Walsall 1-4 Scunthorpe United
10/01/2015 - 15:00
Scunthorpe secured their second consecutive 4-1 win at the Banks`s Stadium in a result that, while being bitterly disappointing, doesn`t exactly feel like much of a shock. A match at home, to a team below us in the league, on the back of a heroic away win; why would we ever expect to win such a game?
Although for the first 20 minutes we didn`t actually start too badly. Shots on target were at a premium as has been the case too often in recent seasons, but we were at least attempting shots, with Anthony Forde dragging two attempts wide, and a right footed effort by Andy Taylor also sailing away from the goal. So it was a surprise when on 25 minutes a cross from the Scunthorpe left, aimed at nobody in particular, was stabbed past Richard O`Donnell by the outstretched leg of James Chambers.
Suddenly the game turned and Scunthorpe were looking dangerous; a free kick crossed in from the Scunthorpe right saw Paddy Madden have a header saved before the rebound was turned in. Thankfully the Saddlers were saved by the assistant referees flag. The second goal did arrive before the break though, as we made the same mistake we made in the first half against Preston by sending only one player to close down a short corner. A decent move from the visitors followed and ended with Jacob Murphy sending a low cross into the six yard box where Tom Hopper turned it in.
After half time the Saddlers again woke up, and it took just seven minutes for the deficit to be halved. A ball by Jordan Cook was laid off by Tom Bradshaw, and Michael Cain provided an excellent side footed finish to bring the home side back into the match. The game was now being played at a much better tempo, but there was still nervousness at the back. A free kick played into the box caused panic and saw the referee point to the spot after a foul by Downing, however the Saddlers were again saved by an offside flag that was already waving.
The warning wasn`t heeded however, and when Downing tripped the infuriating Neal Bishop just moments later, the referee pointed to the spot again. Madden blasted the penalty straight down the middle and at that point the game was probably gone. Two minutes later it certainly was over when Bishop got his name on the scoresheet, having got the better of James O`Connor and tucking in from close range.
It means we`ve now conceded 10 goals in 3 home games since Boxing Day, and is a wake-up call to anyone who thinks the Preston tie is done and dusted, as we`d have failed to win any of them even with the two goal start we have for the second leg. The defence at home needs sorting, immediately.