Walsall 0-2 Coventry City
05/01/2015 - 15:00
The Saddlers slipped to a second consecutive home defeat, and started 2015 with a loss in a match the visitors had laughably dubbed the M6 El Classico.
Anyone who watches the Saddlers regularly will know that playing a home game against a side in the lower echelons of the league table is usually a recipe for disaster, and so it proved in a first half where the Sky Blues dominated a lacklustre Walsall side.
Barely three minutes had gone when a trip by Romaine Sawyers on Jim O`Brien saw the referee belatedly give a penalty with the help of his assistant, who was waving wildly for a free kick instead. The reaction of the Saddlers faithful suggested the penalty was harsh but, while it definitely fell into the 'soft` category, the reaction would have been just as angry had it happened down the other end and not been given, so overall the right call was made. The Saddlers needn`t have worried though as Marcus Tudgay`s penalty was well saved by the legs of Richard O`Donnell.
The visitors only had to wait an extra minute though before taking the lead. A header clear by Paul Downing left O`Donnell slightly out of position, which allowed the quick thinking O`Brien to take an early strike and launch it spectacularly into the top corner from all of 30 yards.
Coventry had opportunities to strengthen their grip on the game, firstly when Tudgay headed against the bar, and then again when a right footed effort was superbly pushed away one handed by a full stretch O`Donnell. The home side struggled to muster a response and it was a relief to go in at half time only one goal behind.
It was a different Walsall after the break however, and we should have been level within five minutes of the restart when Tom Bradshaw connected with an Antony Forde cross to force an excellent save from Ryan Allsopp in the visitors goal who somehow managed to save with his legs despite diving the wrong way. Moments later James Baxendale was also denied by Allsopp, only for Forde to then fire the resulting rebound against the post. The woodwork was rattled again on the hour mark, this time when Michael Cain fired first time following a skillful flick from Sawyers.
The visitors had resorted to time wasting in an attempt to stem the tide for much of the half, to the point where if the 4 minutes that went up for injury time had been preceded by a 1 then they couldn`t really have complained. However, by that point it was all academic anyway as the Saddlers defence allowed Tudgay a free header from a corner with four minutes remaining to secure a win that on their first half performance fully deserved, although the Saddlers will feel aggrieved to come away with nothing from their second half efforts.