Saddlers host Rovers...
THE 2012/13 season began on an overcast but muggy afternoon at Banks's Stadium where newly-relegated Doncaster Rovers provided the opposition.
It was a disappointing start as Walsall fell behind in the fifth minute when a neat move ended with Billy Paynter's effort being pushed out by David Grof where Chris Brown was on hand to bundle the ball home from close range.
With ten minutes on the clock, a corner was half-cleared to just outside the area where Ashley Hemmings hit a powerful drive that was deflected away from goal.
The resulting flag-kick caused more problems for the Rovers' rear-guard and as the ball came back in, Gary Woods was put under pressure as Jamie Paterson fired into the side-netting.
The game was starting to develop into something of an end-to-end encounter as Rovers went close before the pace of Hemmings caused problems as he ran at the defence and then fed Paterson who curled his effort narrowly wide.
The Saddlers are playing some sharp pass and move football and looking the better side as the half went on. An inviting cross from the left by Will Grigg caused problems for the 'keeper before the ball was scrambled clear.
Despite Walsall being on top and looking the most likely side, Rovers were able to double their advantage totally out of the blue on 27 minutes when David Cotterill hit a speculative effort from just inside the Walsall half that caught Grof out and sailed into the net.
The visitors capitalised upon a slip by Andy Butler to launch an attack but the skipper managed to get back and block the initial strike as the ball rebounded out to David Syers who had time to line up a strike that was deflected just wide.
That second goal has knocked the stuffing out of the The Saddlers somewhat as we look to regroup and come back at Rovers.
The Saddlers won a free-kick when Grigg was fouled by Rob Jones on the touch-line and it proved to be a well-worked set-piece which set Cuvelier away on the right and he drilled in a cross that the 'keeper did well to hold as Grigg lurked in front of him.
There was another free-kick in the 40th minute when Chris Brown fouled Nicky Featherstone and the ball was delivered high into the danger zone by Hemmings but Woods managed to get his fingertips to it to deny Butler who was up from the back in an attempt to get his head on the ball.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 0 Doncaster Rovers 2
The first action of the second period saw Cuvelier embark upon a positive run that ended with him firing wide of the target.
A timely block from Syers then denied Paterson shortly afterwards as Featherstone did well on the left to keep the ball in and deliver into the danger zone.
The third goal arrived on 55 minutes when Kyle Bennett cut inside from trhe left and curled a sweet effort beyond the reach of Grof.
Adam Chambers went close with a header that Woods was able to gather.
There was a double change by Dean Smith on the hour as Febian Brandy and former Doncaster man, James Baxendale came on for Paterson and Hemmings respectively.
Brandy's involvement in the action lasted just seven minutes when what appeared to be a hamstring injury forced him off. George Bowerman took his place and he won a free-kick in a promising position just outside the area which Cuvelier fired just over.
Long ball forward out of defence picked out George Bowerman who in turn teed up Cuvelier for a strike that failed to trouble the 'keeper.
With the points in the bag, Doncaster played out the rest of the game without too many problems.
FULL-TIME: Walsall 0 Doncaster Rovers 3
WALSALL: Grof, Butler, Holden, Featherstone, A. Chambers, Cuvelier, Grigg, Paterson (Brandy, Bowerman), Hemmings (Baxendale), Purkiss, J. Chambers. Subs not used: Jones, Benning, Downing, Walker.