Posted by: Bescot Banter •


Following Bank Holiday Monday's Sky Bet League One match between Walsall and visitors Gillingham, Bescot Banter columnist James Rhodes shares his match report.
Following Bank Holiday Monday's Sky Bet League One match between Walsall and visitors Gillingham, Bescot Banter columnist James Rhodes shares his match report;

The Saddlers made several changes to the starting line up to the team that played against Carlisle on Good Friday. Craig Westcarr, who completed his 3 match ban following his violent outburst, was back, likewise Milan Lalkovic returned to the starting XI after his hamstring injury. Another change for the Saddlers was at left back; Mal Benning coming in for Andy Taylor, who was dropped to the bench. Other minor changes for the Saddlers were that Kieron Morris and Ben George were both left out of the squad after their previous call up.

The Saddlers kicked things off and early on in the opening 15 minutes had many attacks of which led to nothing.  Some of the attacks led to corners which also didn’t materialise into any goals. These were followed by a few Gillingham attacks in what was shaping up as another end to end game as was the case against Carlisle. Gillingham forced a save from O Donnell early on following a long range effort; this was easily held by O Donnell. Pressure from The Saddlers would continue and Gillingham’s keeper was less than convincing when dealing with the pressure on multiple occasions spilling the ball.

H/T: Walsall 0 Gillingham 0

Gillingham got the second half underway and as was the case in the first half many attacks from both sides were made making it very interesting early on and end to end. It would seem we were closer to seeing a goal and this was the case when a corner was delivered and was met by Butler’s head only for it to go over the bar.

Having become so close to opening the scoring finally the scoring was opened; a nice turn by Craig Westcarr meant he could flash the ball across the box to an unmarked Brandy who made no mistake in putting the ball in the back of the net having failed to do so earlier in the game with an open goal.

55 minutes: Walsall 1 (Brandy) Gillingham 0

Walsall continued to go in search of another goal keeping the ball well but Gillingham were defending what we threw at them to keep the scoreline at 1-0. The Saddlers earned a free kick in an advanced position and Milan Lalkovic drilled the ball to the edge of the box for Mal Benning to strike, only for his strike to be blocked and a Gillingham attack to be launched which was fired over.

Going in search of an equaliser Gillingham made 2 changes, one being the introduction of powerhouse Akinfenwa. With the changes made Gillingham were beginning to settle down and attack the Saddlers. The physical presence of Akinfenwa was evident as many Saddlers players ended up on the floor.

Both sides continued to attack and chances were in abundance, but the chances just couldn’t be converted by either side.  The Saddlers nearly went 2 goals up when a through ball was met by Craig Westcarr, who just couldn’t get enough on the end of it to put the ball in the net.

Dean Smith following some positive play from The Saddlers decided to follow Gillingham’s final substitute with one of his own. Introducing Michael Ngoo for Romaine Sawyers. We continued to attack and the man of the moment at Carlisle Michael Ngoo attempted to score from a tight angle, but it wasn’t to be.

It had been coming for a while and on 83 minutes following no challenge Akinfenwa managed to flick the ball onto Cody McDonald who hit home the equaliser with a cool finish.

84 minutes: Walsall 1 Gillingham 1 (McDonald)

It would seem all of The Saddlers’ positive play would be wasted and we continued to attack to try to restore our lead, but it wasn’t to be. Milan Lalkovic firing over after leaning back shortly after Brandy was substituted for youngster Bakayoko.

F/T: Walsall 1 (Brandy 55') Gillingham 1 (McDonald 84')
Attendance: 3,890 (323 Gillingham)
Referee: Darren Sheldrake, Surrey.

This for me was another game we definitely should’ve won and this certainly proves we are in need of a prolific goal scorer who can get the ball in the net. With this I feel a playoff spot definitely would’ve been cemented, but another one of our lapses has been our end of season discipline. Onto Stevenage now, who have nothing to play for having been relegated today.

By: James Rhodes.
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