Written by Robert Dearn
Two first half goals were enough to seal the Saddlers second home win of the season against mid-table Cambridge
It feels like a corner may have been turned. 2 early goals, not throwing away a lead, and players looking like a team, most of which we haven’t seen at Bescot this season.
Early on Shay Facey worked his way into the box from the right and drilled a low cross across the face of goal for Gordon to finish. It wasn’t a pretty finish as it hit off Gordon’s body, but they are the type of goal that you seem to get when you have that confidence about you.
A few minutes later Sadler flicked an Alfie Bates corner into the net to double the lead. A nice well worked corner routine that sees us add another to the set-piece goals total. In recent games, we have looked threatening from set-pieces. Against Darlington, Sadler won a couple of headers from corners, both flicking them across goal, and as shots. In previous games both Adebayo and Gaffney have scored headers from free kicks. It’s nice to see us finally making the most of set-pieces.
Lavery was unlucky not to add to our lead in the first half after striking a ball at the keeper after a well worked move down the right, once again featuring Facey bombing down the wing.
Despite our chances, Walsall were fortunate to go in at half-time without conceding after Knibbs headed a good cross straight at Roberts and Smiths header cannoned back off the post.
Just as Cambridge missed good chances, Walsall also missed an opportunity to score late on in the first half after Holden played Lavery through at the edge of the box, with his resulting cross cleared to Holden, who did well to get a good contact on the ball, but his tame effort was collected easily by the keeper. Gordon also saw an effort blocked after a good run, and Bates ended the move by putting his shot wide.
The second half saw Walsall nearly slip back into old habits. Roberts came to collect a cross and spilled it, the resulting melee saw a cross cleared and shot put out for a goal kick.
McDonald saw a curling effort from range tipped over the bar, when it looked destined for the top corner. It feels like only a matter of time before he bends one in from range.
Towards the end of the game, Walsall looked like they were about to do a typical ‘Walsall’ when Knibbs tucked a shot under Roberts, making the last few minutes very nervy indeed.
But Walsall stood firm to claim what is only their second home win of the season.
Walsall: Roberts, Facey, Clarke, Sadler, Cockerill-Mollett, Holden, Bates, Kinsella, McDonald, Gordon (Adebayo 87), Lavery (Gaffney 82).
Unused Substitutes: Rose, Norman, Jules, Liddle, Hardy.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Jones, Taylor, Taft (Norville-Williams 88), Ward, Davies (Dunk 59), Lewis (Roles 45), O’Neil, Maris, Knibbs, Smith.
Unused Substitutes: Burton, Darling, Worman, Dallas.
Attendance: 5,429 (inc. 545 away)