Posted by: Bescot Banter


On Sunday afternoon Walsall Football Club travelled to Buckinghamshire to take on Milton Keynes Dons in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. Bescot Banter columnist Pete Sadler was in attendance and shares his match report.
On Sunday afternoon Walsall Football Club travelled to Buckinghamshire to take on Milton Keynes Dons in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. Bescot Banter columnist Pete Sadler was in attendance and shares his match report.

After taking a bit of at thumping only two days ago at home versus Swindon I have to say that I was thinking of taking the shorter trip down the road to watch our claret and blue neighbours. Needless to say I did not think that Milton Keynes would be my city of dreams. How wrong would I be proven.

I was still reeling from being stung for £7.00 (seven pound) for parking when the team was announced; Andy Taylor returning from injury in place of young Rico Henry and James O'Connor returning to the starting line-up for Ben Purkiss. Whilst there is an argument that after a heavy defeat nobody can complain about being replaced, I would contend that Rico has been great in the last few games and hope he continues his fine form.

With barely a minute passed on the clock Forde was brought down on the right-hand touchline and Walsall awarded a free kick, taken by Taylor it evaded everyone apart from Darren Potter (I'm told as the away fans could barely see it) who put it past his own keeper. 1-0 within three minutes, thanks for the belated Christmas present.

Unsurprisingly the home side immediately began to press for an equaliser, the away faithful 'welcoming' former striker Will Grigg whenever he received the ball, and there were a number of blocked shots and last-ditch tackles in and around the box from a number of Saddlers players. The next big chance however fell to captain Adam Chambers just before the half hour who broke up play in the middle of the field and broke away towards the goal before firing just wide of the right-hand post. The Saddlers went closer still on 38 minutes as Bradshaw went through one-on-one with the keeper but was forced just wide and shot straight at the keeper. Cain sent the lively Bradshaw through again on 42 minutes but the striker was thwarted by a fine save from keeper David Martin.

 HALFTIME  MK Dons 0 Walsall 1 

Half time and 1-0 up I will admit that I mentioned to my dad that I would have taken a draw if offered...maybe this was based on the Dons impressive scoring record or this was the second time in two matches where we have been the better side but failed to take all our chances. Maybe Deano mentioned this in his team talk.

Despite dropping deep to defend the Saddlers looked dangerous on the counter attack, exemplified by Sawyers finding Cook on the left-hand side who then cut inside and fired a shot just wide five minutes into the second half.

The home fans finally started to crank up some support and roused media darling Karl Robinson to introduce the Arsenal loanee Benik Afobe in place of Dean Bowditch after 55 minutes to add more firepower up top for the Dons. It would definitely be needed as the away side extended their lead shortly after. After conceding a corner to MK which lead to nothing the ball made it's way away from danger and back toward the home keeper's goal but a mix-up between the keeper Martin and centre half allowed the in-form Bradshaw to dance around the keeper and slot home with great calmness. The travelling Saddlers rejoiced, as did Bradshaw who was booked for an over-exuberant celebration. Kill joys.

On 76 minutes Anthony Forde was replaced on the left wing by Melvind Benning. The youth graduate made an almost instant impact for the Saddler, after being picked out by the magical Romaine Sawyers with a through ball his shot was saved by the home goalkeeper but Bradshaw was there to tap home from point-blank range. 3-0 Delightful.

Credit to the home side, they refused to give up despite the many number of their fans flooding the exits; both Afobe and Daniel Powell had chances in the area to reduce the deficit but headed and shot wide respectively. With the game tied up Deano gave a few minutes to James Baxendale and Mathieu Manset who replaced Jordan Cook and goalscoring hero Tom Bradshaw within the last five minutes. Slight chances at both ends failed to bring further goals but my head was already spinning with glee. Three away goals, three points and a clean sheet. Superb way to end the year.

It would be hard to pick out a star performer, the obvious choice would be Bradshaw for his goals and harrying of the back four, however I'd say Michael Cain was class. He really has grown into the role of midfield lynchpin and covered every blade of grass today. Confidence is clearly high with him and I'm thrilled the loan has been extended. The kid has a bright future.

I can't help but feel that the result could have gone either way, just as I did against Swindon, however a fantastic response from the poor result a few days ago, congratulations have to go to all the playing and coaching staff for that. Let's take it forward to a very winnable game at home next versus Coventry.

By: Pete Sadler.

 RESULT   MK DONS     0      WALSALL     3   
 GOALS  Potter OG 3', Bradshaw 62' & 77' 
 AT  Stadium:MK (Milton Keynes) 
 REFEREE  Mr. Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire) 

 MK DONS  Martin; Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Potter, Alli; Baker (Green 68'), Bowditch (Afobe 55'), Carruthers (Powell 68'); Grigg

 SUBS NOT USED  McLoughlin; Baldock, Flanagan, Randall

 WALSALL  O'Donnell; O'Connor, J.Chambers, Downing, Taylor; A.Chambers ©, Cain; Cook (Baxendale 85'), Sawyers, Forde (Benning 76'); Bradshaw     (Manset 88')

 SUBS NOT USED  MacGillivray; Purkiss; Flanagan, Grimes;
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