Walsall 1-0 Chesterfield
25/10/2014 - 15:00
The Saddlers recently improved home form continued as we returned to winning ways against a decent looking Chesterfield side. A single Tom Bradshaw goal on the hour, his sixth of the season, was enough to seal the win and make it 10 points from the last five league games at the Banks`s.
We struggled to impose ourselves on the game in the first 45 minutes, with the visitors passing the ball with more pace and purpose than us, and generally being the better side. Jimmy Ryan should have done better than to drag his shot wide as the visitors broke two against two, and a header from Sam Clucas flew just wide after some good work down the left. In response Bradshaw forced the visiting keeper into a routine stop when his header, from an Andy Taylor cross, lacked the power to cause serious concerns. Elsewhere, Richard O`Donnell was taking the games dedication to the 'Kick It Out` campaign slightly too seriously by booting the ball out for a throw in more often than he didn`t, while Michael Cain was being dominated in midfield by the impressive Sam Morsy.
The second half began with the visitors continuing to do a passable impression of us, namely keeping the ball and looking decent in possession, but lacking the cutting edge upfront to make their domination count. We, on the other hand, were looking like a team that had both lost its way and the belief in what it was meant to be doing. Fresh impetus was needed as you felt this game was in danger of going the same way as the Crewe one before it.
That fresh impetus came after 58 minutes when Antony Forde came on to replace the ineffective James Baxendale. Suddenly the Saddlers had an outlet on the wing, and it paid almost immediate dividends when he started a move on the left, came inside and fed Cain who threaded a delicious short pass to Bradshaw who slotted home to prove once again just how badly we miss him in his absence.
From that point on the Saddlers controlled much of the game as the confidence came flowing back into the side. Forde continued to twist their right back this way and that, Sawyers found his fancy flicks and tricks were actually coming off, and Bradshaw, who picked up a caution for his goal, was managing to give both centre halves the complete run around. The return of Sam Mantom with fifteen minutes to go added to the feel good factor that was returning to the place, and fellow sub Mal Benning almost put the icing on the cake when forcing a smart save from Lee having danced into the box from the left touch line.
You always felt the visitors had one more big chance in them though, and it came in the third minute of injury time. A sliced clearance from the keeper somehow resulted in the Spireites attacking down the right and ended in Gary Roberts pulling his left footed effort wide when he really should have done better.
The win moved the Saddlers out of the bottom four and up to 18th in the table, and with only one home league game between now and the 13th December, it was absolutely essential.