Hunt’s drive from 20 yards out was the pick of the bunch as the game experienced a 20-minute lull – even that attempt was comfortably gathered by visiting stopper Rose.

Lyden went close too. In appalling conditions, the 23-year-old did well just to connect with Doyle’s cross from the left. But the Australian-raised midfielder could only crash a powerful drive into the Town End.

Chances continued to be few and far between in the game’s closing minutes, though Benda made a remarkable one-handed save late in stoppage time to prevent what would've - without question - been a late equalising goal. 

Swindon Town: Steven Benda, Zeki Fryers, Mathieu Baudry ©, Jerry Yates, Michael Doughty, Rob Hunt, Diallang Jaiyesimi (Kaiyne Woolery, 58’), Eoin Doyle, Keshi Anderson (Jordan Lyden, 21’), Dion Donohue, Anthony Grant.

Walsall: Jack Rose, Cameron Pring, Matt Sadler ©, Dan Scarr, Liam Kinsella, Elijah Adebayo (Caolan Lavery, 71’), Rory Holden, Danny Guthrie (Alfie Bates, 24’), Shay Facey, Rory Gaffney, Zak Jules (James Hardy, 71’).