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Coventry 3 Walsall 0 - Report and pictures

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Ex-Walsall strikers Amadou Bakayoko and Jordy Hiwula pushed their former club closer to the relegation zone - with both scoring as Coventry secured a 3-0 win over the Saddlers.

In what was Walsall’s fifth consecutive loss in League One, the strike duo both netted in the first-half with Bright Enobakhare wrapping up a comfortable win for the Sky Blues after the interval.

On a poor afternoon for Dean Keates’ side, the Saddlers struggled to create throughout with a 78th minute strike from Joe Edwards - that was comfortably saved - their only effort on target.

The result means Walsall have now won just one of their last 13 games - with the pressure mounting on Keates and his players as they bid to avoid the drop.

ANALYSIS

In naming his starting line-up, boss Keates opted to make five changes from the team that was beaten on home turf by AFC Wimbledon.

Scott Laird, Jack Fitzwater, Nicky Devlin, Matt Jarvis and Zeli Ismail were all recalled with Luke Leahy, Jon Guthrie, Cameron Norman, Isaiah Osbourne and Josh Gordon the men to make way.

It meant the Saddlers switched from a midfield diamond formation to a traditional 4-4-2 with Aramide Oteh partnering Andy Cook up top.

Coventry lined up in a 4-2-3-1 system that saw Bakayoko operate as the lone front man.

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Fellow ex-Saddler Hiwula was on the left, Luke Thomas on the right and Bright Enobakhare in the number 10 role.

The opening 25 minutes proved a real tactical battle with both teams enjoying some decent spells on the ball but without creating a chance of note.

It was Coventry who threatened first with Liam Kelly seeing a low drive from 25-yards well tipped away by Liam Roberts.

And then on the half-four - with their first meaningful opportunity - the Sky Blues took the lead.

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Chelsea loanee Dujon Sterling sent in a cross from the right with Bakayoko doing well to place himself in-between Fitzwater and Dan Scarr.

And the striker then had a simple header which he powered into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the campaign.

Seven minutes later and the hosts had doubled their lead.

A ball over the top put Hiwula and Fitzwater in a race in the left channel.

But the defender was slipped or had his heels clipped with Hiwula then darting into the box and producing a smart finish to slide the ball across goal and into the bottom corner.

With the wind in their sails, Coventry pushed for a third before the break. But while Walsall kept them at bay, they failed to create anything going forward.

It was the hosts who continued to be the brighter of the two teams after the interval with the lively Tom Bayliss seeing a strike from 20-yards parried away by Roberts.

With something needing to change, Keates brought on Corey Blackett-Taylor for Oteh in a move that saw Ismail join Cook up top.

Despite the changes, Coventry then went on to have two glorious chances to put the game to bed before the hour mark.

First, Hiwula saw a cross-come-shot parried by Roberts. But the ball fell for Enobakhare who simply had to tap it into an empty net from six-yards.

The Wolves loanee got his timings wrong though and incredibly side-footed the ball over the bar.

Minutes later Hiwula thought he had his second when he tricked his way past Scarr before powering a strike at goal.

It looked destined to hit the net but Roberts made an outstanding one-handed stop to push the ball away.

The goalkeeper was now keeping Walsall in the game with Roberts then going on to deny Thomas from close range after he got in-behind Laird.

In the 73rd minute though, Robins’ side did have a third - with referee Anthony Backhouse awarding a penalty after Fitzwater tripped Enobakhare.

The Wolves loanne dusted himself down to take the spot-kick himself and placed the ball in the bottom left corner, just beyond the reach of Roberts.

Walsall registered their first shot on goal with a little over 10 minutes remaining - Joe Edwards seeing a low drive from 18-yards saved by David Stockdale.

But while the Walsall fans jokingly burst into celebration, that was as good as it got for them on a dreadful afternoon for Keates and his players.

Coventry: Stockdale, Mason, Willis, Kelly, Sterling, Hiwula, Hyam, Bayliss, Thomas (Wakefield 86), Enobakhare (Chaplin 77), Bakayoko.

Subs not used: Addai, Grimmer, Davies, Meyler, Shipley

Walsall: Roberts, Laird, Fitzwater, Scarr, Devlin, Jarvis, Kinsella, Edwards, Ismail, Cook, Oteh (Blackett-Taylor 56).

Subs not used: Dunn, Leahy, Guthrie, Norman, Gordon, Osbourne.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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