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Town 0 Walsall 1

14 December 2013

Town left to rue missed chances as the Saddlers take the points

Town: Chris Weale, Cameron Gayle, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Adam Reach, Paul Parry (Jon Taylor 58), Ryan Woods, Luke Summerfield (Nicky Wroe 58), Tom Eaves (Tom Bradshaw 88), Gozie Ugwu

Subs: Joe Anyon, Dave Winfield, Alex McQuade, John Marsden, Dave McAllister

Walsall: Richard O’Donnell, Ben Purkiss, Andy Taylor, Andy Butler (c), Adam Chambers, Sam Mantom, Milan Lalkovik (Ashley Hemmings 72), Craig Westcarr, Paul Downing, James Baxendale, Romaine Sawyers

Subs: Nicky Featherstone, Shane Lewis, Malvino Benning, James Chambers, Troy Hewitt, Julian Gray

Referee: D. Phillips
Assistants: M Astley, W. Westwood
Fourth Official: M. Duncan

Attendance: 6015 (1126)

Town name an unchanged side from the one that managed to gain its first away win of the season at Stevenage last time out.
Town were bright and up for it right from the first whistle and took the game to the visitors.  Gozie Ugwu was strong in the box to hold off the defenders and force a corner, then moments later Town had a great chance to take the lead after Tom Eaves found himself in on goal, he laid the ball off to Ugwu but O'Donnell was quickly off his line and bravely was down at Gozie's feet to pull off an important block.

Walsall had won the coin toss and made Town to kick into the sun that was streaming down over the South Stand and this was making defending hard for the home side.  Walsall were hitting high balls into the Town box and the defence was losing the flight of the ball in the sun, and this was making defender somewhat interesting at times.

Town were putting in a great attacking performance and with 15 minutes on the clock they had put in four good efforts in on the Walsall goal.  The home side were playing some good stuff and were not afraid to have a long range effort with both Eaves and Parry bringing out good stops from O'Donnell.

It was turning into a really good local derby and with 20 minutes on the clock it was end to end at times.  Walsall were getting more and more into the game and Town were having to put the hard work in and close down the visitors.  Walsall were finding the space to create some good openings but Chris Weale and his defence were holding strong.

Chris Weale was having to do a lot of clearing of crosses into his box but when Romaine Sawyers found some space in the Town box he hit in a decent looking shot but Weale was equal to it with a superb save.

With 10 minute of the half left Town were beginning to get a little frustrated with the decisions not going with way from ref Phillips.  Both Eaves and Ugwu were getting a lot of attention from the Walsall defence but weren't getting a lot of decisions which they felt should go their way.

The weather was still affecting the Town performance but the sun had gone and it was not the wind that was causing problems.  The balls up to the front two weren't getting there and anything in the air or over the top was getting caught in the wind and the pressure was back on Town.

Half-time: 0-0

Walsall got their noses in front 7 minutes after the restart after Sawyers timed a ball perfectly in behind the Town defence to beat the offside trap, there were two players in on goal with Lalkovik on the ball, he kept his calm as Weale tried to get the ball block and then rolled the ball into the empty net to make it 1-0 to Walsall.

Graham Turner was quick to ring the changes with a double substitution on 58 minutes with Jon Taylor and Nicky Wroe on to replace Paul Parry and Luke Summerfield, GT revealed in his prematch interview that Luke had been struggling with sickness bug.

Town should have been level on 62 minutes when some good build up play between Gayle, Reach and Woods ended with Woods lifting a lovely ball to the back post which was met by Jon Taylor, he headed it back across the goal and there was Eaves yards from the target, he stretched to turn the ball home but was at full stretch and managed to lift the ball over the crossbar.

Town were still showing that they were firmly in the game and were creating chances and seeing good possession of the ball.  The substitutions had given Town a little more bite and they were looking to get back onto level terms.

Town were nearly back on level terms on 75 minutes when an Adam Reach corner was met with a good shot from Wroe but a clutch on Walsall players managed to get the block on the line, Walsall then turned defence into attack but amazingly the ref missed several fouls on Gayle and Taylor and ended up giving a foul to Walsall just out side the Town box and somehow booked Joe Jacobson.

GT made his final switch with minutes of the game remaining with Tom Bradshaw onto replace Tom Eaves as Town looked to get something from the game.

Full-time: 0-1

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