On a bitterly cold afternoon, The Saddlers welcomed high-flying Oxford to The Bescot. The home team was looking to start 2018 on a positive note.
Walsall started on the front foot and an early Oztumer free kick was almost converted by Edwards. Then Oxford really came into the game. They had a lot of possession and a number shots on goal which Roberts dealt with superbly. Kinsella was booked trying to stem the tide.
GOAL! In the 32nd minute, slightly against the run of play, Oztumer took a quick free kick to Leahy who crossed to the far stick for Bakayoko to nod home.
Walsall made a change in midfield at half-time with Morris replacing Flanagan. This seemed to galvanise the lads and…
GOAL! In the 47th minute, Oztumer found himself in the box and with a defender bearing down on him, lifted the ball over the despairing keeper.
Then, Edwards, Dobson and Bakayoko all had great efforts on goal that were either well saved or blocked.
GOAL! In the 69th minute Walsall gave away a cheap foul on the edge of their box and it was crashed home despite the best efforts of Roberts in goal.
Oxford, backed by 1100 vocal fans, now pushed for an equaliser but found man of the match Roberts in spectacular form in the home goal. One save in particular was world class.
Walsall made more changes - Cuvelier and Roberts T. for Dobson and Oztumer – and managed to survive the remaining minutes of heavy Oxford pressure.
In the press conference, a delighted JW praised the team effort and his goalie and defence in particular. He also hinted at new signings soon. He felt this result would bring confidence for the two tough away games up next.
Carpe Diem! UTS!!