Walsall FC 2 Carlisle 0 - match report

A sublime goal from Milan Lalkovic was the highlight as Walsall enjoyed a pre-Christmas win over Carlisle.

Walsall FC boss Dean Smith
Walsall FC boss Dean Smith

The Chelsea put the Saddlers two up midway through the second half when he latched onto a long ball before rifling a shot in off the post.

Romaine Sawyers had earlier put the hosts ahead with a cool finish past keeper Ben Amos.

Carlisle missed the chance to equalise when Lee Miller blazed over from three yards out after his penalty was saved by Richard O’Donnell. And their misery was complete late on when Courtney Meppen-Walter saw red for hauling down Lalkovic.

The Slovakian was awarded the sponsors man-of-the-match prize and it was hard to argue after an all-action display which was capped by the goal.

But there were a number of other performances to admire in a fine performance from the Saddlers against the in-form visitors.

The only downside for boss Dean Smith were an injury to Craig Westcarr which forced him off before half-time and a booking for Adam Chambers which rules him out of the Boxing Day trip to Bristol City.

Smith named an unchanged side from the one which beat Shrewsbury Town last week.

But it was the visitors who were presented with a golden chance to open the scoring in the opening minute. Saddlers skipper Andy Butler allowed a long ball past without noticing Miller behind him and the visiting striker hammered in a shot which keeper O’Donnell did well to block behind for a corner.

The hosts soon had the first effort of their own when Lalkovic drove over from 20 yards out, before Westcarr hooked over from an Andy Taylor cross.

James Baxendale was close to getting on the end of a chipped Chambers pass as the hosts began to find their feet going forward.

Lalkovic then had a shot blocked before Sawyers opened the scoring 14 minutes in. The striker latched on to a great long pass from Paul Downing and kept his cool to roll a shot under keeper Amos.

Paul Thirlwell shot over from distance as Carlisle looked for a reply, which Miller looked certain to give them from the spot, after Taylor was adjudged to have handled when challenging David Amoo for the ball. But Miller hammered his spot-kick straight at O’Donnell before blazing the rebound over from three yards out.

James Berrett shot off target for the visitors and Lalkovic should have chose to pass rather than shoot after advancing into the box, before Westcarr was forced off five minutes before the end of an entertaining opening half.

Sam Mantom had the first effort of the second period when he shot wide from distance after the visitors failed to fully clear a corner.

But the hosts were nearly caught out when Lalkovic dallied in possession deep in his own half, got dispossessed by Berrett and Miller flashed a first time shot across goal and just wide of the far post.

Meppen-Walter then shot over from the edge of the box after the Saddlers struggled to clear their lines following a Berrett free-kick.

But midway through the second half Lalkovic gave the hosts breathing room with a sublime. Again a ball over the top, this time from Mantom, caught out the visiting defence and Lalkovic cut inside before firing a ferocious shot in off the post from the edge of the box.

That ended the game as a contest and Meppen-Walter saw red for hauling down Lalkovic before Hewitt curled an effort just wide in stoppage time.