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Match Reports

Walsall v Chesterfield

7 March 2017

WALSALL 1-0 CHESTERFIELD

Scott Laird scored the only goal as we extended our winning home run to six matches with a deserved victory over relegation-threatened Chesterfield. 

The key moment came nine minutes into the second half when Joe Edwards' corner was flicked on by James O’Connor and tapped in by Laird from close range. 

The Saddlers would have won far more comfortably but for the goalkeeping heroics of Thorsten Stuckmann, who made fine saves to thwart Kieron Morris, Simeon Jackson and Erhun Oztumer. 

Gary Caldwell’s Spireites barely threatened, with home keeper Neil Etheridge a spectator for the most part.

Jon Whitney’s men are up to eighth in League One, six points adrift of the play-offs. 

The Saddlers, who were unchanged from the weekend win over Oldham, showed the greater attacking intent in a quiet opening. 

Isaiah Osbourne curled over after being teed up by Jason McCarthy, while a Jackson shot on the turn lacked sufficient power to seriously trouble Stuckmann. 

Midway through the half, a Morris drive ricocheted into the path of Osbourne but Stuckmann smothered the ball bravely at his feet. 

Struggling Chesterfield’s first meaningful opportunity came just past the half-hour, Kristian Dennis turning and shooting straight into Etheridge’s midriff from the corner of the box. 

Walsall responded with Oztumer firing off target following a neat passing move involving Eoghan O’Connell and Morris, who was next to threaten. 

The homegrown midfielder brilliantly tricked his way past a defender before curling a left-footed, 20-yard effort towards the bottom corner which Stuckmann turned away one-handed. 

Stuckmann thwarted the hosts again just before half-time, the former Preston stopper making an excellent near-post stop to keep out Jackson’s fierce low strike. 

Half-time: Walsall 0-0 Chesterfield 

Having enjoyed the better of the first half, the Saddlers took the lead nine minutes into the second. 

A long-range attempt from Morris deflected behind, and from the resulting corner, Edwards' delivery was flicked on by O’Connor and turned home by Laird at the back post. 

The home side immediately looked to increase the lead, with Osbourne steering a well-struck left-footer inches wide of the far upright. 

Only the reflexes of the excellent Stuckmann denied the Saddlers a second goal on 65 minutes as he got down smartly to palm another Morris effort around the post. 

The Saddlers were thoroughly dominant and Oztumer almost made it 2-0 when he drove towards the box and drilled a powerful shot, with his weaker right foot, a fraction wide. 

Oztumer went close again with seven minutes remaining as his curling left-footed free-kick was parried by Stuckmann at full stretch. 

The visitors finally began to threaten in the closing stages, but Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s miss-hit volley and Sam Hird’s looping header were both easy for Etheridge to gather. 

Substitute George Dobson should really have killed the game off in the final minute of normal time, but the West Ham loanee curled wide with the goal at his mercy. 

Full-time: Walsall 1-0 Chesterfield 

Team: Etheridge, O’Connor, O’Connell, Laird, McCarthy, Chambers, Morris (Dobson 77’), Osbourne, Edwards, Oztumer (Makris 84’), Jackson (Bakayoko 58’). 

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Preston, Randall, Moussa. 

Attendance: 3,963 (188 Chesterfield supporters).

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