Richards double fires Walsall to victory
Matthew Richards gave Walsall alot to shout about yesterday, as he gifted Walsall a victory with 2 fantastic set piece goals.
After the win against Fleetwood in midweek, Saddler supporters prayed that it would continue and their spirits would be lifted once more.
The team saw Smith drop out of the team, to make way for Butler, with Lancashire keeping his place in defence. The midfield was unchanged as Matthew Richards slotted in on the left and Alex Nicholls on the right. Jon Macken recovered from his injury in time to start up front next instead of Dickinson.
The game started well for Walsall as a whole with more positive and accurate passing and play, Carlisle however took the lead after defensive disarray, in a passage of play the Saddlers were dominating. Richards pulled them back as the game ticked down to half time with a well taken free kick, before adding his second with a perfectly executed manoeuvre from another free kick just after the break. As a tense finish unfolded, the team were able to keep the Cumbrians at bay and maintain the lead and the victory was theirs.
The game started and Walsall were able to maintain possession and string together some good passes.
Reid had a good chance early on, but scuffed his chance, the striker put himself in good positions at times throughout the game but fell short of striking prowess.
The defence was holding together well as Andy Butler and Jimmy Walker gave the back four leadership and stability, for Oliver Lancashire and Darryl Westlake to bounce off. Westlake impressed again as he improves his game and builds confidence.
Butler did well with a tackle as a carlisle danger beckoned. Shortly after, protests for a penalty were heard from the Carlisle end as Butler brought down Gary Madine, but play was thankfully allowed to continue.
Despite good work by the Saddlers, Carlsile took the lead on 28 minutes, a cruel blow against the run of play. As Jimmy Walker made an assertive save, the defence was unable to clear the ball and Mike Grella stepped up to fire the ball into the back of the net for a well taken goal. 0-1
However, Walsall did not let their heads drop and stayed strong despite Carlisle getting into the game since taking the lead. Just at the right time on 36 minutes, Walsall won a free kick to the centre of goal, just outside the area. Matthew Richards stepped up and fabulously fired the ball unsaveably to the right of the goal. The Banks's celebrated and Walsall were back in the game. The Walsall supporters were now seeing what they have been waiting for a long time. 1-1.
Just after the goal, Macken was involved in a slight altercation with the Carlisle boss, but soon moved on. The striker did not have much luck throughout the game with a couple times going down and not quite finding his feet.
The second half started much in vein as the first. The team pulled together and supported each other.
Richards then expertly put the ball into the net for the second time in another dream freekick. It came in a similar position as the first Saddler goal. Matthew Richards this time tapped the ball short distance to Taundry, then twisted and turned into a good position. Taundry then passed back to Richards and he drilled the ball low into the left of the goal. The players and fans went wild with this piece of training ground gold.
As the game wound down, it was tense as lots of action was seen in the Walsall area, but the adrenaline was pumping for the Saddlers enough to hold out for all 3 points.
A Carlisle danger was seen around the 70 minute mark as Jimmy Walker saved from Ben Marshall and Darryl Westlake was able to then clear the ball, with Mike Grella's response going well over the bar.
Macken was replaced by Dickinson as the game neared its end, with Grigg coming on for Reid shortly after. Grigg put in a few good moves for the time he was on, with a fantastic chance to seal the deal on 89 minutes, but it was saved by Carlsile keeper Adam Collin.
And that was it, three points were Walsall's. The display was much deserved and well worth the wait. Richards himself has battled on this season and has reaped his rewards. The Saddlers are still bottom of the league but a little bit more sun poking through the doom and gloom surrounding the Banks's. The game even saw few chants for Hutchings' head which was a boost for the team, with only a whisper of discontent after the Carlisle goal. Even 'we love Walsall we do' was heard! We only have to wait till Tuesday for more Saddler action, as they travel to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday.(KO 7.45PM)