Walsall claimed their ninth away win of the season and marched into the automatic places after a 2-1 at Doncaster last night.
The Saddlers were lucky not to be trailing at half time following a dismal first half performance but thankfully the Jekyll and Hyde scenario happened and the Saddlers turned into the side we have come to expect during the second half to give boss Sean O’Driscoll a welcome return to his former club.
O’Driscoll made two changes, one enforced as Craig MacGillivray replaced Neil Etheridge after the keeper received a knock on Saturday and Milan Lalkovic was brought into the side at the expense of Rico Henry.
Doncaster started the first half brightly and a cleared free kick fell kindly to Cedric Evina but the left back volleyed well wide from just outside the box, while Andy Williams` cross caused momentary panic in the Walsall defence before Keegan`s follow-up effort from distance was blocked.
After a poor first half hour, the visitors finally had an effort on goal but it was a lame twnety five yard effort from Sam Mantom that went well wide.
Just after the half hour mark, Doncaster were unlucky not be in front – firstly a corner was flicked on at the near post and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair volleyed over with the goal at his mercy.
And moments later leading scorer Andy Williams should have hit the target, albeit from a tight angle, after holding off the Saddlers` last man but fired wide.
HT – DONCASTER 0-0 WALSALL
Five minutes into the second half the Saddlers showed real intent and Milan Lalkovic`s corner was headed onto the underside of the bar by Paul Downing.
Walsall went ahead just after the hour. Mantom bulldozered his way through in midfield and fired in powerfully, left-footed, from just outside the area. A superb goal from the former Albion man – when he hits them, he hits them!
A superb corner, straight from the training ground gave the Saddlers a two goal cushion just four minutes after the first.
Middleton came out to defend the corner but was completely out-foxed and when Romaine Sawyers` cross was only half cleared, Taylor was on hand to smash home the rebound from close range.
Mandeville gave Doncaster brief hope when his wonderfully curled shot sailed into MacGillivray’s top corner but despite under intense pressure the Saddlers held on for a massive victory!
FT – DONCASTER 1-2 WALSALL
Rovers: Neal, Alcock (Lund 82), McCullough, Taylor-Sinclair, Evina, Coppinger (Mandeville 66), Keegan, Middleton, Chaplow (Stewart 66), Gooch, Williams. Subs not used: Marosi, Lecygne, Whitehouse, Davies.
Walsall: MacGillivray, Demetriou, O`Connor, Downing, Taylor, Chambers, Mantom, Forde, Lalkovic (Henry 76), Sawyers, Bradshaw. Subs not used: Preston, Morris, Cook, Kinsella, Roberts, Morris.