Express & Star

Walsall 1 Colchester United 1 - Report

A far brighter second-half display and Tom Knowles' first goal for Walsall saw them come from behind to draw with Colchester United at Bescot.

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Michael Flynn's men – looking to halt their recent slump in results – made a nightmare start as they gifted the U's the lead.

Hayden White, having appealed for an offside that did not come, let Frank Nouble in on goal and the target man capitalised in the first 90 seconds of the encounter.

The rest of the first half would prove to be a grim affair before the Saddlers, thankfully, found their footing after the break.

Jacob Maddox's first display for the club brought a much-welcome increase in tempo and Knowles found the net in fine fashion.

His sweet left-footed strike was followed up by half-chances for either side and a draw, on the balance of play, seemed the fair result.

Walsall are still looking to get that winning feeling back – now eight without victory in all competitions.


They had made one change from their 2-1 loss at Bradford City as attack-minded midfielder Isaac Hutchinson replaced veteran centre-half Peter Clarke.

Clarke dropping to the bench meant White was included in the back three while recent free agent signing Maddox was among the substitutes.

The Saddlers had no back-up goalkeeper on the bench, with Adam Przybek absent.

A minute's silence following the passing of the Queen was impeccably observed before a rousing rendition of the national anthem ahead of kick-off.

There was an air of excitement upon the first whistle – but the atmosphere immediately fell flat.

Walsall conceded a catastrophic opener with just two minutes on the clock.

A hopeful long ball forward from the U's should have easily been dealt with by White. However, instead of playing to the whistle, he bizarrely let the ball run past him and raised his hand as he thought Nouble was offside.

With Owen Evans slow off his line and no flag forthcoming, Nouble – hardly believing his luck – poked into the net.

It was a scarcely believable error, with White the main culprit but Evans certainly not covering himself in glory either.

Walsall failed to recover from that mistake throughout the rest of the first half.

Their play lacked any proper conviction or direction. It was all very hit-and-hope and the home supporters, understandably, voiced their frustration.

Referee Carl Boyeson's insistence to regularly blow up for niggly fouls and dish out bookings was not helping with the home side's attempts to find a rhythm.

Colchester, handed the lead, were quite happy to employ some time-wasting tactics as well.

But the Saddlers needed to find something and, as an absolute bare minimum, force visiting keeper Kieran O'Hara into a save having failed to test him at all before half-time.

Flynn, unsurprisingly, made a double substitution for the beginning of the second period as White and the ineffective Brandon Comley were withdrawn.

Andy Williams and Maddox – making his first appearance for the club – were those introduced and the latter was quick to breathe some life into Walsall.

He drove towards the U's backline and played a reverse pass to Danny Johnson, whose strike from an acute angle was parried away by O'Hara.

That was far more encouraging, and they soon threatened again as Knowles' cut-back following a fine move just had too much on it for Johnson to divert towards goal.

The Saddlers still looked rather frail at the back, though.

A clearance from Colchester defender Luke Chambers, somehow, released Kwesi Appiah clean through on goal – Manny Monthe just about getting back to divert the shot out.

From the resulting corner, a goal-bound header had to be blocked by Liam Bennett.

Walsall's confidence was growing having survived that scare. Maddox provided the composure and guile in possession they had desperately missed in the first half and would play a part in their equaliser after an hour.

The former Chelsea youngster played the ball inside to Hutchinson, who found Johnson. His flick released Knowles, and he fearlessly drove towards goal before sending a left-footed rasper into the far corner to finally open his Saddlers account after several near misses in previous weeks.

Maddox was involved again as Flynn's charges threatened to grab a quickfire second – playing it to Johnson whose attempt sailed past the near post.

Walsall introduced Danny Cashman late on and Donervon Daniels went close but, ultimately, the spoils were shared.

A much-improved second half from the Saddlers and the losing run ended. The search for a win, however, continues as they head to table-toppers Leyton Orient this weekend.


Walsall (3-5-2): Evans; White (Maddox, 46), Daniels (c), Monthe; Bennett, Kinsella, Comley (Williams, 46), Hutchinson (Cashman, 87), Allen; Knowles, Johnson

Subs not used: Clarke, Earing, Maher, Abraham

Goal: Knowles (61)

Colchester (3-4-3): O'Hara; Eastman, Chambers, Dallison (Chilvers, 80); Coxe, Judge (Skuse, 87), Longstaff, Clampin (Tchamadeu, 87); Appiah (Chesters, 87), Nouble, Lubala (Sears, 80)

Subs not used: Hornby (gk), Skuse, Newby

Goal: Nouble (2)

Attendance: 4,237 (123 Colchester fans)

Referee: Carl Boyeson