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

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.”

PIC­TURES: Chris Wynne/Pro Sport


N Wal­sal

l ALL SQUARE: Wal­sall for­ward Tom Brad­shaw throws his shirt in the air af­ter scor­ing, goal in­set

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