Exeter City fell to a disappointing defeat at the Banks’s Stadium following a poor first half display and a controversial second half decision that went against them.
The Grecians were behind after three minutes when Rory Holden side-footed home from close range but levelled five minutes into the second half. The big turning point came on 62 minutes when Ryan Bowman turned home a Williams’ free-kick only to have the goal incorrectly chalked off for offside.
City manager Matt Taylor made two changes to the side that drew with Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday night as Matt Jay and Jayden Richardson came into the side for Lee Martin and Pierce Sweeney who both dropped to the bench.
However, the first half did not go to plan for the Grecians as they were pegged back for the majority of the half as Walsall found themselves first to every loose ball and created numerous chances.
The game was only two minutes old when Aaron Martin made a good block from a Josh Gordon shot and then Walsall followed that chance with the opening goal a minute later. Wes McDonald got down the left well and drove in a low cross that Lewis Ward parried out for Rory Holden to side foot home.
Further chances came the home side’s way as McDonald tested Ward with a shot from the edge of the box before Caolan Lavery inexplicably scooped a shot over from eight yards out after the ball had ricocheted into his path in the area.
When City registered the first shot on target from Nicky Law after 22 minutes, it was a brief respite, as James Clarke and Holden had further chances to extend the home side’s advantage in the remainder of the first half.
Matt Taylor made once change at the break bringing Jake Taylor on for Nigel Atangana. And it only took five minutes of the second half before City were level as Matt Jay played in Randell Williams down the right and he crosses superbly for Ryan Bowman to head past Roberts.
Walsall responded though as Josh Gordon raced to the edge of the box before firing just over and then McDonald did the same on the hour mark.
Williams then swung another cross into the area, but Nicky Law couldn’t sort his feet out quickly enough to get a telling shot on target.
City did then have the ball in the back of the net after 63 minutes when Williams free-kick appeared to have found the back of the net with the help of a flick from Ryan Bowman.
However, after the linesman’s flag stayed down initially the decision was overturned following, an angry reaction from the home players, and consultation between the referee and his assistant. The replays showed that Bowman was well onside and City had been robbed of a deserved lead.
Walsall then made a couple of changes of their own with 23 minutes to go and as Elijah Adebayo and Liam Kinsella came on and it was Adebayo who got the hosts back in front when he headed home a cross from the right.
The Grecians pushed forward in the minutes that remained and had plenty of the ball and opportunities around the box but were undone on the counter when Adebayo grabbed his second and the hosts third by tapping home from a yard out.
Walsall: Roberts, Norman, Pring, Clarke, Scarr, Sinclair (Kinsella, 67), Lavery (Adebayo, 67), Gordon, Holden, Guthrie (Sheron, 78), McDonald. Subs not used: Rose, Sadler, Bates, Nolan.
Exeter City: Ward, Atangana (Taylor, 45), A Martin, Law (Fisher, 72), Williams, Bowman, Parkes, Jay, Richardson, Dickenson (Sweeney, 72), Collins. Subs not used: Jared Thompson, L Martin, Ajose, Fisher, Moxey.
Booked: Richardson, Holden
Attendance: 5,521 (638, away)