Walsall FC 0 Colchester United 1 - match report
A freakish Craig Eastmond goal handed Colchester victory and condemned Walsall to another home defeat.
James Chambers clearance deflected off the Colchester man and past home keeper Richard O'Donnell for the only goal of a rather lacklustre game, ten minutes into the second half.
Andy Butler and substitute Amadou Bakayoko both went close to equalisers for the hosts.
But chances were few and far between, as the Saddlers once again failed to score in front of their own fans.
The Saddlers total of 21 goals at home this season is the lowest in the club's history.
And after battling for the play-offs for the opening two-thirds of the campaign, Dean Smith's men ended up in the bottom half on goal difference as they finished 13th.
Dean Smith made four changes to the side which started last week at Stevenage, with Kieron Morris handed his first senior start. James McQuilkin, James Baxendale and Andy Taylor were all included in the starting XI, with Mal Benning and Romaine Sawyers all dropping to the bench.
Meanwhile, there was no final hurrah for loan trio Milan Lalkovic, Febian Brandy and Michael Ngoo who were all omitted from the matchday squad.
Baxendale, restored to the starting line-up, forced Colchester's Sam Walker into the first save of the game with a curling shot from the corner of the box in the opening stages.
Opposite number Richard O'Donnell then pulled off an even smarter save, pushing away a Gavin Massey curler which looked destined for the bottom corner.
Morris and Sam Mantom both struck drives straight at Walker from distance, the second of which the keeper had some trouble holding.
Top scorer Craig Westcarr then sliced an admittedly difficult chance over from inside the box after an Adam Chambers knock down, before fizzing a shot from distance over the bar.
Chambers almost opened the scoring early in the second half but Walker did well to keep out his low drive from just outside the box, which had threatened to creep inside the near post.
Eastmond then did open the scoring, in bizarre fashion. James Chambers went to clear but the ball struck the midfielder and flew just inside the near post of a helpless O'Donnell.
Mantom looked to hit back straight away and sent a drive from distance wide of the post, while Baxendale was guilty of snatching at a decent chance after the ball fell to him kindly in the box.
Taylor also saw a powerful long range drive deflected over the bar but chances remained few a far between.
In their best move of the game, Adam Chambers had a shot blocked and Taylor again directed an effort just over the top.
Finally chances came. Butler was denied by Walker and Bakayoko saw his effort cleared off the line by Eastmond.
But it was too little too late from the hosts.
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