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MATCH REPORT | Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 1
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MATCH REPORT | Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 1
MATCH REPORT | Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 1

MATCH REPORT | Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 1

9:27 pm Saturday, 13 February 2016  
On Saturday afternoon, Sean O'Driscoll's Walsall side travelled to Gresty Road as they took on Crewe Alexandra in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. Pete Sadler was in attendance, and you can read his match report below.
On Saturday afternoon, Sean O'Driscoll's Walsall side travelled to Gresty Road as they took on Crewe Alexandra in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. Pete Sadler was in attendance, and you can read his match report below.

Walsall travelled to the Alexandra Stadium this afternoon looking to return to winning ways after a heavy defeat to Millwall last weekend. Their opponents, Crewe Alexandra, have had an upturn in their own form as of late and looked to continue this hot streak.

As the Saddlers starting line-up was released it notably missed James O'Connor which meant Matt Preston came into the back four. Rico Henry dropped to the bench as Andy Taylor retained his left-back place with Milan Lalkovic returning to the starting XI. Tom Bradshaw and Neil Etheridge also retuned following injuries sustained against Milwall and Reading respectively.

The Saddlers flew out of the traps and looked to put the Railwaymen on the back foot from the off. The first chance of the game fell to Bradshaw in only the third minute as Romaine Saywers cut the ball back from the byline on the right but the Welsh hitman's shot was saved by home keeper Ben Garrett.

Barely a minute later it was Sawyers who found space inside area having been on the receiving end of some neat interplay, however he opted for placement instead of power and had his shot parried away.

Chances were coming thick and fast and Bradshaw was front and centre again; Lalkovic chased down a hopeful ball pumped forward down the left, which was cut back and crossed into the box, but Bradshaw's finish fired against the crossbar and was cleared away. All of this and we were less than a quarter of an hour into the game.

It would be unreasonable to expect the home side not to grow into the game, or for the Saddlers to maintain the level of chances they were creating early on; and so it proved. The travelling faithful had been here before and a little voice on my shoulder reminded me that we would rue this missed opportunities.

In the short term however things took a positive turn just after the half hour mark as Walsall were awarded a penalty after George Cooper handled the ball in the box. I'd have to say that I thought the decision was a soft one, but the away side deserved the lead. The spot kick was duly dispatched by Bradshaw although keeper Garrett did get a hand to it. 1-0 to the good.

The Alex sought to strike back straight away and there were a number of blocks and last ditch tackles around the box for the Saddlers to maintain their advantage. A corner from the left was met by the head of Cooper for the home side, as he looked to remedy his earlier error, but this was collected safely by Etheridge.

Halftime and a chance to reinforce the positives in the changing room for both sides. On the terraces however the away fans bemoaned the wasteful Saddlers in front of goal. At a rough estimate I heard that the Saddlers should have been about 4 goals up by the break.


As if to cheer the travelling supporters up, by proving them right in their assessment of their team the home side equalised in the 49th minute. A cheap free kick was awarded in the final third which was chipped into the box and deflected towards Bradden Inman who nodded home for his sixth goal in six games for Crewe. A bitter blow and certainly not deserved in my opinion.

For the next fifteen minutes the game went from end to end without a real chance of note. Either team could have scored or conceded and in fairness to the home side they at least did not park the bus, which should be applauded.

As news filtered through that Walsall's promotion rivals were all winning, added to Burton winning last night, it may have spurred the Saddlers on and in the last 20 minutes they really piled on the pressure.

Lalkovic seemed to take up the baton first and ventured forward on a mazey run before firing a shot goalwards from outside the box which was tipped round the post for a corner. Not to be deterred, the Slovakian winger popped up a minute later on the left and fed Taylor who fired high, wide and handsome.

Not to be outdone by his defensive partner, Paul Downing was the next can off the rank to fire wide, meeting a corner at the back post but passing the ball wide. A glaring miss that you'd back anyone else for the away side to find the onion bag.

Bradshaw was next up to try and double his tally for the day, as he was fed down the right by Sawyers, but his powerful drive from just outside the box was palmed around the far post by Garrett.

Crewe had their own chance to snaffle all three points in the 87th minute from a counter-attack. The ball was crossed in from wide onto the head of Marcus Haber but the tall target-man headed over the bar from close range.

Sean O'Driscoll finally decided to shuffle his pack with two minutes to go; Rico Henry and Kieron Morris came on for Lalkovic and Anthony Forde.

The substitutes combined to create the last opportunity of the game on the stroke of full-time. Morris ran down the right flank and fired a cross to the back post where Henry had sprinted into the box, but unfortunately he shot over the bar. A difficult chance it has to be said.

Full time and a disappointing result for the Saddlers. Most definitely two points dropped in a game that we were much the better team. Maybe the pressure and/or the workload is finally beginning to catch up with the boys as we come close the to business end of the season.

I've said it before but I feel that the positivity is starting to wain and I think this is detrimental. As for SOD the honeymoon period is over and it's time to earn his plaudits with points. Mind you, a win over Wigan next week and we are more than still in the promotion picture. Believe. UTS!

GOALS | Inman (49') - Bradshaw PEN (32')
ATTENDANCE | 5,123 (1,195 Walsall)
REFEREE | Mr. Darren Handley | Lancashire


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