A Jordy Hiwula goal on 32 minute gave Walsall all three points in a one sided clash with Yeovil Town at Huish Park tonight.
The goal, coming five minutes after Walsalls Tom Bradshaw had missed a penalty was all that divided the sides however the Saddlers had four times the number of chances as the hosts who also missed a spot kick late on through Adam Morgan. The result leaves the Glovers rooted to the bottom six points from safety; frustratingly the five sides immediately above Yeovil in the table all lost so no ground lost, no ground gained!
Manager Terry Skiverton made four changes to the side that gained a point at Scunthorpe on Saturday. Keeper Artur Krysiak hadn’t recovered from his head injury and new loan keeper Scott Loach came straight in for his debut. At the back, Stephen Arthurworrey dropped out of the squad as a surplus loanee while Nathan Smith (injured) and Joel Grant (bench) were the other non starters. James Hayter, James Berrett and Liam Davis all came in from Saturdays bench.
It didn’t take long for any pre match plans to be torn up, just six minutes in fact as Stephen Kingsley was stretchered off with a facial injury after a poor challenge from Tom Bradshaw. It was late and dangerous but inexplicably, ref Charles Breakspear didn’t even issue a yellow card.
The first half followed a pattern throughout with the Saddlers dominating possession and creating many chances. Bradshaw, James Baxendale and Hiwula all missed chances early on and Romaine Sawyers tested Loach with a right foot shot.
On 27 minutes, Walsall were awarded a penalty in controversial circumstances. Hiwula’s first shot was blocked but rebounded to him, taking it past the on rushing Loach, he went down under the challenge from the keeper. Ref Breakspear gave the spot kick and for the second game running, a Yeovil keeper became the hero with Loach diving to turn away the penalty kick.
The respite was short lived though and after Hayter had shot straight at Walsall keeper Richard O’Donnell, the visitors took the lead. Hiwula broke into the box and conscious of the earlier penalty, no defender challenged and the Man City loanee fire home his fourth goal in seven games.
Scott Loach twice saved the home side from going two behind, denying Sawyers and Hiwula while Bradshaw, Adam Chambers and Reece Flanagan all were awry with their efforts.
Liam Shephard’s free kick barely tested O’Donnell right on half time and straight after the break, Yeovil had the ball in the net when Gozie Ugwu nodded in after Hayter had hit the crossbar but the striker was offside. This came only two minutes after Baxendale had rapped the post from outside the box.
Sawyers and Hiwula also went close, and that was enough for Skiverton to twist and put on his remaining two subs with Joel Grant and Adam Morgan replacing Hayter and Nathan Ralph.
On the hour, Yeovil felt they should have had a penalty when Berrett was felled in the box but nothing was given, and despite this,Walsall still looked the most likely to score, Bradshaw and Flanagan both spurning opportunities.
On 71 minutes came the break that Yeovil needed. Grant advanced towards the goal but was brought down by Ben Purkiss, ref Breakspear pointing to the spot. But Adam Morgan, having successfully netted against Gillingham from twelve yards, this time saw his shot saved by O’Donnell.
Yeovil’s best spell of the game followed forcing four successive corners but nothing like a goal arrived. Baxendale was booked for diving and sub Ashley Grimes made Loach dive full length to keep his shot out.
O’Donnell then produced the save of the match keeping Byron Webster’s header out after previously having his hands stung by Josh Sheehan’s long range strike.
Late on, Morgan found himself through on goal but typical of the night’s efforts, it was a good save from O’Donnell that preserved all three points for the visiting Saddlers.