Following Monday evening's televised Sky Bet League One victory over Peterborough United, Ben Durrell shares his Match Report.
Following Monday evening's televised Sky Bet League One victory over Peterborough United, Ben Durrell shares his Match Report;

Walsall welcomed  Peterborough United to the Banks’s stadium yesterday evening for their first league meeting of the season. Having won their past four meetings, the odds were stacked in Peterborough’s favour on paper, but given their recent slump in form, and Walsall’s reputation for giant killing, all was to play for before the whistle blew.

Peterborough were the first team to pose a threat on goal, when Craig Alcock thumped a right footed effort from 20 yards onto the crossbar, it can be argued that O’Donnell feathered it there with his gloves. Walsall then began to take a hold of the game, nearly finding an opening goal through the toe of Paul Downing, only to be stopped by Olejnik from point-blank range. The break through finally came in the 26th minute when the ever-impressive Sawyers fed through Lalkovic who battled his way past Mark Little and smartly slotted it into the bottom right hand corner of the net. 2 minutes later, the on-loan Chelsea striker found himself in a similar position, yet could not apply the same finesse to his finish. Walsall went into the break good value for their lead, soaking up late pressure from Peterborough to find a late first-half equaliser.

Westcarr could have fired the Saddlers 2 to the good soon after the second half started, after a defensive error from Peterborough saw Westcarr through one on one with Olejnik, only to be denied by the widely-spread goalkeeper. Although it can be argued the save was good, Westcarr never looked confident. The tables turned a few minutes later after a header back to goal by Andy Taylor fell short, and  Assombalonga squandered the resultant chance, firing a low left footed drive straight into the knelt-down O’Donnell. To add insult to injury, Walsall then doubled their lead as Lalkovic smartly evaded numerous attempts from opposing players to hack him down, before playing through Sawyers, who, with his first touch took it past his marker, and with his second, sending an unstoppable left footed drive straight across and past Olejnik into the top right hand corner of the Posh net. It was at this point the sloppiness became apparent from Peterborough players, again letting a Walsall player through one on one with Olejnik, who this time simply stood their to save a tame, poorly executed chip from Sawyers.

Walsall were now beginning to better their first half performance, having still had over 60% possession until the 70th minute. Attempting to bring down Lalkovic was becoming the theme of the night for the Peterborough players, this eventually resulted in a red card for Brisley for a second bookable offence, the first of which was for blatantly pulling back Westcarr in the first half. A 90th minute penalty fell to Ashley Hemmings after Paul Downing was yanked down in the box at a corner, Olejnik then saved this to keep the scoreline respectable, scrambling down low to his left to stop the Walsall winger from adding his name to the scoresheet. Given this, and the more relaxed temperament with which Walsall played their football in the final 15/20 minutes of the game, the great professionalism with which Walsall found their win, is unquestionable. The Saddlers played real ‘football’ throughout the whole game, making Peterborough work for their possession, and work even harder when they had it. Butler, Downing and Chambers had their usual strong performance in hands, but Andy Taylor was on another level. Defensively sound, and with attacking prowess of someone 5 years his younger, it could be argued he deserved the Man of The Match award.

As a spectator, you couldn't help but feel that Posh resigned themselves to defeat soon after the second goal went in.

F/T: Walsall 2 (Lalkovic 26', Sawyers 69') Peterborough United 0
ATT: 4,597
REF: David Coote, Nottinghamshire.

By: Ben Durrell
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