Late Bradshaw brace secures all three points for the Saddlers.Walsall - 2 (Bradshaw 85’ , 90’)
Doncaster Rovers - 0
Saturday 12th September
Banks’s Stadium, Walsall
Sky bet League One
Following Paul Dickov’s departure midweek, it was club captain and Under 21 Manager Rob Jones who took to the dugout looking to lead Rovers to victory in the West Midlands.
Jones fielded a strong starting eleven. Richie Wellens returned to the squad while Cameron Stewart came in to the side to replace Cedric Evina.
The home side had a strong start and it took just seven minutes for them to test the Rovers defence. Andy Taylor delivered an inch perfect cross from the left towards the back post, Jason Demetriou struck the ball on the volley from close range but his effort was just over the bar.
Minutes later Rovers broke down the other end, James Coppinger released Andy Williams down the right. His low cross into the box was met by an overhead kick from the Rovers captain forcing Neil Etheridge into a great save low to his right.
With Walsall enjoying possession in midfield, they should have taken the lead when Romaine Sawyers threaded a perfect pass through the defence for Bradshaw. Looking like they were about to take the lead, Thorsten Stuckmann was rapid off his line to make a brave save and deny the striker.
Despite being behind in possession, the visitors came close on the break through Curtis Main. The striker surged forward with the ball beating the defence before releasing a rocket of a shot towards goal, only to see it go inches wide of the post.
Cameron Stewart caused problems for Walsall down the left. Looking to break into the box he was dragged down just outside the area. His resulting free kick threatened as a dipping delivery towards the back post was narrowly over the cross bar.
Rob Jones’ side finished the half strong and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair forced Etheridge into another good save when his free kick from 20 yards was smartly kept out by the Walsall keeper.
HALF TIME: Walsall 0-0 Rovers
It was a lively start to the second half for the home side who enjoyed the majority of the possession once again.
Milan Lalkovic should have put them ahead as he cut inside from the right before shooting low with his left, however his shot was just wide of the right post.
On the counter, Coppinger was in possession on the edge of the Walsall area, with Williams behind him the striker struck a fierce half volley at goal. The ball looked destined for the net but somehow Etheridge denied the visitors with an acrobatic save.
Minutes later it was the Rovers keeper that was called into action. Andy Taylor with the ball cut inside from the left before curling a shot at goal. Stuckmann was at full stretch to keep out what looked to be a definite goal.
With the game turning scrappy, it looked as though a goal either way would decide the winner. Williams fought hard up front but it wasn’t going for him.
With five minutes to go Walsall broke the deadlock. With Rovers failing to clear their lines the ball fell to Bradshaw whose half volley rattled the roof of the net, a great finish.
He went close again straight from the restart, this time he dragged his left footed shot wide of the post.
Into added time, Walsall doubled their lead and Bradshaw doubled his tally. Substitute Paul Keegan lost possession in midfield allowing the hosts to break. Beating the offside trap, Bradshaw found himself one on one with Stuckmann. Forcing the keeper off his line, the striker chipped him from the edge of the area to secure all three points.
Walsall: Etheridge, Demetriou, Taylor, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers (c), Mantom, Bradshaw, Sawyers, Henry (Morris 66’), Lalkovic (Cook 73’)
Subs not used: Baxendale, Forde, MacGillivray, Preston, Flanagan
Cautions: Taylor, Mantom
Rovers: Stuckmann, Lund, Butler MacKenzie, Taylor-Sinclair, Stewart (Evina 66’), Gobern, Chaplow (Keegan 67’), Coppinger (c), Main, Williams (N’Guessan 83’)
Subs not used: Marosi, Middleton, Wellens, Mandeville
Attendance: 4,172 (392)