A rousing second-half wasn’t enough for the Saddlers to gain three points but it did mean our best performance in many weeks.
There was no Michael Cain in the squad, and not a lot of people knew that, until the teams were announced. Sam Mantom was back in the middle instead. James Chambers on the bench, Jordy Hiwula on the left – the rest you all know.
The first-half was reasonably equal with Tom Bradshaw taking advantage of a goalkeeping error to head home. Will Grigg got MK Dons equaliser and was a threat throughout the first 45 minutes. There were two or three times he got the better of Paul Downing only to be flagged offside and had a questionable handball claim go against him after he had rounded O’Donnell. The goal came about from a cross from the left that Purkiss should have done a lot better to stop. It was all too easy. There was also a good shout for a penalty as Andy Taylor unnecessarily tripped a MK Dons forward. Mantom was anonymous.
The Walsall midfield didn’t have any grip at all in the first half but the second half was entirely different – it was all Walsall. Adam Chambers was superb and almost scored a rare goal. He was getting the ball of the defence and bringing it forward (as opposed to O’Connor bringing it forward against Leyton Orient) whilst Mantom sat in the middle and came more into the game. Sawyers linked everything up well but has no goal threat so it’s all too predictable – you know he’s going to pass instead of shoot. He had a great chance in the first-half but his finish was very poor.
Hiwula isn’t a winger, he is an out and out forward, we looked a lot better when Forde came on at the end as he gives us real impetus, and Murphy deserves a chance down the left-hand side.
It was more encouraging today and definitely more entertaining than what I have recently seen.
Bring on Wembley!