Chesterfield created most chances but fell to a sucker punch just after the hour mark when Tom Bradshaw beat Tommy Lee from close range. Ex Spireite keeper Richard O’Donnell made a number of top saves to keep the visitors out as Paul Cook’s men lost a fourth straight away game.
Spireites boss Paul Cook has brought in defensive midfielder Oscar Gobern on loan from Huddersfield this week and he goes straight into the side in a 4-1-4-1 formation as Cook tries to stem the flow of concessions without affecting the
Dan Gardner comes in for his first start of the season after injury problems, he’s on the right of four midfielders, Jay O’Shea & Ollie Banks miss out.
Walsall, managed by former Owl Dean Smith, having been a fixture in the top ten of League One for the last couple of campaigns have slipped into second bottom slot and they welcome back top scorer Tom Bradshaw after injury whilst their keeper is Tommy Lee’s former understudy Richard O’Donnell.
There was some unusual pre-match entertainment on the pitch. A very hirsute Walsall Stadium Manager Bryan Taylor had his long hair and even longer beard shaved off completely to raise over £1000 for charity.
Pre-match, the players were also wearing Kick It Out anti-racism T-Shirts to highlight the movement’s annual week of action.
Ryan’s right wing cross shouldn’t have caused O’Donnell any problems but the keeper juggled it but recovered just in time to gather ahead of Doyle. He then had to save a deflected Morsy 20 yarder as the game began to flow after a few minutes of non-committal sparring by both sides.
Darikwa headed away Taylor’s corner at the near post after Walsall’s first raid of note. Margreitter had to stretch to clear a Sawyers nod down before Bradshaw could get involved as the hosts started to warm up.
Clucas’s long range chip forced O’Donnell to back pedal and catch under the bar and Taylor blocked from the same player following a terrific Margreitter run forwards. Ryan blocked a Purkiss clearance and O’Donnell had to be quick to recover the situation for the Saddlers. Lee caught a Purkiss cross in spectacular style, one for the cameras, and he then had to leave his area to head away a Cain ball away before Bradshaw could get there.
Bradshaw, all alone on the six, got on the end of Taylor’s pin-point cross but his downward header lacked the force to bother Lee, who still had to make a decent save to keep the ball out. Darikwa cleared a decent Purkiss cross as the Saddlers enjoyed a decent spell of possession and pressure.
Ryan picked up the ball deep in his own half and he burst forwards, it was two on two, but the midfielder went all alone, Doyle being un-used and Ryan shot disappointingly wide after his 50 yard run.
Jones crossed for Clucas who powered a header just wide of the upright from 15 yards. Taylor nicked the ball off Ryan as he shaped to shoot following a terrific move. Sawyers received on the edge of the D but his snap shot flew a couple of inches wide.
Evatt’s header deflected for Chesterfield’s first corner but the skipper fouled as Gardner’s ball came in. Darikwa blocked well from a Cook shot after Sawyer’s neat back heel and O’Donnell had to be at his best to paw out a Clucas half-volley.
Saddlers earned a corner with the break approaching, Taylor’s delivery was easily cleared. Clucas shot wide in stoppage time as the half ended even and goalless.
Walsall 0 Chesterfield 0
To mark the start of the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal earlier this week, a number of veterans were welcomed on the pitch at half time; they received a great ovation.
Clucas’s thread through was blocked just ahead of Doyle and then Gardner found Clucas whose rising rocket was saved by O’Donnell with some skill. Chesterfield passed the opening five minutes without any scares, largely by being on the front foot but on 51 Lee came out of his area and delivered a shocking clearance but Walsall were unable to take advantage.
Gardner’s cross caused panic in the home rearguard and a corner resulted that led to a long spell of Chesterfield pressure. Adam Chambers handled 21 yards out, central, Morsy’s shot beat the wall but zipped wide. Ryan hit wide after a Clucas nod down as Spireites started to boss things.
Walsall had a rare attack, won a corner, brought on Forde for Baxendale before it was taken and the set-play was dealt with easily by the all blue defence.
On 61 Spireites fell behind despite having enjoyed the bulk of play since the re-start. A diagonal ball from the box edge found BRADSHAW one on one with Lee and the man back after injury left footed it over the keeper to stun the 938 travelling fans who were expecting their side to open the scoring based on play.
Morsy made a couple of step-overs has he reigned in on the penalty area and his low shot took a nick and went wide for a corner that took two efforts to clear. Jones shot wide from 30 yards as Spireites sought to get back into the contest.
Spireites introduced O’Shea and Roberts for Ryan and Gardner.
Walsall won a trio of back to back corners, Margreitter’s defending was excellent, as the hosts looked to see out the game by attacking.
Darikwa was booked for a foul on the impressive sub Forde, the full back’s foul came after a chase back after he initially lost control of the ball to set Forde off. Manton came on for Cain.
Darikwa won a corner which saw Evatt and Roberts get in interventions but not enough to worry O’Donnell. Benning replaced Cook.
Doyle turned away from James Chambers and his cross eluded Clucas, two yards out, by a boot size.
Banks replaced Gobern.
Lee had to gather a low cross and Evatt was carded for a foul as Walsall kept the tempo slow and staccato, just what Spireites didn’t want.
Benning’s burst led to a shot that was blocked and Clucas headed just wide as another goal looked a possibility right through to the end. Evatt went up front for the final few minutes and his presence caused panic as the ball fell for Roberts who dragged a great opportunity wide deep into stoppage time.
Colchester: Walker. Watt, Gilbey, Sears, Eastman, Clohessy,Massey, Moncur, Kent,Fox, Hewitt.Subs: Lewington, Gordon, Okuonghae, Eastmond, Healey, Bonne, Szmodics
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt, Margreiter, Jones; Morsy, Ryan; O’Shea, Banks, Clucas; Doyle. Subs: Hunt, Raglan, Humphreys, Johnson, Lamb, Gardner, Boco
Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey)