Saddlers back in winning ways
THE SADDLERS stepped out at a soggy Banks's Stadium for this pre-Christmas clash with Colchester United.
The ground staff worked hard in the build-up to the game to ensure there were no problems with the pitch and on a slick surface, Walsall started in a positive frame of mind.
With 12 minutes on the clock, Febian Brandy broke from his own half with pace before seeing his strike hit Kem Izzet and deflect narrowly wide.
The pace and trickery of Brandy was causing the visitors concern and he created a couple of half-chances before at the other end, a cross from Freddie Sears found Brian Wilson whose effort landed just wide of the target.
On 27 minutes Craig Westcarr linked up well with Brandy to set the diminutive front-man through only for him to drag his low strike wide.
With half-an-hour on the clock, Clinton Morrison broke through and lifted the ball over the advancing Aaron McCarey only for it to rattle the crossbar and rebound to safety.
There was an opening for Freddie Sears on the left and his angled attempt flew just wide of the post.
A spell of pressure from The Saddlers as half-time approached began with Andy Taylor's corner causing problems and hitting the woodwork as Westcarr tried to turn it in from close range. More desperate defending was required as Jamie Paterson and then a strike from Adam Chambers was blocked. Then Ben Purkiss had two powerful drives, the first was blocked and second flashed inches wide.
In the final minute of the half, Will Grigg's cross caused problems as it was scrambled clear before the last action saw Sam Mantom fire over.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 0 Colchester United 0
The second period started in as similar vein with Walsall on the attack straight away as Paterson's inviting ball found Grigg whose effort was saved well by Mark Cousins who then recovered to deny Febian Brandy from the rebound.
The U's were defending resolutely to keep The Saddlers at bay.
Just before the hour-mark, Grigg was replaced by George Bowerman.
The breakthrough finally came when Brandy held off his marker and confidently moved into the area before slotting past the 'keeper.
With 74 minutes on the clock, a curling effort from Bowerman crept just wide and then three minutes later saw the long-awaited return of Florent Cuvelier from injury as he replaced Jamie Paterson.
As the clock ticked down, Anthony Wordsworth dipped an effort just over.
There was a hearts in the mouth moment on 89 minutes when Cuvelier gave away a free-kick in the Colchester half which was pumped forward and Josh Thompson's towering header curled over Aaron McCarey's reach but hit the top of the crossbar.
In stoppage time, John-Joe O'Toole's strike from outside the area was beaten away by McCarey as the visitors pushed on for the equaliser.
It was not to be as The Saddlers deservedly took the points with a 1-0 victory. Merry Christmas!