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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
21:30 12th January 2016
By  Daniel Briggs

COVENTRY 1-1 WALSALL

Tom Bradshaw scored his 13th goal of the season as Walsall came from behind to draw with fellow promotion contenders Coventry.

The Sky Blues bossed the first-half and deservedly went ahead through Chris Stokes' 34th-minute header.

Coventry had chances to increase their advantage after the break but found visiting custodian Neil Etheridge in fine form.

And the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy when Bradshaw volleyed home late on to rescue the Saddlers a point.

The result means Walsall stay third in League One, a point ahead of fourth-placed Coventry, and two points behind leaders Burton.

The Saddlers were unchanged from the side that beat Brentford 1-0 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

Coventry – the only League One side with an unbeaten home record – dominated possession early on but Walsall were defending resolutely.

John Fleck saw a long-range drive blocked by James O’Connor, and Liam Kinsella made a fine tackle on Newcastle loanee Adam Armstrong.

On 15 minutes, Armstrong span superbly away from O’Connor and looked to slip in Jim O’Brien but his pass was slightly over-hit.

Both sides were struggling to create clear-cut chances at a rain-lashed Ricoh Arena, but Coventry were showing more invention.

O’Brien played a dinked pass over the Walsall defence towards former Chelsea man Joe Cole, who couldn’t quite get the ball under control.

But Tony Mowbray's men broke the deadlock, nine minutes before the break.

Cole’s free-kick was flicked on by Armstrong for Stokes to nod past the helpless Etheridge from six yards.

Coventry goal 460x345

The Saddlers searched for an immediate equaliser and came within a lick of paint of finding one.

Bradshaw received possession 25 yards out, worked the ball onto his left foot and drilled a low strike against the outside of the post.

But Coventry, and in particular Armstrong, League One’s 16-goal top scorer, were looking threatening at the other end.

And just before half-time, the teenage striker latched onto Cole’s clever flick before firing narrowly wide from 20 yards.

HALF-TIME: COVENTRY 1-0 WALSALL

Walsall registered the first attempt of the second half, Romaine Sawyers firing a low effort wide of home keeper Reice Charles-Cook’s near post.

Coventry, though, had two good chances in quick succession to increase their advantage.

First, Etheridge scrambled across his line to turn away Armstrong's low 20-yard drive.

And then, Jacob Murphy's cross was pushed out by Etheridge but only as far as O'Brien, who side-footed wide when he should have scored.

Walsall made a double substitution on the hour-mark, with Anthony Forde and Jason Demetriou replacing Milan Lalkovic and Kinsella.

And the changes almost paid instant dividends.

Forde’s corner was flicked on by Mantom but Sam Ricketts made a crucial clearance, from virtually on the line, to deny Paul Downing a tap-in.

Paul Downing Coventry A 460x345

But Coventry continued to create the game’s clearer opportunities.

A free-kick from substitute Marcus Maddison was parried by Etheridge, with Armstrong hooking the rebound onto the roof of the net.

And Armstrong went close to doubling their lead on 71 minutes.

The 18-year-old burst past O'Connor and then shrugged off Downing before firing a low shot towards the bottom corner.

But Etheridge got down quickly to his left, making an outstanding one-handed save to turn the ball away.

It was a truly stunning stop from the in-form keeper.

And Coventry were made to rue those missed chances, as Walsall equalised with nine minutes remaining.

Rico Henry’s accurate cross picked out Bradshaw, who guided a wonderful left-footed volley into the far corner for his 50th career goal.

Tom Bradshaw Celebrations Coventry A 460x345

Both sides pushed for a winner in a pulsating finale.

Armstrong curled wide and Downing saw a shot turned goalwards by Jordan Cook but straight into the arms of Charles-Cook.

FULL-TIME: COVENTRY 1-1 WALSALL

Team: Etheridge, Kinsella (Demetriou 60'), O'Connor, Downing, Henry, Chambers, Evans (Cook 79'), Mantom, Sawyers, Lalkovic (Forde 60'), Bradshaw.

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Taylor, Preston, Morris.

Attendance: 15,671 (1,359 Walsall supporters).

    QUICK FACTS

    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.