What a performance!
For all the justified criticism over the past few months the Saddlers finally showed determination, courage and pride of wearing the badge to dispose of fellow relegation rivals Bradford City despite playing with ten men for eighty-six minutes.
Many inside the stadium would have thought they’d seen a black cat or walked under a ladder as the Saddlers poor season went from bad to worse within the opening fifteen minutes.
Firstly top scorer Andy Cook went into an aerial challenge with Knight-Percival and seemed to lunge with his elbow – the referee finally reached for his red card after a delay. The Saddlers were up against it.
The game looked to be going further out of reach for the Saddlers as Eoin Doyle was left with a free header which he put past the helpless Liam Roberts.
Moments before the interval the Saddlers dropped into the relegation for a brief moment before Josh Gordon grabbed a massive goal. Joe Edwards who was outstanding all game continued to battle for a hopeless ball which he managed to get and pulled it back for Matt Jarvis. Jarvis initial shot was blocked but it fell to the feet of Josh Gordon who placed it into the net. The stadium erupted.
For the first time in a long while the players were given a round of applause as we headed into the break – what was to come none of us could imagine.
Moments after the restart, Zeli Ismail found space down the right and pulled it back to the ever dangerous Matt Jarvis. His shot rebounded off the crossbar but fell nicely to Joe Edwards who headed past ex Saddler Richard O’Donnell.
Our lead didn’t last long as O’Brien’s shot was superbly saved by Liam Roberts but fell kindly at the feet of O’Connor who fired home.
Anyone inside the stadium would have expected the Saddlers to cave in – how wrong could you be?!
Wave after wave of Bantams attacks was superbly defended by the colossal Jon Guthrie and Dan Scarr in the heart of the Saddlers defence. With both throwing their bodies on the line when it was needed – why has it taken til now?
The Saddlers grabbed a third just after the hour mark. Luke Leahy’s perfectly placed corner found the head of Josh Gordon who beat Richard O’Donnell at his near post. The Banks’s Stadium went mental!
The Bantams came back with wave after wave of attack and hit the bar moments later, it landed at the feet of Doyle but Liam Roberts pulled off an outstanding save. Doyle was offside but Roberts wasn’t to know.
Guthrie cleared one off the line late on but it was a performance that the late great Barrie Blower would have been proud of. It was he who used determination and fight to keep the club we love in our town.
At the full time whistle the players were rightly given a standing ovation by the 4,500 home fans – for the first time in months we can finally start moving upwards than dropping like a stone.
We know we cannot expect to win every week but all we ask for is the players give their all for the badge like they did today! It was reminiscent of the kind of performance you got from Dean Keates and Martin O’Connor during there day – the decision to add skip to the coaching staff could be a master stroke!
The Saddlers are now four points clear of the drop zone as we head to Burton Albion next weekend.
For the first time since the 19th January we can enjoy our weekend – Barrie Blower that win was for you.
Up the bloody Saddlers!
Vital MOTM – Josh Gordon
— Vital Walsall (@VitalWalsall) February 23, 2019