A late goal ended all chances of a late comeback for Walsall who fell to another defeat at home to Bolton Wanderers.
After an even start to the game the first chance fell to the visitors Bolton with Zach Hedge making a fine low save down to his left to send the ball out for a corner.
The travelling side forced another set of fine saves out of Hedge after a ball over the top left Walsall running back towards their own goal. Bolton looked to counter on the corner maintaining pressure to win a second corner in quick succession, but Hedge was their once again to claim the ball and give his side a bit of respite from the Bolton pressure.
Ten minutes before half time, Bolton failed to take their clearest chance of the game after Walsall left Leo Graham unmarked at the back post, the forward squared the ball to Danny Jones who failed to make contact with the goal at his mercy.
Walsall found themselves a goal down within minutes of the restart as Wes Frimpong crossed the ball to Khalon Haysman. The number 10 was able to slide the ball back across Hedge in the home side’s net to put Bolton ahead.
The visitors again threatened to double their lead just after the hour mark, but Hedge was again in fine form to scramble across his goal to deny another tap in at the back post.
As the second half went on, the home side were able to get the ball down and settle in possession slightly, but still came under intense pressure from the Bolton forward line.
On the 75th minute mark, Bolton had an even clearer chance to take the lead with a wide open goal for Haysman to slide the ball in from two yards. However, Tom Cox was able to get back and clear the ball away from the Bolton forward to keep Walsall in the game.
Bolton continued to press for a second goal as substitute Harrison Fleury sent the ball past Walsall’s stranded substitute goalkeeper George Barrett, after Hedge came off injured. The ball found its way onto the post and the Saddlers were able to clear the ball and keep the chances of a late leveller alive.
The best of these chances came in the 85th minute from a free-kick put into the penalty area by Jack Shaw. Cailen Beckford latched onto the ball at the far post but was only able to direct the ball narrowly past the post.
Despite a late effort for an equaliser, the home side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat as a second goal was scored by Yestin Shakespear with the last kick of the game.
Professional Development Phase Coach Ben King was frustrated the team didn’t take something from the game but was pleased with the effort they put in, particularly after an encouraging first half.
“Going in at half time, with it 0-0, we were pretty happy,” King said.
“It was quite scrappy at times but we were pleased with the battling and the fighting, there were a couple chances either way.
“But we came out to the second half and just conceded a soft goal. What was nice is that we didn’t fall apart off the back of that, we stayed strong and kept working hard. The second goal was right at the end of the game and when you’re 1-0 down in a game, you’ve got to push and try make something of it.
“If it’s 1-0 or 2-0 loss it’s the same thing, isn’t it so we tried to push our wingers a lot higher to try and get something out the game.
“Overall, the lads are pleased compared to previous games, where we may not have put the work rate in, but frustrated that we were close and didn’t get more out of the game.”