Posted by: Bescot Banter


Following this afternoon's victory over Carlisle United, Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton shares his Match Report.
Following this afternoon's Sky Bet League One victory over Carlisle United, Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton shares his Match Report;

There was a nervy start for Dean Smith's men when Andy Butler misjudged a bouncing long ball and allowed Miller through within the first minute. The striker's shot from an angle was parried wide by O'Donnell at his near post.

Walsall tried to respond to the early scare and Lalkovic fired well over from the edge of the area.

Manchester United loanee Tom Lawrence has been impressive in recent weeks for Carlisle and he went round three or four Saddlers before being barged off the ball in the box by Paul Downing, fairly according to ref Darren Bond.

Sawyers then had a go from distance which was too high, as Walsall had a few sighters before breaking the deadlock on 14 minutes.

It was thanks to the West Brom connection. Paul Downing's perfect lofted through ball was latched onto by fellow ex-Baggie Sawyers, who kept his cool to slot past the keeper.

Paul Thirlwell then fired well over as Carlisle pressed high up the pitch for an equaliser.

Meanwhile Walsall were trying to grab a second and came close when Andy Butler's flick-header flew just over the crossbar, from a free-kick on the right wing won by James Baxendale.

Then came the pivotal moment when Taylor slid in on the left to block the ball for a corner. To the shock of the home fans the referee pointed to the spot.

The ball hit Taylor's arm which was trailing by his side. It was harsh on the Walsall left-back but in fairness the block probably did stop a decent opportunity from being created.

Miller's penalty crashed into the midriff of O'Donnell but even then the match looked likely to be leveled from the follow up. Instead, with the goal at his mercy, Miller gave the Saddlers an early Christmas present by somehow side-footing over the bar from four yards.

Some gloss was taken off a good first-half performance when Craig Westcarr was forced off five minutes before the interval due to injury, a worrying sign with the busy festive period looming.

Baxendale cut inside from the left and struck a tame shot at Cumbrians keeper Ben Amos, as the teams went down the tunnel with only a single goal separating them.

And that one goal nearly became none early on in the second-half. Lax defending allowed Miller a chance to strike from an acute angle but luckily his effort flashed past O'Donnell's far post.

Meppen-Walter then curled high and wide after the ball had been scrambled clear to the edge of the D.

United were beginning to look dangerous, so it was a relief when Lalkovic showed why Dean Smith is trying to tie up a loan extension, with an excellent goal in the 66th minute.

The Slovakian cut inside from the left wing and beat a few defenders before curling a beautiful strike towards the far corner and in off the post.

After this Carlisle never look like getting back on terms, and were dealt a blow when sub Josh Morris had to be replaced due to a nasty clash of heads with his own teammate.

The final 20 minutes was a scrappy affair with no real chances for anyone. Things got even worse for Graham Kavanagh's Blues though when they were reduced to ten men.

Hewitt began to run onto a long ball over the defence and Meppen-Walter brought him to the ground. It wasn't a bad foul but Hewitt would have been through on goal and the defender had to go.

In stoppage time Hewitt tried to put the icing on the cake with a Lalkovic-esque curler, but it went narrowly wide and Walsall had to be content with just the two goals.

The Saddlers now creep up to eighth in the league and lie a tantalising two points from the play-off places.

F/T: Walsall 2 (Sawyers 15', Lalkovic 66') Carlisle United 0
ATT: 4,062
REF: Darren Bond, Lancashire.

Match Statistics can be found HERE.

By: Scott Brotherton
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