Posted by: Bescot Banter


Following this afternoon's Sky Bet League One defeat to Colchester United, Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton shares his Match Report.
Image; © 2014 Matt Vale
Following this afternoon's Sky Bet League One defeat to Colchester United, Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton shares his Match Report...

Dean Smith made a number of changes to give some of his fringe players a chance to impress. Kieron Morris made his full Saddlers debut while Andy Taylor, James Baxendale and James McQuilkin also came into the team.

Ever-present wingers Febian Brandy and Milan Lalkovic weren't even in the squad, showing how the manager is planning for life without his Chelsea and Sheffield United loanees.

In a lacklustre opening 20 minutes both goalkeepers were forced to make a save. James Baxendale's sweetly struck effort from the edge of the box was beaten away by Sam Walker and ten minutes later United's Gavin Massey shot from a similar position, drawing an equally good stop from Richard O'Donnell at full stretch.

Morris then cut inside from the left and the U's keeper got well behind his low drive.

But Walker didn't take the next one quite as convincingly. Sam Mantom hit one hard and low and, even though it was straight at him, the Colchester stopper spilled it and needed to pounce on the loose ball.

Obviously encouraged by this, Morris sent in a vicious effort in first-half added time and got the same result. The ball squirmed out of Walker's grasp again and he had to collect at the second attempt.

The first period was very pedestrian with the feel of a training exercise. Walsall didn't put Walker's handling under enough pressure and neither team really looked like scoring.

H/T: Walsall 0 Colchester United 0

Eight minutes into the second half Colchester did break the deadlock though, and it was a bizarre goal which summed up the Saddlers in recent weeks.

James Chambers' defensive clearance cannoned into midfielder Craig Eastmond, and the ricochet took the ball past a despairing O'Donnell into the bottom left corner.

Mantom replied with a few off-target attempts from distance before Joe Dunne's side decided to drop deep for the final half an hour.

Baxendale had his shot charged down by several Colchester bodies as Walsall were finally starting to look like a threat.

Adam Chambers then had a shot blocked and Taylor's effort just missed the top right corner, as United were clearly doing their utmost to preserve the clean sheet.

Andy Butler of all people then darted into the area next but he was pushed wide and the keeper charged the Saddlers captain down on the touchline, eventually conceding the corner.

Substitute Amadou Bakayoko came the closest yet to his first senior goal with three minutes to go. The teenage forward persevered and was able to capitalise on a mix up between defender and goalkeeper, poking the ball towards the empty net from the right of the box. Luckily for the U's, their defenders were chasing back and managed to hack the ball away.

A pair of pitch invaders followed. They came from the Tile Choice stand and were carrying a flag of some sort which no one could read (a shame: I'm sure it was a very though-provoking message). At least it raised a chuckle among the otherwise muted home support when the more slippery one of the two was apprehended by stewards.

The largely ineffective Craig Westcarr curled over the crossbar in the dying minutes and even O'Donnell got involved with a corner at the death, but even with three strikers on the field Walsall could not score.

F/T: Walsall 0 Colchester United 1 (Eastmond 54')

Attendance: 4,271 (335)
Referee: David Webb, County Durham.

It was a flat game between two teams playing for pride and this sixth game without a win completes a very poor end to the campaign for the Saddlers.

By: Scott Brotherton.

Today's header image is provided by Walsall fan Matt Vale. If you have an image you'd like to share your Saddlers pictures, send them to [email protected].
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