Date: 31st January 2016 at 10:17am
Written by: @adamguestwfc

The Saddlers cup exploits came to an end for another season with a disappointing 4-0 defeat at the Madejski Stadium. We were far from outclassed against our Championship opponents, but a combination of individual errors from the Saddlers, and clinical finishing from our hosts, resulted in the scoreline giving a more one-sided look than the game warranted.

It didn`t help that too many players had off days, with Romaine Sawyers playing like he was trying to deter any onlooking scouts, whilst Andy Taylor played like a man desperate to convince the club that selling Rico Henry would be a bad idea. Taylor has received his critics in recent weeks, and I`ve been unsure whether that`s been down to him being a shadow of the player he formerly was, or whether we`ve just been a bit spoilt watching Rico playing at left back and as a result Taylor just looks poor by comparison. However, the way he casually stepped aside to allow Hal Robson-Kanu to turn and blast the home side ahead directly from a throw-in suggested the former.

The Saddlers had been well in the game up to this point, Tom Bradshaw squandering a good chance early on, Jake Cooper deflecting his effort wide. However, the goal gave the home side the impetus and they doubled their lead just moments later. Good build up play resulted in Jason Demetriou being dragged out of position allowing Stephen Quinn the freedom of the left flank to pick out Matej Vydra who stabbed home from close range.
It could have been three just before the break when Taylor passed the ball straight to Vydra, who then ran through and fired wide when he should have done better.

To get back into the game the Saddlers needed a quick start to the second half, but it never really came. Other than a Sawyers effort that smashed against the bar on the hour mark, the visitors rarely threatened to score with the home side looked increasingly comfortable, and the game looking increasingly likely to peter out. However, the Walsall defence again managed to shoot themselves in the foot, this time when Paul Downing and James O`Connor couldn`t work out which one of them should clear the ball allowing Danny Williams to run through and slot past Etheridge who managed to suffer a major cut to his knee in the process that saw him stretchered off and replaced by Craig MacGillivray.

The scoring was completed in the 89th minute when Chris Gunter crossed from the right allowing Vydra a free header to put the icing on the cake for the home side who booked their place in round 5 easier than they really should have done.

However, if you`d offered me a 4-0 defeat at the start of the game on the understanding that Burton, Gillingham and Coventry would all lose then I think I`d have taken it. If all four sides were to lose on the same day, I`d much rather it be when we were playing a cup match whilst they were all playing league games. We now need to make sure we capitalise against Doncaster on Tuesday night.

 

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