Walsall 2-1 Millwall
01/10/2016 - 15:00
The Saddlers bounced back from their abject showing against Scunthorpe on Tuesday night by securing a hard fought and much needed victory over last seasons` fellow playoff contenders, Millwall.
Despite the nature of our midweek reverse, there was no lack of confidence in the way the Saddlers started the game, getting the ball on the deck and spraying it round tellingly. However, it was the visitors who nearly broke the deadlock when, after a quarter of an hour, a free kick on the half way line saw Shaun Williams stop Neil Etheridge off his line, only to see his opportunistic lob come back off the crossbar.
Just moments later the Saddlers took the lead, Kieron Morris doing well on the left flank to get the ball across, where Franck Moussa got up superbly to head the ball back across goal for Simeon Jackson to volley home from close range.
It was hoped we`d be able to kick on from there, but the visitors had other ideas and were level just five minutes later, Fred Onyedina with a free header six yards out to convert Mahlon Romeo`s looping cross. The warning signs had been there already, Millwall had clearly done their homework, twigging that our big weakness is defending crosses and were doing their best to exploit it. With us losing the lead so quickly off the back of Tuesday night, there was a genuine fear that we could capitulate again.
Happily that wasn`t the case as we saw off the threat and got to half time with the scores level, giving ourselves a platform to build from in the second half. That building work took little more than 4 minutes, as in the 49th minute Jackson found his header from a Scott Laird cross foiled, only for Moussa to be there to smash in the follow up and restore our lead.
After that we actually defended very well and limited the visitors to very few chances. We broke with pace but were hamstrung by the referee deciding he wasn`t going to award any free kicks in Jackson`s favour regardless of how clear cut the foul was, while Etheridge was in his element with his gamesmanship winding up the Millwall fans. Despite the nervousness around the ground, we never really looked in any danger of throwing it away.
It was a vital win, and it does mean, despite all the hysteria of Tuesday night, that we`ve actually now taken 8 points from our last five games since the Northampton defeat. It does the highlight the dangers of over the top reactions on a game by game basis, but there is still cause for concern. When we turn up we`ve proven we have the ability to win games, but in about one in three games we don`t turn up at all and get battered. It`s been a while since we lost 'going down fighting` and that`s a habit we need to break. With next weeks enforced break for Internationals, it does mean by the time we play Shrewsbury in two weeks` time we may find ourselves needing to win to avoid dropping back into the bottom four. Win that local derby however, and things might start to look a whole lot rosier.