Proves his worth to Sad­dlers

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Michael Beard­more

TOM Bradshaw re­turned from in­jury to down Fleet­wood and fire Wal­sall past the 50-point bar­rier – and if he stays fit, the Sad­dlers’ League One sta­tus is cast-iron.

Bradshaw’s ham­strings have been as frag­ile as Diego Costa’s this sea­son – but Wal­sall do not have Chelsea-like re­sources to cope with­out their top scorer, now on 17 for the cam­paign.

In the 19 games he has missed, Wal­sall have net­ted just ten goals – and drawn a blank 12 times.

His lat­est ab­sence co­in­cided with the Sad­dlers fail­ing to find the net in al­most eight hours – but he found the bot­tom cor­ner with four min­utes to go on his come­back to ease their rel­e­ga­tion fears.

De­lighted boss Dean Smith said: “Tom was ex­cel­lent. We’re not just a one­man team – but we are a bet­ter team when Tom’s in the team, no doubt.

“His in­juries have been frus­trat­ing for all of us but we’re just glad we’ve got him here. He’s done the busi­ness in terms of goal re­turn and workrate as well.”

Bradshaw’s win­ner handed Wal­sall a four­point cush­ion over the bot­tom four.

Smith added: “It’s tough to say we’re safe be­cause there are still five games to go but the one ad­van­tage that we’ve got is our goal dif­fer­ence (-5).

“We’ve played some re­ally good foot­ball at times and not had an end prod­uct – and I thought to­day was go­ing to be the same but thank­fully Tom popped up.”

Wal­sall were by far the bet­ter team but, ei­ther side of the break, Kieron Mor­ris’ near-post ef­fort was tipped away by Town keeper Chris Maxwell and Andy Tay­lor missed a close range header.

Fleet­wood were poor but could have had a penalty when Sad­dlers keeper Richard O’Don­nell clum­sily col­lided with Jamie Proc­tor.

And just as it looked as if Wal­sall were set for a third con­sec­u­tive goal­less draw, Adam Cham­bers and Michael Cain com­bined to feed Bradshaw.

De­feat dam­aged Fleet­wood’s slim play-off chances and boss Gra­ham Alexander said: “We should have seen the game out to take a point but that’s been a bit of an Achilles heel for us this sea­son.

“The penalty shout has been the story of our sea­son. Jamie has nod­ded it past the goal­keeper, who has col­lided with him and taken him down.

“If it’s a cen­tre-half’s chal­lenge on a cen­tre­for­ward, it’s a free-kick out­side the box all day long but I could show you a video of in­ci­dents like that, es­pe­cially away from home.

“We’ve still got four games to go and we’re still in there with an out­side chance if any­one slips up – as long as we do our job and fin­ish strongly.”


ERS Wal­sal


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