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Walsall Woe For Spireites

7 March 2017

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Chesterfield’s three match unbeaten away run came to an end at Walsall as Scott Laird’s second half goal gave the home side all three points.

The Saddlers were deserved winners on the night and perhaps should have scored more, but Thorsten Stuckmann performed brilliantly to keep Gary Caldwell’s team in the match. 

Caldwell named an unchanged team following the win at Swindon Town at the weekend, and Chesterfield enjoyed good possession early in the game but were not doing much with it. Though they did create an opening midway through the half, when Dan Jones burst through the middle and found Osman Kakay with space on the right but his left footed curler went wide. 

Walsall then came close down the other end, when Kieron Morris’ shot took a deflection and fell to Simeon Jackson who was quickly denied by the on-rushing Stuckmann, who took a knock in making the save. 

The Spireites had their first shot on target on the half hour when Kakay linked up with Kristian Dennis who fired a shot towards goal but it was comfortable for Neil Etheridge in the Saddlers net. 

Caldwell’s men did well to keep Walsall’s danger man Erhun Oztumer quiet in the first half, although he did have one opportunity when he turned and fizzed the ball goal wards but it went over. 

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes came courtesy of Morris, who skipped passed Angel Martinez with a lovely bit of skill and forced a Stuckmann into a fine save low to his right. 

The Saddlers sprung into life and tested Stuckmann again, this time it was Jackson who forced the German into a decent stop from close range. 

Walsall had the first chance of the second half courtesy of Morris. The winger showed great determination to wriggle his way past Donohue and then Jones to arrow a shot that was deflected wide. 

The resulting corner produced the opening goal, as it was flicked on by James O’Connor who gave Scott Laird a tap in at the far post 10 minutes after the break. 

They almost doubled the lead two minutes later when Osbourne’s effort crept just wide of the post. Caldwell reacted quickly to the setback and brought on Dan Garnder and Reece Mitchell. 

Walsall had clicked into their stride but Stuckmann was keeping the Spireites in the match as he again denied Morris with a finger-tip save low to his right, when it looked destined for the bottom corner. 

Oztumer then galloped into the box on 67 minutes and pulled the ball just wide of the post, as the Saddlers continued to press for a second goal with the Chesterfield clinging on. 

Walsall won a free kick from a dangerous position with eight minutes to go after Gardner handled the ball when trying to clear. Oztumer struck it with his left foot but again Stuckmann was equal to to the task. 

Chesterfield then began to push for an equaliser and had their best effort the half when Donohue’s cross was met by Sam Hird but his header was straight at the keeper. 

Shortly afterwards, Chesterfield were almost caught out as Etheridge then launched the ball forward and Walsall broke. The ball fell to Makris who had time in the area but he totally fluffed his lines and it was a let off for the Blues. 

The Spireites pushed again in injury time and won a corner late on but it was headed harmlessly over by Ian Evatt. It proved to be the final attempt of the game for the Spireites, who must now turn their attention to the huge game at home to Shrewsbury Town at the weekend. 

Walsall: Etheridge, Edwards, Laird, O'Connor, McCarthy, Chambers (C), Jackson (Bakayoko), Oztumer (Makris), Morris (Dobson), Osbourne, O'Connell.

Subs not used: MacGillivray (GK), Preston, Randall, Moussa.

Chesterfield: Stuckmann, Jones (Mitchell), Hird, Evatt (C), Angel (Gardner), Ebanks-Blake, Donohue, Dennis (Faupala), Anderson, Kakay, Grimshaw.

Subs not used: Fulton (gk), Simons, Humphreys, El Fitouri.

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