Fleetwood 0-1 WalsallA single Romaine Sawyers goal was enough for Walsall to end Town’s 16-match unbeaten home league run in a frustrating afternoon at Highbury.
Sawyers, a former West Brom youth product, got the only goal with 35 minutes played. Ashley Grimes’ left wing cross fell to the 23-year-old on the edge of the area as he shifted it onto his left before smashing, low past Chris Maxwell.
Dean Smith’s men arrived on the Fylde Coast unbeaten in their previous five league games and were able to stretch that run to six, ending Town’s unbeaten home run, which stretched back to February in the process.
Prior to the game Graham Alexander made two changes to the side that beat Yeovil Town 1-0 at Huish Park last weekend. Tyler Forbes and Josh Morris were the ones to make way with Conor McLaughlin and Tom Hitchcock returning to the starting eleven.
Town were the first to create a meaningful opportunity. After good work down the left by Stephen Crainey, Gareth Evans saw a ferocious volleyed attempt whistle past Richard O’Donnell’s post.
O’Donnell was then called into action with twelve minutes on the clock.
Hitchcock intercepted a Michael Cain pass before feeding the ball to his strike partner, Martin Paterson, who was making his home debut.
The former Burnley man cut onto his right foot and tried to curl the ball around the Saddlers’ goalkeeper but O’Donnell was equal to it turning it round his post.
The tempo of the game then began to die down with the visitors neatly keeping the ball, though Jeff Hughes was trying to get the Cod Army playing.
Ten minutes before half-time the breakthrough came for Walsall. Grimes got to the byline on the left flank finding Sawyers 18 yards out who duly despatched.
Town pushed hard for an equaliser and were nearly rewarded only for Mark Roberts, Stephen Jordan and Paterson all to see their efforts blocked in a goalmouth scramble.
Prior to the hour mark, Alexander made a double change, bringing on Antoni Sarcevic and Morris for Hitchcock and Steven Schumacher respectively.
Unfortunately though for Town it seemed to be one of those days, which was summed up by the normally potent Stephen Dobbie.
Midway through the second period the Crystal Palace loanee cut infield onto his left foot and opened fire from 25 yards only for his shot to go high and wide into the Memorial Stand.
Following Walsall’s first change, replacing Grimes with Anthony Forde Alexander made his final change with time ticking away, showing his intent by bringing on the exciting Nick Haughton for Roberts.
The change appeared to have an immediate impact with Dobbie forcing an excellent save by O’Donnell before Paterson saw an effort blocked on the line by Paul Downing, having evaded O’Donnell.
Smith then made his final two changes, eating into the last remaining minutes as James Baxendale and Jordan Cook were changed for Billy Clifford and Mathieu Manset.
Try as they might with five minutes added time awarded by the officials the Cod Army could not find a way past Walsall. Dobbie had the final chance but could not find the target with a volley from a Haughton cross.
Despite the loss Town stay in tenth ahead of next week’s trip to second place Swindon Town.