It was the tale of two loanees saving the day for the Saddlers on an entertaining evening of football at the Banks’s Stadium.
Walsall entered into the game on the back of an impressive victory away to Oxford United, whilst Charlton were looking to bounce back from an underwhelming 1-1 draw at home against Bury. It was the Saddlers though who started brighter with Kieron Morris, Zeli Ismail and Erhun Oztumer all looking lively behind West Bromwich Albion loanee Tyler Roberts.
Despite the positive start, Charlton exploited a Walsall back line that is yet to keep a clean sheet this season and netted a 13th minute opener after Tarique Fosu converted Jake Forster-Caskey’s excellent lofted through ball. The Saddlers didn’t react well to the goal, and struggled to match the Addicks all over the park with a series of long, aimless passes from the Walsall defence almost instantly transitioning into Charlton attacks on a number of occasions. Firstly, Josh Magennis saw his downward header from 6 yards tipped onto the post by Mark Gillespie, and then Ricky Holmes wasted a glorious opportunity from the edge of the box after again breaking the Saddlers’ offside ‘trap’.
It was important that Whitney’s men were able to ride out this spell of pressure and slowly grew back into the game as Morris and Ismail started to stretch the play and really test their opposite number. The equaliser came from the boot of Roberts as he steered in an excellent Nicky Devlin cross from the right to ensure that both teams headed into the break on level terms.
Half time: Walsall 1-1 Charlton Athletic.
With the Saddlers finishing the first half on top, they carried on their momentum into the 2nd half and started to impose a more high-tempo game onto Chalrton. Roberts looked especially lively and forced a couple of good saves from visiting ‘keeper Ben Amos. Despite the pressure, Walsall didn’t really create any clear-cut chances and Whitney introduced Dan Agyei and Maz Kouyhar from the bench to try and freshen up the attack.
However, just as the game looked like it may peter out, Holmes connected sweetly with a partially cleared right wing cross to lash home past Gillespie.
This setback would’ve probably seen the end of the game as a contest last season, but there seems to be a bit more about this Walsall side and almost instantly after conceding, Agyei became the hero as he curled home a beautiful 25 yard shot with his left foot into the top corner.
The two goals were fitting to what was an excellent game of football and a great advert for League One.
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