Writer: Robyn Richards
Date:Sunday February 13 2011
A much improved Walsall suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat at home to AFC Bournemouth yesterday.
The Saddlers spent most of the first half on top but did not take thier chances and the score level at half time. An early Michael Symes goal in the second half saw the Saddlers chasing the game and was enough to earn the visitors victory.
Richard Taundry dropped to the bench after Jason Price returned to the starting lineup up front, allowing Nicholls to drop back into a right wing position.
Early action saw Matthew Richards and Julian Gray exchange some neat passing, but Alex Nicholls was unable to capitalise on the chance. Jason price had a good opportunity just minutes later after more good work from the inspired Gray, but the shot went wide of the target.
Bournemouth hit the back of the net on 11 minutes, but scorer Michael Symes hand balled and the goal was disallowed by the referee. A relif for the Saddlers who did not deserve to fall behind.
Matthew Richards was solid throughout and benefited from the Gray and Gill combination. He set up Nicholls, Butler, Macken,Price and Gray on 18 minutes before the play eventually came to nothing.
The Cherries then came close again on 23 minutes when the ball came to the head of Adam Smith, the Saddler fans held their breath as the ball hit the underside of the bar and Walker saved the danger.
Richards was on hand to deliver one of his expert free kicks, as he chipped the ball to Andy Butler, but the defender was unable to get his head on it.
The Saddlers then came within inches of scoring as Jason Price smacked the bar and Macken was unable to put away the bobbling ball.
Nicholls missed a sitter before Macken headed over the bar. When will the luck in this match fall for the Saddlers?
Walker then made a great save on 39 minutes as he struggled to find the ball with the sun in his eyes.
The Saddlers went into half time the better side but with not enough to seal the game.
Saddlers were gutted on 52 minutes when a neat short corner from the Cherries saw the ball find Michael Symes, in a training ground special, who made no mistake of scoring for real this time. 0-1. A packed Walsall defence and goalkeeper Walker was not enough for the Saddlers to keep goal out.
This allowed Bournemouth to get into the match and Walsall struggle much more than the first half.
Liam Feeney was allowed through the Walsall defence on 55 minutes and it was down to Walker to save.
Macken teed up Mathew Gill on 59 minutes, but the effort fired over.
Macken was substituted for Will Grigg soon after.
Liam Feeney then again came close as he beat Aaron Lescott, but the ball went wide of the target. The ball then flashed across the Walsall goal but there was thankfully there was no Cherry to take advantage.
Jason Price was unlucky not to have earnt a penalty for the Saddlers after he was pushed over after good work from Gray, Lescott and Gill.
Richard Taundry then came on to replace Gill.
Matthew Richards scooped all 3 awards of Man of the Match. The midfielder was busy all afternoon and proved a very real threat to the visiting side.
Julian Gray was left frustrated as the clock ticked down after a clash with Adam Smith. The winger threw the ball away and was duly booked by the ref after telling him exactly what he thought.
At full time, 5 minutes were added on. Plenty of time for an equaliser Saddler players and fans thought. In the last kick of the game Walsall were handed a free kick in a dream spot for Matthew Richards to become the Saturday afternoon hero. The shot agonisingly smacked the inside of the post, bounced off the line and was saved by the Bournemouth goalkeeper. Oh! What if that went in. Robbed!
And the match finished in disappointment for the Saddlers.
A mixture of bad luck and Walsall not taking their chances in the first half owed to Walsall's downfall in the game. They were easily the better side in the first half but did not kill off the game as they ultimately deserved.
We look towards Tuesday's home game against fellow strugglers Dagenham and Redbridge.
Date:Sunday February 13 2011
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