MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Fleetwood Town 1 MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Fleetwood Town 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Fleetwood Town 1

On Monday afternoon, Jon Whitney's Walsall played host to Fleetwood Town in their penultimate Sky Bet League 1 clash of the season. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.
On Monday afternoon, Jon Whitney's Walsall played host to Fleetwood Town in their penultimate Sky Bet League 1 clash of the season. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Having lost the coin toss, Walsall started the match kicking towards the Tile Choice stand, and they couldn't have gotten off to a better start as they took the lead in just the second minute. A lovely pass from Jason Demetriou out on the right, finding Tom Bradshaw who superbly turned the ball into the roof of the net.

Six minutes in, the Saddlers were close to finding a second, Demetriou sending a fierce right-footed driven shot in from twenty five yards out. The ball flashed just wide of Maxwell's post.

Fleetwood saw little of the ball in the opening ten minutes and struggled to find their way into the final third. Very little pressure coming from the Cod Army.

Keen to extend their lead, the Saddlers continued to press. Demetriou almost putting Bradshaw in with an inviting cross, but Pond was alert and got his head to the ball to make a crucial clearance.

The Saddlers enjoyed long spells of possession, keeping the ball well and stringing together some lovely passes, culminating in a lovely shot from distance from Demetriou who found himself in acres of space. His shot hitting a Fleetwood defender and bouncing out of play to win a corner for his team. Conor McLaughlin was alert to the cross that came in from the corner and forced the ball out of play.

Walsall could have had a second from the resulting corner, but Chris Maxwell was in good position and coolly saved Bradshaw's headed shot that was directed straight at his chest.

The pressure was relentless from the Saddlers, Bradshaw keen to add to his tally as Morris sent a delightful cross his way. His headed shot was aimed straight at the waiting 'keeper who easily cleared. Fleetwood hoofed the ball up-field, where Etheridge came to clear, punting the ball back to the other end where Bradshaw saw another effort on goal, steering an angled drive wide of the upright.

Eighteen minutes in, Walsall won themselves another corner as they continued to put the Fleetwood defence under pressure. Anthony Forde sent a lovely cross in from the corner, which found Paul Downing who calmly dinked the ball over the 'keeper and into the roof of the net from close range. A deserved second for the hosts who dominated the early stages.

Twenty minutes in, some clever passing between Sawyers and Lalkovic put Milan in on goal, but his low drive was blocked by a sliding Nathan Pond to deny the Saddlers a third.

Cheered on by their supporters who were fine, Walsall continued to string together long spells of excellent passing play, keeping possession well and quickly dispossessing Fleetwood when they did find themselves with the ball.

Shortly before we reached the half hour mark, Kieron Morris played a lovely pass to Lalkovic who cut the ball back to Morris who was waiting on the edge of the box. Morris' shot didn't trouble Maxwell as it blazed over the bar. Some lovely play from the men in red though.

As the rain picked up, Fleetwood finally found some time on the ball, allowing Nick Haughton to send a shot in from twenty yards. Unfortunately for him, he slipped as he struck and the shot was an easy save for Etheridge.

Fleetwood looked brighter as they quickly regained possession, allowing Bell to send in a left-footed drive from distance. His shot always appeared to be going wide of Etheridge's post, but the Walsall 'keeper made sure, tipping the ball round his upright.

The resulting corner was cleared, but only as far as Jimmy Ryan, who fired a sweetly struck volley wide of goal. Much better play from the visitors as they sought to get back into the game before the break.

With little over five minutes of the first half remaining, Walsall looked almost certain to extend their lead, as Sawyers sent in a superb strike from distance. His powerful shot looked to be headed goal-wards, but caught Bradshaw and deflected wide.

The Saddlers were awarded a free-kick thirty yards from goal. Forde stepped up to take the kick, opting to send a powerful shot in which looked to be headed over, before dipping, forcing Maxwell to execute a spectacular one-handed save to keep his team just two goals down as we reached the break.


The visitors kicked off the second half and enjoyed a far brighter start than they had in the first. Within minutes, Fleetwood were forced into their first change of the day, as Stephen Jordan, who looked to be suffering following a first half knock, was replaced by Marcus Nilsson.

Antoni Sarcevic went close for Town, as he rose to connect with a lovely cross from David Ball, his headed shot just too close to Neil Etheridge who was easily able to hold. Etheridge was called into action again moments later, as Nick Haughton sent an overhead kick his way, the Walsall 'keeper able to gather.

The Saddlers, who started the half quietly, began to see the more of the ball and ten minutes into the half almost found a third goal as Demetriou whipped a cross towards Bradshaw. The striker unable to get much on it as it trickled through for Maxwell to gather.

With fifty-seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers found their much sought third, Sawyers with a lovely shot from distance, which dribbled along the floor and bounced into the net off the post.

The visitors responded immediately, bringing Eggert Jonsson off in place of Devante Cole and three minutes later, making their final change of the afternoon as Jimmy Ryan made way for Victor Nirennold.

With little over an hour played, Walsall went close to finding a fourth as Tom Bradshaw turned a Forde corner goal-wards. Maxwell executing an excellent save off the line to keep the ball out.

With twenty five minutes to go, Walsall made their first change of the day, as Kieron Morris made way for Sam Mantom, who was quick to get involved, sending a long-range shot in, which deflected allowing Maxwell to gather.

Both sides continued to enjoy some good spells of possession as the second half continued a much more even affair than the first. With little under twenty minutes to play, Town won a corner which was headed wide by David Ball. Better play from the visitors who continued to probe for an opening to get back into the game.

With seventy two minutes on the clock, Walsall made their second change of the afternoon, Jordy Hiwula coming on in place of Milan Lalkovic.

Fifteen minutes from time, a great challenge from Nilsson was enough to deny Bradshaw a shot at goal from a dangerous looking position. It did, however, gift the Saddlers a corner, which came to nothing.

With just six minutes remaining, Fleetwood worked their way forward, allowing Cole to curl a right-footed effort into the far corner from twenty yards out. A coolly taken shot but a disappointing goal for the Saddlers to concede.

Following the Fleetwood goal, the Saddlers made their final change of the day, Romaine Sawyers making way for Jordan Cook.

Just two minutes from time, the Saddlers almost found a fourth but Maxwell did well to get out of his box to clear the danger ahead of the onrushing Hiwula.

Fleetwood could have found a late goal themselves as David Ball saw his chipped shot turned behind to give the visitors a late corner, which was also saved as the ball came off the head of McLaughlin.

Four minutes were added, but the scores remained unchanged as Walsall finished the match with all three points, keeping their slim chances of grabbing automatic promotion alive.

GOALS | Bradshaw (2'), Downing (18'), Sawyers (58') - Cole (84')
ATTENDANCE | 6,628 (204 Fleetwood)
REFEREE | Mr. Tim Robinson | West Sussex
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