Walsall 1-2 Yeovil Town
19/08/2014 - 15:00
Firstly, apologies for how late I am with the match report. I would like to put it down to wanting to take the time to dwell on what happened last night before committing myself to a report, but that would be a lie as it`s actually down to being too tired to care last night and being at work all day today. So, nearly 24 hours on, here goes.
A disappointing night resulted in the Saddlers slipping to a home defeat in a game that on paper looked winnable with the visitors having lost all 3 games up to last night, but on the night looked anything but. A lot of the emphasis has been placed on the players we had missing last night so let`s summarise just what that was. Having lost our captain and talismanic centre half Andy Butler in the summer we recruited James O`Connor, a right back to replace him, and moved our right back, James Chambers, to the vacant centre back position; both of these men were missing last night (even Butler was absent having remarkably managed to force his way onto the Sheffield United bench) resulting in our back four consisting of a player/coach who didn`t kick a ball in anger for the whole of last season, and an 18-year-old first year professional; a very talented and impressive 18-year-old first year professional admittedly, but the point still stands. Also missing still was last season`s Player Of The Season, Sam Mantom, new striker and former loanee Jordan Cook. The squad is also still missing fellow right back Ben Purkiss and another first year pro in centre back Matt Preston. All in all, we`re not exactly at full strength so perspective is needed.
We started the game similar to how we`d played much of Saturday, but with a touch more penetration if anything. We could have scored early on had Tom Bradshaw not wasted a header he had to stoop so low for he`d have been better off kicking with his foot. Ashley Grimes then followed up his two rash, erratic sliced efforts on Saturday with a rash, erratic sliced effort in the first half last night. It was another one of those efforts that was nearer to the goal before he kicked it, but he did make amends moments later getting the first shot on target on the turn, forcing a smart stop from ex-Shrewsbury stopper Chris Weale.
Despite that, at half time it did have the look of another goalless draw, and many were wondering just how long 'Saddlers 0` was going to remain burned into the new scoreboard. Unfortunately 'Yeovil 0` only remained on the other side of it for another few minutes as James Hayter planted a firm header past Richard O`Donnell following a right wing cross by Kevin Dawson.
At that point the game did look over, we just didn`t look like scoring. Amazingly however we did get back on terms following a goal mouth scramble from a corner with just 18 minutes to go. I`m not sure how much Bradshaw knew about the goal but he was in the right place at the right time for the ball to bounce in off him and trickle over the line, with Weale desperately crawling back trying to claw it out. Maybe this would be the catalyst for a winner.
And it was! Although not at the end we hoped as within seconds from the restart a cross from the other flank saw Dawson force the ball home to ensure the visitors took the three points back down the M5. There was a last minute penalty appeal which definitely fell into the 'seen them given` category. I can only assume the ref thought Bakayoko was looking to be shoved over when going for the header; personal opinion is I just don`t think he`s very strong and was genuinely sent sprawling when the centre half ran into the back of him. While I have every confidence Bradshaw would have scored the penalty (he looks a really good find), I`m not sure I could have dealt with the 'We`re still unbeaten and we scored two goals' rhetoric that Dean Smith would have undoubtedly given in his post-match press conference. Instead, we`ll just have to put up with him blaming the ref.