Walsall 2-0 Peterborough
28/12/2015 - 15:00
Table topping Walsall made it two wins and two clean sheets in two days, with a late win over playoff chasing Peterborough to remain at the summit of League One.
The Saddlers lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Jordan Cook and Milan Lalkovic starting up front ahead of Romaine Sawyers, with Sam Mantom and George Evans playing just ahead of Adam Chambers in the midfield.
Despite being made to change ends at the coin toss (something that really annoys me), the Saddlers flew out of the blocks with our midfield shape catching the visitors on the hop. It took just five minutes for the Saddlers to really threaten when Sam Mantom saw his effort come back off the post. However, despite dominating the early stages chances were at a premium, and the visitors were always a threat with the up-and-under hoofball style that will be entirely familiar to anyone who`s ever had the misfortune of watching the anti-football tactics adopted by any side to have ever been managed by Graham Westley. However, the first half petered out without any real goalscoring opportunities for either side.
After the break it was visitors who looked the better side, with Michael Bostwick coming close to giving Posh the lead when Etheridge let his effort go through him before Connor Washington failed to convert the rebound. The Saddlers stopper was causing further panic moments later when he failed to hold a slow spinning ball in a goalmouth scramble that the immense James O`Connor cleared away. However, having made the simple stuff look incredibly difficult, Etheridge then pulled off a top class save to push a Marcus Maddison effort over the bar.
At that stage I`d have taken a point as the visitors looked the most likely winners, however that was probably a side-effect of watching a Dean Smith side for too many years. Now we have a manager capable of engaging his brain mid-match and changing the outcome of a game. He did it with Jordan Cook against Port Vale, and today it was the introductions of Anthony Forde and Kieron Morris, both of whom provided assists, that turned the game back in our favour.
There was more than an element of good fortune about the Saddlers opener though which came ten minutes from the end; Forde playing the ball to Jason Demetriou who saw his goal bound effort deflected in off Miles Addison. It was the breakthrough, and the bit of luck, the Saddlers needed and it allowed us to relax more in the closing stages and even double our lead, George Evans firing home from a Morris pass.
It wouldn`t be right to finish the report without mentioning the colossal performance of Adam Chambers. O`Connor was given the sponsors man of the match and his performance was superb, but Chambers was everywhere and to me won it hands down; a true captains performance.