Walsall 2-1 Coventry City
22/08/2015 - 15:00
The Saddlers unbeaten start to the season continued as we ended our visitors own 100% record at a vibrant Banks`s Stadium.
It`s been a long time since I enjoyed a league game quite as much as that. Even when we battered Crawley 5-0 last April, the fact they were hopeless that night meant we didn`t really have to go through the gears in order to beat them. Today was different as make no mistake about it, Coventry are a decent side at this level and it was easy to see how they`d managed to string a few early season results together.
Both teams started brightly, but it was the Saddlers who were looking most likely to score with Sam Mantom having a long range effort well saved, and crosses flying across the box from both flanks with nobody connecting. The visitors, who weren`t helped by needing to make a 10th minute change, were doing their best to make a game of it with Neil Etheridge saving well from Murphy; Milan Lalkovic saw an effort cleared for the Saddlers, before Paul Downing did well to block Armstrong`s effort down the other end.
It looked like the half was set to end goalless, but five minutes before the break a clever diagonal run by Anthony Forde was picked out by Lalkovic who played him a perfect through ball. With just the keeper to beat, Forde slotted home with ease.
The goal sent the atmosphere up another notch. There`s been a lot of criticism of the Banks`s in recent times in that it doesn`t lend itself to a good matchday experience and it being difficult to generate noise, but nobody struggled today at the Saddlers were roared on by a strong vocal support.
Half time came and went and the game continued in much the same vein, Lameiras hit a free kick into the Saddlers wall (who`s new method of jumping up and down while waiting for the player to take the free kick is both strange and hilarious in equal measures), before we went down the other end and promptly doubled our lead. Lalkovic`s effort was only parried by the Coventry keeper, with Tom Bradshaw expertly firing home the rebound.
Our visitors were still battling away, and moments later Armstrong rattled the bar with a free kick, before Murphy fired home a goal of the season contender; picking the ball up on the angle of the penalty area and firing an unstoppable right footed shot which cannoned in off the left hand post. Worthy of being a consolation goal in any game.
The visitors were getting on top now and we were looking like we needed changes, with Dean Smith promptly made by bringing on Keiron Morris for goalscorer Forde. It had the desired effect as Morris gave us a different outlet and was instrumental in all that we did in the final 25 minutes, playing the ball in that almost saw Ricketts put through his own net, he then fired over himself with what was a difficult chance, and then in the closing minutes placed the ball wide with the outside of his left foot when he should have done better.
The game could be typified by the man of the match announcement going to Lalkovic. There was certainly no reason why he shouldn`t have got it, but it was certainly not a game where he was the only candidate. The bloke behind me swore it should have been Jason Demetriou, who continues to impress at right back, whereas for me I`d have given in Mantom. In truth it could have been any of them.
Next up is the distraction of Brighton in the cup before next weeks potential banana skin at Blackpool. I think we`ll do well to still be unbeaten this time next week.