THE SADDLERS stepped out in beautiful September sunshine for our latest home game against MK Dons.
Some neat inter-play between George Bowerman and Jamie Paterson just outside The Dons’ penalty area in the fourth minute ended with Paterson firing well over.
Florent Cuvelier did well to break away from a challenge just over the half-way line to find James Baxendale whose low cross fell to Bowerman but his strike was blocked.
There was a let-off for Walsall when David Grof blocked at the feet of Ryan Lowe and as the loose ball fell to Dean Bowditch, his effort with Grof out of position was cleared off the line by Ben Purkiss.
The Saddlers threatened at the other end moments later as Ashley Hemmings’ inviting ball into the danger zone was scrambled clear by the visitors.
A corner from Hemmings in the 17th minute caused all sorts of problems for the visitors’ defence as the ball flashed out for another corner which found Dean Holden who forced the ball home at the far post to make it 1-0 to The Saddlers.
MK Dons looked for an instant response at Bowditch got in a strike that cannoned off the post.
A sharp break out of defence by The Saddlers saw Hemmings lead the charge before finding James Baxendale who in turn fed Bowerman. He then set Paterson away to his right and his low cross was cleared for a corner at the near post.
In the 41st minute a peach of a crossfield ball by Florent Cuvelier set Bowerman off in chase as Dons’ ‘keeper, David Martin came a long way out of his area to win the ball from him, but as he raced to get back into his goal, Baxendale picked up the loose ball and found Paterson who tried to lift the ball home through a crowd of players who just off target.
As half-time approached, Lowe fired over for the visitors from a good position in what had been an entertaining opening 45 minutes.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 1 MK Dons 0
The visitors started the second period with purpose and Daniel Powell's low strike was well blocked by Grof before some superb defending by Holden denied The Dons in their next attack.
A free-kick right on the edge of the area for obstruction saw Ashley Hemmings well off target in what was very much an end-to-end affair with both teams looking lively in attack.
A mazy run from Jamie Paterson ended with him dragging a low effort just wide on 55 minutes.
Things getting a little heated in the middle of the park with The Dons picking up several bookings in a short space of time.
The Saddlers' first change of the afternoon saw James Baxendale replaced by Jake Jones. Baxendale put in a good shift and received a deserved round of applause as he left the field.
A corner caused problems for Walsall and as the ball bounced up from a header, Nicky Featherstone was on hand to head the ball over on the line.
As the clock ticked down, a free-kick for The Dons was half-cleared as far as Jay O'Shea who fired well over.
There was a booking for Andy Taylor in the 85th minute for a foul on Daniel Powell on the half-way line as he looked to launch an attack for the the visitors.
Richard Taundry came on for Ashley Hemmings with four minutes to go as he returned from injury.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Alan Smith was denied at close range by Grof and as the ball stayed alive the 'keeper made another block as the solid Holden also made his presence felt to keep the visitors at bay.
A third and final change saw Aaron Williams replace Bowerman.
The full-time whistle signalled a hard-earned and richly-deserved victory for The Saddlers against one of the fancied sides in League One as we extended our unbeaten League run.
FULL-TIME: Walsall 1 MK Dons 0
WALSALL: Grof, Butler, Holden, A. Taylor, Purkiss, Paterson, Cuvelier, Featherstone, Hemmings (Taundry), Baxendale (J. Jones), Bowerman (Williams).