Posted by: Bescot Banter


Following Tuesday evening's Sky Bet League One encounter between Walsall and Crewe Alexandra, Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton shares his Match Report.
Following Tuesday evening's Sky Bet League One encounter between Walsall and Crewe Alexandra, Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton shares his Match Report;

Dean Smith brought Craig Westcarr back into the side and dropped Milan Lalkovic to the bench for the contest, seemingly resting the Slovakian speedster.

The match had a cagey start as the two out of form sides didn't have a shot between them in the first 15 minutes.

Febian Brandy finally got the first strike away and it took a looping deflection for a corner.

The diminutive little winger then saw his long range effort ricochet into the path of Westcarr, but the striker's shot on the turn was blocked.

A good chance came around the half hour when Andy Butler headed Andy Taylor's ball just over the crossbar after a clever short corner caught Crewe off guard.

A few minutes before half-time the Alex finally had a shot on target themselves when Chuks Aneke broke free and rolled his weak shot straight at Richard O'Donnell.

It was a drab first period and Crewe were excellent defensively, stifling Walsall with their organised shape and intense pressing. The Saddlers weren't helping themselves though and there wasn't enough movement when moving the ball around the pitch.

H/T: Walsall 0 Crewe Alexandra 0

Things could hardly get more boring in the second half and five minutes in Brandy's cross dropped to Westcarr who hooked the ball over on the stretch.

But any optimism was soon dashed as Aneke put the Alex into the lead.

Matt Tootle's low shot was blocked by the defence but, with O'Donnell having already dived in anticipation, the goal was gaping when it fell to on-loan Arsenal forward Aneke and he calmly stroked home.

It was a kick in the teeth for Walsall as Crewe's counter-attacking strategy was paying dividends.

They still showed little in the way of improvement though until substitute Michael Ngoo struck the post only a couple of minutes after coming on.

The giant striker on-loan from Liverpool twisted and turned to fashion a chance in the box but the angle was tight and the ball smacked the woodwork from six yards.

Steve Davis' men could easily have had a second though when Mathias Pogba scuffed a tricky first-time shot wide from a good position in the area.

James McQuilkin got a rare appearance from the bench, perhaps highlighting how Deano was running out of ideas, but the midfielder nearly made a name for himself with a shot from 25 yards which fizzed narrowly wide.

Then came the slice of fortune that gave the Saddlers a point. From a seemingly harmless near post cross Crewe centre-half Mark Ellis somehow managed to send a stooping header past his own keeper and throw away a vital three points.

In a crazy four added minutes Walsall could have won it themselves as Lalkovic's long distance piledriver crashed off the underside of the bar.

Alexandra survived the late onslaught though and it looks increasingly unlikely that the Saddlers will trouble the play-off contenders.

F/T: Walsall 1 (Ellis OG 90') Crewe Alexandra 1 (Aneke 51')
Attendance: 3,777 (337 Crewe)
Referee: Tony Harrington, Cleveland.

By: Scott Brotherton.
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