Writer: Robyn Richards
Date:Saturday February 19 2011
Walsall had the opportunity to escape the relegation zone today but a dispirit performance in Essex extended their stay.
The Saddlers started well but were felled by another corner in the first half and a suspicious penalty in the second. Walsall improving but the U`s showed they were a cut above for most of the game.
Walker was put into action from the off as Colchester won an early corner, David Mooney found space and the veteran goalkeeper saved the chance.
Saddlers hearts stopped momentarily on 4 minutes as the communication in the defence fell to pieces and Oliver Lancashire looked to head into his own net, but the ball smacked the bar and bounced back out (thank god) and the subsequent Colchester shot went wide of the target.
Good play by the visitors gave the Walsall faithful reason to believe as good passing across the midfield was played out but no real chances on goal came to fruition.
Julian Gray had a magnificent chance on 15 minutes after being set up by Matthew Richards, but the chance was saved.
However, on 17 minutes and against the run of play, the home side took the lead. Saddler fans know to be a little extra worried when they concede a corner and today was no different. The ball came in, not cleared and came to David Perkins to fire home. 1-0 and devastating to the desperate Saddlers.
Walsall went onto the backfoot somewhat as Colchester saw more of the ball and made hardwork for the Saddlers.
Kayode Odejayi tested Lancashire on 28 minutes but the improving Westlake saved his skin.
Some neat passing was again played out across the midfield but the ball was easily cleared away. The crowd were restless and becoming frustrated that the Dean Smith honeymoon period is well over.
They went into half time just 1-0 down as Lescott executed a weak back pass in front of goal but thankfully a Colchester danger went wide of the target.
A shakeup at half time was needed to revive the game. One goal for the visitors and the game would be completely different.
The second half started with Matthew Richards taking a free kick in an ideal position, but the ball went just high of the target. Walker then came off his line as Kayode Odejayi preyed again and it took an heroic head of the line by Andy Butler to prevent an almost certain goal.
It was only to get worse for the Saddlers as Aaron Lescott was adjudged to bring down Ian Henderson in a dubious penalty decision on 55 minutes. Matt Richards was then questionably booked for his protests at the decision. David Mooney stepped up to make it 2-0.
From then on Walsall were the weaker and showed little sign of the rigour and intent to get them back on track.
Price came on for the disappointing Alex Nicholls on 60 minutes.
Mathew Gill, making his last appearance for the Saddlers before returning to Norwich City, then almost knocked himself out of the post as he saved a Kem Izett danger, the midfielder was thankfully treated by the physio and continued playing.
Jon Macken then made way for Will Grigg.
ans expressed their frustration at the lack of firepower shown by the forwards.
Jason Price disappointed as lots of balls were fed towards the Colchester goal but on too many occasions the Carlisle United loanee trotted to the ball when he should have sprinted.
Colchester had a free kick on 72 minutes and David Mooney looked to extend the lead and Richard Taundry came close to getting an own goal, but Walker was on hand to save the danger. Andy Butler then made another courageous clearance off the line from Kayode Odejay.
Mathew Gill bowed out on 75 minutes to make way for Paul Marshall. The midfielder will be sorely missed and no doubt Dean Smith will be doing everything to get him back to the Banks`s.
A few chances for both teams saw out the end of the match and defeat for the Saddlers and clean sheet for Colchester was sealed.
It was a disappointing day for the Saddlers and the high from the departure of Chris Hutchings has now completely deflated. Walsall looked bright and energetic but coild not quite overthrow 10th placed Colchester. The Saddlers remain 3rd bottom in the table and they march on to to pull themselves out of their situation with hard work, positive play and a stroke of luck.
We now look towards Rochdale at home next week.
Date:Saturday February 19 2011
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