Sorry Saddlers slump to defeat
Walsall lost 1-0 to Colchester today, in a game awash with missed chances and plenty of frustration.
Young hopeful Jamie Paterson made his full senior debut in place of the injured Richard Taundry in midfield. Oliver Lancashire dropped to the bench as Clayton McDonald started in central defence. Macken and Reid kept their partnership upfront, with newly fit Byfield on the bench.
The game started with the Saddlers dominating in possession, but produced no real chances on goal. A chance early on minute 10 by Marshall was put just behind. The ball came flying into the box a few minutes later, but Lescott could not quite get his head to it.
The ball flew around the pitch but any cutting edge from Walsall was absent. Most chances was lost, easily cleared, or was put some distance from the goal. As the first half moved forward, the Saddler fans were itching for that elusive goal to ignite the game. Westlake showed some good work on minute 32 as a Colchester danger beckoned.
The Saddler midfield were doing enough to retain the ball bit lacked the creativity to capitalise on it. On the stroke on half time, the Saddlers were lucky again as Colchester mis-kicked the ball right in front of goal.
As the second half kicked of, something had to change for Walsall. However, it was set to be just as frustrating.
Good work by Richards, McDonald, Reid on minute 59 saw Gray putting a weak shot in that was easily saved. A few minutes later, Matt Richards was shown a yellow card for bringing down David Perkins, with the free kick in a dangerous position. The wall did their job and the shot went straight into it.
Colchester again came close on minute 63, but the Saddlers were saved as the ball went over the bar.
Fresh energy was brought onto the pitch at 70 minutes with captain Darren Byfield replacing Julian Gray, making an attacking 4-3-3 formation. The striker was champing at the bit on the sidelines, itching to get on.
The skipper did not take long to take a shot on goal, as Paterson started some good work, the ball falling to Reid and Lescott, before Byfield made an attempt on goal, but the effort was saved.
Saddlers were lucky again a few minutes later as a Colchester effort went wide. Shortly after Richards took a shot from way out, on the sideline, but it was evidently a shot in the dark.
Byfield came close again just a few minutes later, but the ball hit the post.
However, on minute 83, Colchester grabbed the winner. Andy Bond received a Brian Wilson cross, took his chance, and gave the U's all three points. It was one of their only chances of the game but they took it and scored. Saddlers could only look on the the clock ticked down.
Tempers flared a few minutes later as Colchester took a reckless challenge, but the referee failed to make any booking.
As the final whistle beckoned Darren Byfield missed an absolute sitter. He took hold of the ball and expertly held it through the centre from the half way line, beating the U's keeper, but blasted the ball over the goal. Clearly disappointed, Byfield shared his intense frustration with all the Walsall faithful, it was simply not their day. At this point, the Banks's was starting to empty as Saddlers fans left in despair.
The final whistle blew and the Saddlers went home empty handed.
It was a hard game to watch with the Saddlers not quite gelling as a team. A player would get the ball, but their seemed to be no movement to get into space to receive the ball. The midfield looked weak, as Jamie Paterson showed immense promise, but needs to be stronger to push forward. The return of Richard Taundry will be welcome for the team. Reid and Macken are also talented, but lack the pace and guile to make the most of any chances. Byfield looked a lot fitter and sharper when he came on. All we can do now is look ahead to visiting Rochdale, one week from today.