Match Report


Sat 22 Dec 12

A single goal was enough to separate the two sides as the U's and Walsall came head to head on Saturday afternoon. 

Both sides knew that this was not a match that would determine their seasons, but would instead provide a positive start to their festive campaigns to get away from trouble at the foot of the table. 

The U's hit the bar twice during the game, but the Saddlers grabbed the crucial goal in the game as Brandy slotted one home just after the hour mark. 

And so the big games over Christmas are ever more important for the U's as they look to get back to winning ways. 

The U’s made two changes to their starting eleven for the trip to the Midlands, with Wilson and Morrison coming into the side in place of Potts and O’Toole, both of whom dropped to the substitutes bench, alongside the returning Magnus Okuonghae and Marcus Bean.

The changes saw the U’s go 4-4-2 for the first time at the start of a game under Joe Dunne, with Rose and Sears on the left and White and Wilson on the right.

There was some early pressure for the home team, as two set pieces caused difficulty for the U’s at the back, but they stood strong and saw off that trouble.

The U’s grew into it and Ibehre almost had a sniff of goal as the ball dropped behind Sam Mantom, but keeper McCarey was quick off his line to clear the ball.

The first real chance of the game came on eleven minutes, though. The Saddlers hit the U’s on the counter and Brandy darted towards goal, firing in a shot that clipped Eastman on the chest and went just past the near post with Cousins wrong-footed.

The U’s then put together the best move of the match on nineteen minutes, with the ball being moved quickly from right to left and back again, for Wilson to sidefoot a volley over the crossbar.

Despite the rain, the surface was playing well, although Rose lost his footing midway through the half and Brandy snapped up the loose ball. It eventually found its way to Chambers, whose shot was bravely blocked by the flying White.

It came amidst a good spell for the Saddlers, and Brandy spurned a great chance as he was slipped in on goal, but he dragged his shot well wide of the target when one on one with Cousins.

The U’s stood strong and had a great chance of their own just before the half hour mark.

A lovely clipped ball down the line from White was brought down with a fine first touch from Ibehre and his second was even better as an audacious chip beat the keeper but came back off the face of the bar.

Next, Sears went close as he stood up his full back Purkiss and opted to take the shot early, it curling past the far post with keeper McCarey scrambling across.

After the U’s had hit the bar earlier in the game, Walsall did the same five minutes before half time.

A corner went straight onto the crossbar and, after Cousins hooked it clear, White finished the clearance with a header.

Having had a spell of pressure earlier in the half, the U’s had to stand firm as the first forty-five drew to a close.

The home side had a host of corners, all of which were not fully cleared nor cleanly struck towards goal and on more than one occasion the ball pinged around the U’s area.

The U’s got to half time all square and made a change during the interval, introducing Drey Wright for the second period in place of Michael Rose.

Cousins kept the U’s level three minutes in though, with a sensational double save. First he dived full length to stop Grigg’s shot, before Brandy was denied on the follow-up.

Sears’ shot was well blocked shortly afterwards, before Morrison looked like he might get in on goal but hesitated in a central position when about to shoot.

The home side got their noses in front just after the hour mark. The ball was played forward and Brandy’s first touch got him away from Thompson and his diagonal run opened up the goal to stroke home a shot past the onrushing Cousins.

The Saddlers were flying after their goal and had the U’s on the backfoot as the last twenty minutes got underway.

That said, Henderson went close for the U’s as he found himself in space, turned and darted towards goal before shooting just wide of the target.

Without a win in a fair while, the Saddlers were starting to drop deeper and happy to hit on the counter attack against a U’s side seeking the leveller. 

But the U's were struggling to find the pass or combination to unlock the door as the clock ran down into the final ten minutes. 

Thompson was pushed into the front line of the team as the U's looked for a way back into the game, but time was running out. 

That almost paid instant dividends as Wilson threw a free kick to the edge of the box and his looping header beat the keeper, but came off the top of the crossbar. 

The U's went into injury time with seven players pushing up, and bombarded the Saddlers goal in the quest to get back into the game. But it was not to be and the wait for a win goes on. 

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