Saddlers sunk by Seagulls
The Saddlers travelled back to the midlands defeated yesterday, in a game which saw Alex Nicholls sent off for a reckless challenge. Debut boy Macken came off the bench to score a late Saddler consolation, on the back of Reid's goal on his debut a week ago.
Walsall were not without injury troubles, as Marshall stepped in for the injured Jones and Reid kept his place alongside Nicholls as Byfield recovers from a niggling Achilles injury.
The Saddlers went into the game on the back of successive 2-1 wins, hoping that their winning streak would continue. However, they could not quite find their feet and, despite passages of decent play, they failed to find their finish in front of goal.
The game started pretty even, with both teams lacking any real spark. Reid put the ball wide from a Nicholls cross, before Nicholls and Marshall both put the ball into the sky in successive chances around minute 16. Lescott was captain for the day, in Byfield's absence, and saved Saddler blushes as Brighton came close on minute 27. Some good passing from a Saddler corner from Reid, Taundry, Richards and finally Marshall was easily cleared by Albion. As half time ticked down, chances came and went for the Saddlers as they could not find their rhythm.
Just before half time Lescott was booked for time-wasting, a ludicrous Yellow as the Saddlers decided who should take a free kick, literally a matter of 10-12 seconds.
The second half started in much the same vain as the first, the away section fans was some distance away from the pitch, but they were not missing much action on the field. Lancashire did well on 62 minutes to clear a Brighton danger. Manny Smith blushes were saved on 56 minutes as the ball rattled off him and looked set to be a seagull goal, but the ball went straight into the post.
However, it took just 2 more minutes for the Seagulls to score for real. Ashley Barnes found space inside the box, and sent the ball home. The sun was shining on the Withdean, but the Saddlers could not quite follow suit.
Things got worse for the Saddlers a few minutes later as Alex Nicholls was given his marching orders. Confusion was abound as the linesmen flagged furiously on the side and Nicholls was shown the red card, leaving the whole stadium stunned. As reports came in, it came to light that Nicholls had kicked out in frustration. So now the Saddlers had an even bigger hill to climb.
Brighton put their second away around 10 minutes after Nicholls was sent off, Marcos Painter headed in a fantastic cross from Elliot Bennett. Jon Macken entered the field of play for Gray shortly after, looking to salvage something from the game.
And,on 90 minutes, Macken did exactly that. Matthew Richards kept the ball excellently from the half way line to find the feet of Macken, who sent the ball flying into the Brighton net from the left hand side. The Saddlers cheered from their end that the game ended on something positive.
So, it was a disappointing day for the Saddlers. Nicholls red card is reflective of Walsall's frustrations as they failed to find their punch we know they are capable of. We only have to wait until Tuesday for the next match, as the Saddlers entertain Chesterfield in the Johnstone Paint Trophy first round.