The scoreline Walsall 3-1 Oldham always brings back memories of May 1999, when Lord Raymond of Graydon masterminded us to promotion. While the prize wasn’t quite so spectacular this time around, there’s enough optimism around the place currently to suggest a similar sort of push may not be completely impossible next season.
This wasn’t the most entertaining game Bescot has hosted this season. In fact, with the England U21’s here tomorrow night, it may not be the most entertaining game it hosts this week. I must admit when I entered the ground before kick off I was concerned at the state of the pitch and it will be interesting to see how the England side cope with it tomorrow, and I still am mildly concerned that all the work we put in to get the Bournemouth game on may come back and bite us the backside as the playing surface now looks to be deteriorating rapidly.
However, it didn’t seem to bother us too much on Saturday. Granted, it took a while for us to wake up and start playing, and it seemed to take us a while to get to grips with the visitors new front pairing of Chris Iwelumo and Lee Barnard. It was the latter that gave the visitors the lead with a superb header from a right wing cross. Personally I thought he was lucky to still be on the pitch by that point as he’d already caught both Butler and Andy Taylor with his elbow while contesting aerial challenges.
I didn’t really think we looked like scoring, but Baxendale had other ideas. Having been climbed all over by the Oldham right back, he took the ball forward and rolled the ball in from a tight angle when he really had no right to score. Suddenly the Saddlers were galvanised into action and we were unlucky not to go into the break ahead as Brandy flicked a Purkiss cross against the post.
The seconf half we were comfortably the better team as Butler and Downing dominated the Oldham front two. You did feel it was going to need something special for either side to win it, and thankfully it came for us through Jamie Paterson taking the ball forward and finishing with pinpoint accuracy from just outside the area.
The visitors pushed for an equaliser, and it looked like coming with four minutes to go when a right wing cross looked like being met at the back post by any one of two Oldham attackers, and only a brilliant defensive back header by Purkiss managed to flick the ball to safety.
We made sure of the points with the last kick of the game when a superb flick by Paterson put himself in the clear to slot home and ensure we took our current run of consecutive home wins to 5.