Scotia Smith's match report...On a gloomy December afternoon, Walsall took on Bradford City. This was an important game for both sides with Bradford chasing promotion and the Saddlers looking to bounce back after a troubling week. Player of the season so far, Erhun Oztumer, was on the bench for this one.
The game immediately settled down into a cagey, tactical battle. Apart from an early, world class save from Etheridge, there were barely any highlights or chances for the crowd of 5148 to get excited about. The fans beside me were distinctly unimpressed and to amuse themselves, they picked on the assistant referee for a while. Total stalemate……
To everyone’s relief, the second half started in a completely different fashion. Both teams came storming out of the blocks and within 3 minutes Osbourne had put the Saddlers ahead with a low left foot shot from the edge of the box. He should shoot more often!
However, our joy was short lived. In the 52nd minute, ex-Saddler Hiwula, equalized for the Yorkshiremen, although he was fortunate to score a rebound after another great save from Etheridge. Both sides were really going for it now and there were more chances for Hiwula and Jackson at both ends.
The manager brought on some subs to go for the win - Moussa, Makris and Oztumer replaced Cuvelier, Jackson and Bakayoko. Then, the Saddlers almost won the game late on with a series of shots and goalmouth scrambles. It was not to be. The final whistle meant a point a piece in Walsall’s final home game of 2016.
In the post match press conference, the manager felt that the team had really given the fans something to shout about. We’ll definitely need the same spirit in our next two games at Port Vale and Oxford. UTS!!