Albion 2 Swindon 1.

The £300,000 Albion splashed out on Glenn Murray looks like money well spent after five goals in 12 starts.

If that is the case then his partner, lured back south for a quarter of the price, must be one of the snips of the season.

A few eyebrows were raised when Albion paid Hull £75,000 last summer for 34-year-old Nicky Forster and awarded him a three-year contract.

The doubters appeared to be validated when Forster failed to score in ten of his first 11 appearances.

Seven months and 19 goals later, the talismanic skipper, penalty-taker and now free-kick expert is spearheading a push for the play-offs which is threatening to go right to the wire.

Forster scored for the fourth game in succession and raised his most recent burst to seven in as many matches, with a double which earned the makeshift Seagulls another precious home victory. That tardy start is well and truly behind him.

Dean Wilkins, who will struggle to make a better value-for-money buy in the rest of his managerial career, said: "I must admit at that time you are looking at it and thinking Oh my God' but when you thought about it rationally you knew for sure we had a quality player and he would eventually score goals once he settled in.

"I would imagine people were looking at his age and thinking maybe it was not a paltry sum but he has been a really good signing.

"We did a lot of homework to get him to the club. The chairman worked hard in his communication with Hull. We worked hard as well to convince him this was the right move for him.

"He has been a big influence in and around the place and his goals have been invaluable."

Forster still looks fit and sharp for his age so Albion can look forward to at least two more good years from him.

"I am enjoying my football," he said. "Everyone knows I am in the latter stages of my career now but I feel good.

"My enthusiasm for the game and energy levels are good. I came into the game late and I will finish it late."

Forster's finishing against mid-table Swindon was right out of the top drawer. He equalised early on with a glancing header from a Dean Cox free-kick, guided expertly out of reach of giant keeper Peter Brezovan.

His second-half winner was even better, a curling free-kick from outside the box which found its way into the net via Brezovan's right-hand post.

Forster, crafty old marksman that he is, refuses to set his sights higher than his 20-goal target for the season. He said: "I am not going to move that to 25 or something like that, because I know this season I have been 12 or 13 games without a goal so I am not going to be unrealistic.

"I want to get to 20 goals first and keep scoring after that if I can. My objective every game is to score a goal."

Albion's collective objective must be to stop falling behind and leaking early goals.

Their defending of set pieces is another area which needs addressing. Craig Easton gave Swindon an eighth-minute lead from a corner with an angled drive at the far post which Michel Kuipers might have kept out.

Wilkins' worst fears were in danger of being confirmed at that point. He was worried about how Albion would cope defensively without the injured Adam El-Abd and Matt Richards and the suspended Andrew Whing.

Hesitantly was the answer, although they got better at the back as the game wore on, and chief scout Barry Lloyd seems to have unearthed a good replacement for El-Abd in the centre of midfield.

Frenchman Therry Racon, signed on loan from Charlton for the rest of the season, impressed on his debut. Sound in his defensive duties, he was also accomplished in possession and his energy levels were excellent considering it was his first senior outing since Boxing Day.

The same cannot be said of some of his flagging team-mates after seven games in 22 days and there is no let-up, a tough visit to Leeds on Saturday following today's test at Nottingham Forest.

There is certainly an abundance of character and resilience in the squad. This was the fourth time in seven fixtures so far during mad March that Albion have come from behind to win or draw and they have collected 13 points over that period, which is admirable in such initially adverse circumstances.

The unbeaten run in League One at fortress Withdean also stretches to ten games now, a sequence only interrupted by that baffling FA Cup exit against Mansfield.

Unfortunately, five of Albion's remaining eight matches are away from home, the next three against fellow play-off contenders.

The journey to Southend next month is the last midweek so at least the schedule for the run-in is more sensible and less draining.

The big question mark is whether Albion have sufficient quality strength in depth to cope with the absence of key first team regulars, which is why further raids into the loan market must be considered before Thursday's deadline.

The nightmare scenario is losing Forster through injury. The captain and Murray are leading the charge and, if they stay fit, anything is possible.

Albion (4-42): Michel Kuipers (GK), Gary Hart (RB), Tommy Elphick (CB), Joel Lynch (CB), Kerry Mayo (LB), Dean Cox (RM), Therry Racon (CM), Steven Thomson (CM), Ian Westlake (LM), Glenn Murray (CF), Nicky Forster (CF).

Subs: Tommy Fraser (for Westlake, 82), Guy Butters (for Cox, 89), Jake Robinson, Joe Gatting (for Forster 90, Shane McFaul.



GOALS: Forster (12, 66).

SWINDON (4-3-1-2): Peter Brezovan (GK), Jack Smith (RB), Jerel Ifil (CB), Hasney Aljofree (CB), Miguel Comminges (LB), Craig Easton (CM), Michael Timlin (CM), Jon-Paul McGovern (CM), Anthony McNamee (AM), Simon Cox (CF), Blair Sturrock (CF).

Subs: Billy Paynter (for Sturrock, 67), Sofiane Zaaboub (for Easton, 82), Barry Corr (for Cox, 83), Phil Smith, Andrew Nicholas.

YELLOW CARDS: Ifil (66), Comminges (90) RED CARDS: None.

GOAL: Easton (8).

How good was Nicky Forster's performance on Saturday?