Chris Gwillam's match report on Walsall 1-0 Southend...A win during the week put Walsall in a play off spot and 5 points behind Burton, in an automatic promotion spot, with one game in hand. This game was important for the mighty Saddlers and you could feel the tension around the ground.
The Saddlers kicked off shooting towards the Wolverhampton University Stand, (away stand). Within the first minute of play Walsall’s Romanie Sawyers (10) kicked the ball but it travelled wide of the post. Over the course of the next 10 minutes United’s goalie, Daniel Bentley (1), was kept busy with a number of shoots by Walsall’s Anthony Forde (12) and Rico Henry (14) but neither of them finding the back of the net.
In the 23rd minute Sawyers was tackled and Walsall was awarded a 27 yards free kick, which Forde took and missed the target. Walsall kept the pressure on with a couple of long distance strikes from Sam Mantom (8) and Jason Demetriou (2) but United’s goalie saving on every occasion. Southend United’s Will Atkinson (12) received a yellow card in the 30th minute after fouling Saddlers Demetriou.
For the remaining time in the first half both sides played attacking football, with Walsall not giving up and putting pressure on Southend United.
2 minutes added time was added in the first half.
Half Time - Walsall 0-0 Southend United
The second half was end to end stuff but once again Walsall continued with applying pressure on Southend with a number of goal opportunities from Jordy Hiwula (31), Mantom & Milan Lalkovic (15), but every shot was consistency saved by United’s goalie, Bentley.
In the 70th minute Southend substituted Stephen McLaughlin (17) for Sam McQueen (20) and this change assisted their Glen Deegan (22) to take a long range shoot, however Walsall’s goalie Neil Etheridge (1) tipped it over the bar.
Just before the 75th minute the Saddlers substituted Lalkovic (15) for Kieron Morris (18).
Saddler’s captain Adam Chambers (7) received a yellow card in the 76 minutes for a foul on a United player.
Southend made another substitution in the 78th minute with Kevan Hurst (14) on for Will Atkinson (12) and within seconds McQueen attempted a shot on goal with Saddlers Etheridge saving it.
The 81st minute saw Southend’s Gary Deegan (22) given a yellow card for a foul and Saddler’s Jordan Cook (21) replacing Mantom.
Saddlers Demetriou and Matthew Pennignton (5) attempted to score but once again Southend United keeper saved. In the 85th minute Southend United substitute Tyrone Barnett (19) for Jamor Loza (23) and once again within a few second Southend went on the attack but Saddler’s Kieron Morris (18) fouling United’s Ben Coker (3) resulting in a yellow card and a free kick but with no end result.
In the remaining few minutes Walsall was given a corner which resulted in Hiwula striking the ball and it hitting under the bar and bouncing down in the goal mouth. For a spit second it was unsure whether he had scored or not but Keith Hill (referee) signalled that the ball had passed the line. Walsall fans cheered, screamed and celebrated with joy.
5 minutes added time to the second half but Walsall held on to achieve victory.
Full time score - Walsall 1-0 Southend United
Attendance 5372 (Southend United 428)
Man of the Match was awarded to Rico Henry, which I thought he deserved fully.
In the after match press conference Interim Head Coach Jon Whitney said that the players were “a credit” and “all outstanding”. A comment was made regarding Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp and his emotions and Whitney quickly responded with “Klopp takes after me.”
My overall view of the match was that Walsall went into the game buzzing, and came out even more buzzing for hope of promotion.