League One
WalsallWalsall3FleetwoodFleetwood Town1

Walsall 3-1 Fleetwood Town

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at the Banks's Stadium
Tom Bradshaw
Walsall's Tom Bradshaw needs one more goal to reach 20 for the season

Walsall kept themselves in the frame for automatic promotion from League One by beating struggling Fleetwood, who remain in relegation danger.

Top scorer Tom Bradshaw, Paul Downing and Romaine Sawyers scored to lift the Saddlers back to within three points of second-placed Burton Albion.

Walsall must win at Port Vale on Sunday and hope Burton lose at Doncaster.

Devante Cole got one back for Fleetwood, who will stay up with victory at home to relegated Crewe.

The Cod Army's superior goal difference over Blackpool means a draw is almost certain to be enough but, if they lose and their Lancashire neighbours win at Peterborough, Steven Pressley's side will go down.

Cole's late strike also tilted the goal difference a little further in Burton's favour, meaning that either Walsall would have to win by more than one goal or Burton lose by more than one goal for the Saddlers to go up automatically alongside Wigan.

Saddlers go hell for leather from the start

Knowing that nothing less than victory would keep their slim automatic promotion hopes alive, Walsall got off to a dream start inside two minutes when Bradshaw turned in Jason Demetriou's right-wing cross.

They doubled their lead on 18 minutes when centre-back Downing volleyed home Anthony Forde's left-wing corner.

Forde came close to scoring when his free-kick took a looping deflection off the wall and had to be kept out by Chris Maxwell's superb fingertip save.

After Bradshaw had headed wide at the start of the second half, Sawyers put the result beyond doubt when, after a one-two, he drilled a low right-footed shot just inside Maxwell's right post.

Bradshaw was denied a second when Maxwell saved brilliantly with his fingertips, before substitute Cole netted his equation-changing consolation, curling a low right-foot shot beyond home goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

Walsall interim boss Jon Whitney told BBC WM:

"I've just got this feeling that something special's going to happen and we've given ourselves a great opportunity. We've still got the momentum.

"I'm sure Burton realise that they can't switch off they now. They now know that they have to get back on it.

"I feel for Steven Pressley because I really like their staff and have a lot of respect for them but we need to get wins.

"They're a decent side but we were so disciplined and our energy levels were a credit to the players. Tom Bradshaw worked so hard for us that he deserved his goal."

Fleetwood manager Steven Pressley told BBC Sport:

"Our first-half performance left us climbing a mountain. We got a reaction but we were nowhere near the levels we have set ourselves, in all aspects.

"Now we have to pick ourselves up and get the right reaction next week.

"We think we're good enough but we now have to endure a pressurised week and come out on Sunday to see the job through.

"I would expect a committed performance from Crewe. I know their manager Steve Davis. He's a professional man and their result proved on Saturday that he's still got them working very hard."

Line-ups

Walsall

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Etheridge
  • 2Demetriou
  • 4O'Connor
  • 6Downing
  • 14Henry
  • 12Forde
  • 7Chambers
  • 18MorrisSubstituted forMantomat 64'minutes
  • 15LalkovicSubstituted forHiwula-Mayifuilaat 72'minutes
  • 10SawyersSubstituted forCookat 86'minutes
  • 9Bradshaw

Substitutes

  • 3Taylor
  • 8Mantom
  • 13MacGillivray
  • 16Preston
  • 21Cook
  • 22Kinsella
  • 31Hiwula-Mayifuila

Fleetwood

Formation 4-1-2-1-2

  • 1Maxwell
  • 2McLaughlin
  • 4JordanSubstituted forNilssonat 48'minutes
  • 6Pond
  • 7Bell
  • 5JónssonSubstituted forColeat 59'minutes
  • 8RyanSubstituted forNirennoldat 62'minutes
  • 18Sarcevic
  • 37Scougall
  • 27Haughton
  • 23BallBooked at 79mins

Substitutes

  • 9Ameobi
  • 14Grant
  • 15Nirennold
  • 22Hunter
  • 31Nilsson
  • 40Gogic
  • 44Cole
Referee:
Tim Robinson
Attendance:
6,628

Match Stats

Home TeamWalsallAway TeamFleetwood
Possession
Home61%
Away39%
Shots
Home11
Away10
Shots on Target
Home6
Away6
Corners
Home7
Away4
Fouls
Home7
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Walsall 3, Fleetwood Town 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Walsall 3, Fleetwood Town 1.

  3. Post update

    Tom Bradshaw (Walsall) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Amari'i Bell (Fleetwood Town).

  5. Post update

    Jordan Cook (Walsall) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town).

  7. Post update

    Foul by Adam Chambers (Walsall).

  8. Post update

    Victor Nirennold (Fleetwood Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Fleetwood Town. Conceded by Neil Etheridge.

  10. Post update

    Attempt saved. David Ball (Fleetwood Town) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Walsall. Jordan Cook replaces Romaine Sawyers.

  12. Goal!

    Goal! Walsall 3, Fleetwood Town 1. Devante Cole (Fleetwood Town) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Amari'i Bell.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Fleetwood Town. Conceded by James O'Connor.

  14. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  15. Post update

    Delay in match Adam Chambers (Walsall) because of an injury.

  16. Booking

    David Ball (Fleetwood Town) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  17. Post update

    Adam Chambers (Walsall) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by David Ball (Fleetwood Town).

  19. Post update

    Corner, Walsall. Conceded by Marcus Nilsson.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Walsall. Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila replaces Milan Lalkovic.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Wigan452415681414087
2Burton452591157372084
3Walsall4523121066491781
4Millwall452391371482378
5Bradford4522111253401377
6Barnsley452181666531371
7Scunthorpe4520111458471171
8Gillingham4519121470541669
9Coventry4518121565491666
10Sheff Utd451812156457766
11Rochdale451812156660666
12Port Vale451811165653365
13Peterborough45186217772560
14Southend451611185661-559
15Bury451512185371-1857
16Swindon451511196171-1056
17Oldham451218154456-1254
18Chesterfield45158225868-1053
19Shrewsbury451311215876-1850
20Fleetwood451115195056-648
21Blackpool451210233958-1946
22Doncaster451112224864-1645
23Colchester45913235697-4140
24Crewe45713254681-3534
View full League One table

Top Stories