From feeling like we had been robbed at the death to celebrating a wonder strike- last nights encounter with Charlton was a highly entertaining affair to say the least.
The game actually started very poorly for the Saddlers. Fresh off the back of our first away win in 9 months, I was expecting there to be a bit of swagger about the unchanged team, but in typical Walsall fashion we couldn’t have looked more mediocre compared to the team that had just beaten a promotion chasing Oxford side at the weekend.
It may be easy to forget that first 40 minutes when you look at the second half performance and the thrilling end, but Charlton made us look like we did not belong in the same league as them at times. Everything they did was quicker and more assertive than us. When we had the ball we didn’t seem to make them work at all to get it back or to stifle any attacks. When they had the ball the pace and movement of their attacking lines cut through us with consummate ease. Their striker and left winger in particular just drifted in and out of space and seemed to find no resistance from our back line whatsoever. The opening goal was a perfect demonstration of the ease at which Charlton were working. A few easy passes across their back line then moved into midfield and next thing you know they are in behind one-on-one.
We could have collapsed at that point- I was genuinely worried that we could find ourselves on the back of a hammering after fine save by Gillespie (tipping a header onto the post) was the only thing stopping the lead from doubling shortly after. However the lads held on and with half time looming a fine cross from Devlin perfectly picked out an unmarked Roberts who deftly touched home the cross.
From that point on it was like watching a different team. Instantly everyone looked more comfortable, composed in defence and moving forward in fine fashion. The second half was absolutely dominated by the Saddlers. Morris who has had his fair share of criticism from fans showing what he can do when he is placed in a wider role and Tyler Roberts looking like he belonged in the Albion first team with the ball at his feet. I really wish we would try to play it around and work the ball to his feet more than just lumping it up to him which Wilson was guilty of on numerous occasions. Joe Edwards was having the game of his life. One of the best individual performances I have seen at the Bescot for a long time, he throughly deserved his man of the match accolade.
The reds pushed forward time after time, a free kick from Ozzy, a header that should have been buried by Guthrie and a clever flick from Roberts all nearly earning the Saddlers a deserved lead. It was not to be, a few disruptions through injury and substitutions (which I think Whitney got right) knocked a bit of the momentum out of us and in the last 15 minutes the pace and frequency of the attacks slowed and it seemed we were heading for a draw.
Then out of nowhere Charlton somehow popped up with a go ahead goal. Gillespie beaten right down the centre of his goal above his head (not for the first time this season) and considering he was only a yard off his line I can only assume his view was blocked: It looked like one he should have saved.
At that point I was ready to write a blog piece ‘‘I’m not angry just disappointed” as the lads didn’t deserve to lose the game. And thankfully they didn’t. Just 11 seconds after the restart, Dan Agyei picked up the ball about 30 yards out carried it to the edge of the box and then curled an absolute beauty into the top corner. Nothing short of what the reds deserved.
Another game where we seemed to be two different teams either side of the half. If we can put together 90 minutes like that second half performance then the wins should come rolling in… COYR.