Fleetwood 0-0 Walsall: Russell Martin misses best chance in Highbury stalemate
Last Updated: 17/11/18 3:55pm
Russell Martin missed Walsall's best chance and they saw a strong penalty shout turned down in a 0-0 draw at Fleetwood.
The veteran defender should have buried Josh Ginnelly's left-wing cross but it bounced off his shoulder and over from six yards out.
Fleetwood were poor before half-time but still missed a good opportunity of their own when an unmarked Jason Holt blazed over, and after improving following the break they nearly won the game late on when Paddy Madden also turned Ched Evans' pull-back over the bar.
Walsall ran out of steam in the second half but still defended stoutly, and should have had a late penalty moments before Madden's miss when Morgan Ferrier was manhandled by Lewie Coyle as he attempted to turn a Zeli Ismail cross home.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns (6), Coyle (6), Eastham (7), Bolger (6), Husband (6), Hunter (6), Sheron (6), Holt (7), Wallace (6), Burns (5), Madden (5).
Subs: Evans (6), McAleny (5), Biggins (n/a).
Walsall: Roberts (7), Devlin (7), Martin (6), Guthrie (7), Leahy (6), Ismail (5), Kinsella (6), Dobson (8), Ginnelly (8), Gordon (5), Cook (6).
Subs: Ferrier (7).
Man of the match: George Dobson
Fleetwood had scored an average of more than a goal a game before half-time across their 17 League One games coming into the game, but they were slow out of the blocks against a dogged Walsall side.
Most of the visitors' first-half joy came from set-pieces but was more than Fleetwood could muster, and even before Russell wasted his glorious chance Jon Guthrie missed a close-range header from a corner when unmarked.
At the other end, the only real chance Fleetwood had of adding to their impressive scoring tally fell to Holt, who should have hit the target from 12 yards out after running unmarked onto Coyle's cross.
The second half threatened to spring into life within 90 seconds of the restart as Ross Wallace's scissor kick was brilliantly held by Liam Roberts, but that was the only chance of note for some time.
Both Fleetwood and Walsall were unchanged from their respective FA Cup wins last weekend.
The Walsall goalkeeper was indebted to midfielder Liam Kinsella for a goal-saving block from Ashley Hunter's effort when Ched Evans was denied, although a more clinical finish would have left him with little chance to keep it out.
In the last few minutes, with both sides becoming more stretched, a flurry of chances came and went, with Ismail's side-footed effort blocked from another corner.
And the visitors should have had a penalty late on when Ferrier was clearly held back by Coyle in the six-yard box, before moments later Madden missed a great chance for an injury-time winner by skying Evans' pull-back.
The result sealed a rare clean sheet for Fleetwood - their first in seven games - while Walsall move briefly up to ninth ahead of the rest of League 1 playing later on Saturday.
Man of the match - George Dobson
The Walsall captain was never afraid to get stuck in and played a big part in their stubborn defence out of possession, against a wily character in Ross Wallace.
At just 20 years old the Arsenal and West Ham academy graduate has made quite an impression at the Bescot Stadium since his January move from the Hammers.
Joey Barton: "You look at the chances. Yes we have had to defend 13 corners but we did that manfully. On the balance of play Ross Wallace's chance - a great save from the keeper. Ash Hunter's chance nine times out of 10 he puts that in the back of the net but a really good block.
"Right at the end our leading goalscorer gets presented with a golden opportunity. Very unlike him that he misses the target."
Dean Keates: "We were fairly dominant in the first half. At half-time we had 10 corners and we added to that in the second half. Had two free headers and am disappointed we did not connect with them. Russ should have done better, Jon Guthrie should have done better.
"Second half Fleetwood, the home team stepped up and created opportunities. We are disappointed from our side. On another day we could have had three points."
Walsall host Sunderland next Saturday at 3pm, while Fleetwood travel to Plymouth at the same time.