BOLD WALSALL GET SO SHIRTY!
WALSALL snatched a late victory against lowly Colchester, but caretaker manager Jon Whitney was refusing to take the credit, admitting the win was down to his players.
Deservedly leading through Alex Gilbey’s header on the stroke of half-time, Colchester had snuffed the Saddlers out completely and looked set for just a fourth clean sheet of the season.
But with a minute of the 90 left, Tom Bradshaw’s 18th goal of the campaign brought Walsall level.
Even worse was to follow as Darren Ambrose missed a golden chance to put United back in front and Walsall defender-turnedstriker Matt Preston lashed home the winner deep in stoppage time.
The goal made it three wins out of three for caretaker boss Whitney, but he revealed it was not his decision to send substitute Preston up front.
Whitney said:“The players did that, as a group. It was their selfmanagement, their decision.
“When you are behind you have to do things differently and they realised that.
“What a position we are in now, to be on 68 points at this stage of the season.
“We hadn’t won this year at home but that’s put to bed now.
“We’ve not got a game for two weeks with the international break and I think that will do us good as we will come back fresh.”
United cursed Walsall stopper Neil Etheridge, who kept the hosts in the game.
He saved an early Chris Porter header and two Elliot Lee shots, but was beaten by Gilbey’s bullet header from an Owen Garvan corner just before the break.
Etheridge twice denied Gavin Massey in the second half and those stops would prove crucial late on as United’s otherwise-commendable defence shipped goals 85 and 86 of their league season.
Walsall sent big defender Preston forward and he won a flick-on that Bradshaw latched on to and fired the equaliser into the roof of the net.
Ambrose should still have won it for the U’s but missed a free header with the goal gaping and the the visitors’ misery was complete when Preston slammed home the rebound after Bradshaw hit the bar.
Colchester would have climbed off the foot of the table with a win but now look doomed, ten points from safety, and dejected boss Kevin Keen sighed:“It was very, very cruel. We played very well but it’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened. We played well against Wigan last week and conceded a late equaliser.
“We were fantastic at home to Sheffield United but lost to a lastminute goal. And as good as we were here, we had enough chances to put it out of sight and the one moment we switched off is the moment that cost us.
“Does it sum up the season? Perhaps. As for 88 minutes we were the better team. But the last couple of minutes shows our Achilles heel – we’ve just conceded too many goals this season.
“We’ve got two games in four days next week,including Doncaster at home, which is a big game.”
STAR MAN MATT PRESTO
l ALL SQUARE: Walsall forward Tom Bradshaw throws his shirt in the air after scoring, goal inset