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21:45 15th March 2016
By  Daniel Briggs


Tom Bradshaw scored his 17th goal of the season as Walsall edged past Fleetwood to move level on points with the automatic promotion places.

The Saddlers’ leading marksman made the breakthrough on 49 minutes with a powerful right-footed strike into the top corner.

The visitors, though, were indebted to goalkeeper Neil Etheridge for a string of fines saves, including a stunning injury-time stop from Devante Cole.

Victory moves Walsall up to third in League One, level with second-placed Wigan and six points behind leaders Burton.

Interim head coach Jon Whitney named an unchanged team for the Saddlers’ rearranged trip to the Fylde Coast.

The League One clash, which was originally scheduled for 12th December, had been postponed twice due to a waterlogged pitch at Highbury Stadium.

Fleetwood – unbeaten in their previous seven home matches – threatened first, with Wes Burns slicing a 25-yard effort well wide inside two minutes.

The Saddlers entered the match in high spirits after a morale-boosting 4-1 thrashing of Chesterfield on Saturday - their first win in seven.

Bradshaw FTFC A 460x345

And Mantom, Walsall’s two-goal hero against the Spireites, went close on four minutes when he curled a right-footed free-kick into the side-netting.

Despite sitting 19th in League One, just five points above the relegation zone, Fleetwood looked the brighter team in the opening period.

Ashley Hunter’s dipping half-volley was held by visiting keeper Neil Etheridge, before Burns unleashed a fizzing long-range drive which whistled just over the bar.

The hard-working hosts were moving the ball crisply and confidently, with the lively Burns their most dangerous attacker.

The in-form Bristol City loanee, with three goals in his previous four outings, fired harmlessly over with a well-struck 25-yard free-kick.

Burns should have done better ten minutes before the break, when he superbly span his marker on the edge of the box before blazing wastefully over.

Walsall were subdued as an attacking force and were restricted to just a handful of long-distance attempts.

Mantom, Rico Henry and Andy Taylor each had efforts blocked, while home keeper Chris Maxwell reacted quickly to pounce on a loose ball as Mantom was ready to pounce.


Walsall made a quick start to the second period and took the lead with a well-worked goal on 50 minutes.

Mantom’s cute backheel picked out the clever run of Bradshaw, who struck a rising right-footed drive into the top corner from ten yards.

Celebrations Fleetwood A 460x345

The wind was in the Saddlers’ sails and Sawyers went close to a second goal when he fired a right-footed drive narrowly wide from outside the area.

Fleetwood still carried a threat and went close on 58 minutes.

Burn nut-megged Chambers and unleashed a bending shot with the outside of his right boot but Etheridge made a fine sprawling save.

Walsall looked to give themselves breathing space, with Mantom seeing a shot blocked and Bradshaw firing wide from the edge of the box.

Fleetwood, though, piled on the pressure in the closing stages.

On 82 minutes, Cod Army captain Jimmy Ryan went close with a venomous low drive which Etheridge beated away to his left.

It was now wave after wave of Fleetwood attack but Walsall were standing firm defensively.

Neil Etheridge Fleetwood A 460x345

The hosts almost grabbed a dramatic point deep in added time, but Etheridge showed fantastic reflexes to push Devante Cole’s strike over when the net appeared destined to bulge.


Etheridge, Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor, Henry, Chambers (Kinsella 78’), Mantom, Sawyers, Hiwula (Forde 72’), Bradshaw.

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Lalkovic, Preston, Flanagan, B Morris.

Attendance: 2,569 (331 Walsall supporters).


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