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Match Reports


28 December 2015

Match Reports


28 December 2015


Walsall stayed top of League One after late goals from Jason Demetriou and George Evans secured victory over promotion-rivals Peterborough.

Sam Mantom rattled a post for the Saddlers early on, while in-form Posh striker Conor Washington twice went close.

The hosts went ahead on 81 minutes through Demetriou's deflected strike and Evans then poked home to seal a fifth consecutive league win.

Walsall have now won all three matches under head coach Sean O'Driscoll and remain top of League One heading into 2016.

O’Driscoll made two changes to the side that won at Millwall.

Mantom and Jordan Cook came into a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Anthony Forde and Kieron Morris dropping out.

And it was the returning Mantom who came within a post’s width of opening the scoring after just five minutes.

The ex-West Brom midfielder received possession 20 yards out and drilled a firm left-footed drive against the base of the upright.

Peterborough's first attempt came on nine minutes, Christopher Forrester testing Saddlers keeper Neil Etheridge with a fierce long-range strike.

The hosts suffered a blow early on, with centre-back Paul Downing forced off through illness and being replaced by Matt Preston.

Despite that setback, Walsall looked the more threatening in a lively first-half.

Lalkovic – our match-winner against Millwall on Boxing Day - tested Posh stopper Ben Alnwick with an ambitious effort from range.

The visiting custodian was called into action again shortly after, making a smart reaction save at his near post to deny Cook.

Romaine Sawyers also saw an effort blocked and Evans fired over from 25 yards after tricky wing-play from the lively Lalkovic.

Mantom then combined well with Cook before shooting off target from the edge of the box.

Fifth-placed Peterborough were dangerous on the break and almost took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Michael Smith's inviting right-wing cross was met with a powerful header from Washington but Etheridge produced an instinctive tip-over save.


The visitors came flying out of the blocks for the second-half and went close on 48 minutes.

Michael Bostwick's thunderous cross-shot was parried by Etheridge, with James O'Connor then clearing Lee Angol's follow-up header off the line.

Graham Westley's in-form side threatened again two minutes later.

Washington – with 11 goals in his previous 11 matches – controlled a long ball, swivelled and steered an angled drive inches wide of the far post.

Against the run of play, Walsall had penalty appeals waved away when Lalkovic went down under a challenge from Miles Addison.

But the Saddlers were again indebted to Etheridge just past the hour mark, as he dived full length to flick over Maddison’s curling strike.

The home side had been subdued at the start of the second period but began to offer more of a threat.

Lalkovic's deflected shot looped into the arms of Alnwick and Mantom curled a 25-yard effort wide.

But Peterborough - searching for their first victory over Walsall since 2011 - should really have taken the lead on 72 minutes.

Etheridge's punched clearance fell to Harry Beautyman, who saw a low drive blocked on the line by O’Connor, before Jon Taylor blazed over.

With an absorbing encounter seemingly heading for a goalless draw, Walsall made the breakthrough, nine minutes from time.

A swift counter-attack saw Forde - introduced as a substitute just moments earlier - find the marauding Demetriou on the overlap.

Demetriou steadied himself before unleashing a low drive which deflected off Addison and flew past the wrong-footed Alwnick.

With the wind in their sails, Walsall pushed for a killer second goal.

Lalkovic cut in from the left but was denied by Alnwick, who then kept out Forde's follow-up, before Cook hooked over.

But the Saddlers wrapped up the three points in the closing stages.

Substitute Morris, who had been on the pitch barely a minute, skipped to the byline and cut the ball back for the stretching Evans to poke home.


Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, O’Connor, Downing, Taylor, Chambers, Evans, Mantom, Sawyers, Lalkovic, Cook.

Subs not used: Roberts, Baxendale, Forde, Henry, Preston, Morris, Kinsella.

Attendance: 6,142 (1,045 Peterborough supporters).

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