There are those Walsall fans who might have cause to curse Darren Wrack for putting them through the agony of losing to Swansea City on penalties for the second time in nine months.

If it had not been for Wrack's last-minute goal at Bescot on Tuesday night, then the Saddlers would have bowed out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at the end of the 90 minutes.

As it was, their fate in the Football League Trophy (as it was called prior to Johnstone's splashing out on sponsorship) was delayed some three quarters of an hour before Swansea once again won on penalties — just as they did at the Liberty Stadium in last season's Southern semi-final stage back in January.

But, if once again exiting the lower division clubs' only realistic chance of cup final glory on penalties was another bitter pill to swallow, at least there was some compensation in the form of Wrack simply being on the pitch.

Wrack, now 30, has been sidelined for the last 13 months, since badly breaking his leg at Yeovil last September. But, after a reserve outing last week, a scoring appearance from the bench on Tuesday night and a starting place in the Walsall line-up for yesterday's behind-closed-doors friendly with Port Vale, he is now clearly a long way down the road to full recovery. And the Saddlers' longest-serving player — twice a promotion winner under Ray Graydon — was clearly much heartened by the reception he got.

"The reaction I got from the crowd gave me a real boost," he said. "I've been out a long time, but the fans have given me so much support while I've been out and now it's time to start repaying the faith everyone at the club has shown in me.

"I was delighted just to get on to the pitch on Tuesday and to score was the icing on the cake.

"I must admit I felt the pace straight away and found it difficult to get into the game at first, but I have to take things step by step.

"I'm not expecting to play in the first team for two or three weeks. I know in my own mind I'm only 60 to 70 per cent and don't want to let myself or the team down. It's not a problem if the gaffer wants to play me because I'll come in and do a job, but I want to bide my time and be able to go out there and know I'm 110 per cent ready."