Andreas Makris provides the only goal of the game at Ray Hall Lane...Andreas Makris’s second goal in three games was enough to secure a 1-0 victory over Bradford City on Wednesday afternoon.
The 21-year old fired home the only goal of a the game after 18 minutes with a superbly executed volley from the edge of the box.
It could and perhaps should have been more for John Ward’s side had Franck Moussa dispatched his penalty kick midway through the first half.
There were second half chances for Will Randall and substitute Lezion Cela but the combination of good goalkeeping and last ditch defending kept the scoreline at 1-0.
The Bantams pushed for a late equaliser but a goalmouth scramble was the closest they came to levelling the scoring.
It means the Saddlers Development side now boast a record of 12 straight victories in all competitions heading into next weeks fixture against Morecambe.
John Ward named a mixture of youth and experience at Ray Hall Lane with Scott Laird, Franck Moussa and Andreas Makris all featuring from the start.
Despite a torrential downpour ahead of kickoff the home side were keen to set a quick tempo from the outset.
Jordon Sangha fired an early warning shot over the bar after some good work by Scott Laird out on the wing.
Neither side dominated the early stages of the game but the away side can feel hard done by not to have been awarded a penalty on the 12th minute.
Matthew Penny outstripped Sam Tonks inside the area before the Saddlers youngster went to ground in an attempt to clear the ball. There didn’t appear to be much contact with the ball but referee David Hunt was in a good position to wave away the penalty appeals.
Daniel Pybus sorted his feet out in time to get a shot away from the edge of the area but it tamely rolled wide of Craig MacGillivray’s near post.
Then came the pivotal moment of the game. Franck Moussa made life difficult for the Bradford backline and after they failed to clear the danger, Andreas Makris watched the ball drop onto his right foot and volley the Saddlers ahead from 18-years out.
It was a fine strike form the Cypriot international who worked tirelessly in what was quickly becoming treacherous conditions.
Moments later the Saddlers spurned a golden chance to double their lead. A corner form the left caused havoc inside the Bradford area and the ball appeared to strike a Bradford arm.
Franck Moussa stepped up to take the spot kick but was denied by a fantastic save by Joe Cracknell who palmed the ball away down to his right hand side.
Half Time: Walsall 1-0 Bradford
Another showering of rain at the break ensured there would be little in the way of fluid football on show for the rest of the game.
Both side’s did, however, continue to show plenty of endeavour with Pybus again testing MacGillivray from long range.
Will Randall showed glimpses of why he was brought to the club on the 65th minute mark when he weaved his way down the right hand side. The enterprising winger delivered a fizzing cross to the backpost where Scott Laird composed himself before seeing his effort saved at Cracknell’s near post.
The Saddlers continued to press and Jordon Sangha unlocked the Bradford backline with a threaded through-ball into the path of the lively Randall.
The Wolves loanee elected to shoot first time but this time it was Cracknell’s reactionary left elbow that came to Bradford’s rescue.
A flurry of second half substitutions saw the likes of Cameron Peters, Will Shorrock and Lezion Cela introduced to the game. The youngsters combined neatly on the edge of the box with five minutes remaining to allow Lezion Cela to curl a shot towards the top corner. Cracknell was beaten but the ball floated agonisingly wide of the upright.
There was a late goalmouth scramble when the ball was stuck in what was a boggy Walsall penalty area but after 3 or 4 attempts to clear, the Saddlers finally managed to avert the danger and see out the game.
Team: MacGillivray, Tonks, Cockerill-Mollett, Sangha, Laird, Moussa, Kinsella, Dobson, Makris, Kendrick, Randall
Subs: Peters (71’ Moussa), Shorrock (77 Laird), Cela (82 Randall), Maddocks (45’ Dobson)
Unused Subs: Ganley
Goals: Makris 18’