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Walsall 0 Charlton 2 - Report and pictures

By Joseph Masi | Sport - Top Stories | Published:

Krystian Bielik came back to haunt Walsall after they were comfortably beaten at home by Charlton.

The Poland under-21 international joined the Saddlers on loan from Arsenal last season but failed to make a single appearance for the club due to persistent problems with his knee.

But he found the target in his first ever appearance at the Banks’s Stadium with the defender netting the second as Charlton ran out 2-0 winners.

The Addicks had earlier grabbed a seventh minute lead when Lyle Taylor scored from the penalty spot after George Dobson had fouled Tarique Fosu.

And the Saddlers never really recovered from that point with Dean Keates’ side creating very little as they fell to their second home defeat in the space of four days.

ANALYSIS

After the disappointing display against Burton, Keates opted to make changes to both his system and personnel for the visit of the Addicks.

At right-back Nicky Devlin was restored at the expense of Kane Wilson while there were also recalls for Josh Ginnelly and Josh Gordon.

It meant the Saddlers lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Gordon on the right of midfield, Ginnelly on the left and Andy Cook joined by Morgan Ferrier in attack.

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Charlton, under the guidance of Lee Bowyer, lined up in a midfield diamond system with Tarique Fosu in the number 10 role and Taylor partnering Igor Vetokele up top.

After failing to recover from a slow start against Burton, Walsall entered the clash eager to impose themselves early.

But they fell behind in the seventh minute when a wonderful piece of control from Fosu drew a foul from Dobson in the box.

Referee Tom Nield had no option but to point to the spot - with Taylor then converting from 12-yards for his fifth goal in as many games against the Saddlers.

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Charlton had looked fluid from the off with Bowyer’s side dominating the ball as the half reached its midway point.

And they almost doubled their advantage when Taylor’s clever backheel teed up Fosu who then saw a shot from eight-yards deflect over the bar.

Keates’ side had again taken their time to find their rhythm but - with Gordon particularly lively - they gradually began to grow in stature.

And they were a touch unfortunate not to get a penalty of their own when a flowing passing move ended with Dobson going down under pressure from Josh Cullen.

But while Cullen seemed to get the man instead of the ball, this time referee Nield waved play-on.

It was Charlton who were dominating the ball though and they came close to grabbing a second as the clock ticked towards half-time.

Taylor stood up a cross to the back post where substitute Karlan Grant seemed to hang for an eternity before powering a header towards goal.

But Liam Roberts was in the right place to produce a brilliant acrobatic stop and punch the ball away.

Walsall had only looked a threat from distance with Cook firing wide from 20-yards in stoppage time after being teed up by Ferrier.

And that meant, as the two teams made their way off at the break, the Addicks were thoroughly deserving of their lead with Keates’ men not clicking in the way they had earlier in the campaign.

Walsall made a change at the break with Liam Kinsella replacing Isaiah Osbourne.

And for the first few minutes of the second-half, they tried to be play more on the front foot albeit without being able to find that crucial final pass.

But events then conspired against them with Charlton doubling their lead in the 51st minute - from a corner that Taylor won despite being in an offside position.

Despite strong protests from Devlin and the home crowd, the linesman gave the set-play.

And Josh Cullen’s delivery then hit Russell Martin before falling kindly for Bielik who slammed in from close range.

The game had become quiet fiery as the clock past the hour mark with Charlton’s players eager to waste time and Bowyer booked for complaining about a challenge on Chris Solly.

But all it was doing was stopping Walsall from getting any tempo to their play.

With his team still having not created a chance of note, Keates introduced Zeli Ismail for Gordon with 15 minutes still to play.

And they came close to pulling a goal back just moments later with Ferrier and Ginnelly doing well to combine at the byline.

The former Boreham Wood man then cut back into the danger area before hitting a rasping drive which was palmed away by Jed Steer.

And while Walsall huffed and puffed from that point, Charlton played out the final 10 minutes in relative comfort to secure what was a deserved win.

TEAMS

Walsall: Roberts, Leahy, Guthrie, Martin, Devlin, Ginnelly (Ronan 85), Dobson, Osbourne (Kinsella 46), Gordon (Ismail 75), Ferrier, Cook.

Subs not used: Dunn, Wilson, Johnson, Morris.

Charlton: Steer, Bielik, Pearce, Taylor, Fosu (Marshall 82), Vetokele (Grant 34), Pratley, Aribo, Solly, Sarr, Cullen (Lapslie 80).

Subs not used: Phillips, Ward, Ajose, Stevenson.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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