Walsall - 0
A goal in each half secured Town another three points on the road with a 2-0 triumph at League One strugglers Walsall.
It was a comfortable win for Paolo Di Canio’s men who took control of the game from the off, with goals from Simon Ferry and Matt Ritchie enough to wrap up the win which has now seen the Robins claim seven points from a possible nine in their last three league encounters.
The Town boss made just one change to the starting line-up, opting to recall John Bostock into central midfield at the expense of youngster Louis Thompson.
The Robins took the lead with just 57 seconds on the clock. A cross from the left from Gary Roberts was not cleared and the ball fell to Ferry on the edge of the box who had no hesitation in blasting the ball into the roof of the net past David Grof in the Walsall goal. It was a superb start from the Robins and a smart finish from the Town captain.
The hosts, without a win from their last seven league outings, had their first effort on goal minutes later with Jamie Paterson cutting in from the right before dragging his shot past Wes Foderingham’s left-hand post.
It was a bright first ten minutes from the visitors with Andy Williams having a penalty appeal waved away before his strike partner James Collins brought a smart save out of Grof low to his left.
Town almost doubled their lead on 27 minutes with a swift break which saw Ferry and Matt Ritchie involved before the ball was cut-back by Gary Roberts. The ball fell to Williams who saw his first-time effort blocked with the Robins looking to get past Grof for the second time in the afternoon.
Williams’ pace then had Grof racing off his line on the half-hour mark to claim the ball with Town enjoying plenty of possession against their out of form opponents.
West Brom loanee Sam Mantom had the visitors’ first shot on target three minutes before the break before Roberts forced a low save from Grof at the other end. After two minutes of added first half time the referee brought an end to a positive, if unspectacular, opening period.
There were no changes to the side for the beginning of the second half which saw Adam Chambers volley narrowly over Foderingham’s bar within a minute of the restart. Dean Smith’s side then went even closer on 52 minutes with Malvind Benning bringing a smart low stop out of Foderingham low to his right.
Di Canio made his first change on 55 minutes with frontman Miles Storey brought on in place of James Collins. The youngster, due to meet up with England Under-19s straight after the game, was immediately into the action setting off on a powerful run.
Town continued to try and find a way through for a second but saw Bostock’s powerful long range drive blocked on the hour but it wasn’t long until the next goal arrived. A break from Bostock down the right saw a ball from inside his own half find Roberts in space on the far side. His ball in to Storey who saw his shot blocked as far as Ritchie on the edge of the area. His left-footed effort flew past Grof into the bottom right hand corner to the delight of the travelling 962 Town fans behind the goal.
The Robins kept up their attacking intent with a double strike from Williams turned away by Grof before Raffaele De Vita replaced Roberts with 20 minutes of the game remaining. Louis Thompson, the third Town substitute to be used, came on in place of Bostock with 11 minutes left on the clock. It was a straight swap in the heart of midfield and the Spurs loanee will have been pleased to have returned to action after a brief injury lay off.
Di Canio showed his frustration on the sideline after seeing Williams denied in a one on one opportunity before Storey went close as the game entered the final stages.
Town: Wes Foderingham, Nathan Thompson, Darren Ward, Joe Devera, Jay McEveley, Matt Ritchie, Simon Ferry (Capt), John Bostock, Gary Roberts, James Collins, Andy Williams
Substitutes: Leigh Bedwell, Troy Archibald-Henville, Paul Benson, Louis Thompson, Miles Storey, Raffaele De Vita, Adam Rooney
Walsall: David Grof, Richard Taundry, Andy Butler (Capt), Dean Holden, Nicky Featherstone, Adam Chambers, Will Grigg, Jamie Paterson, Malvind Benning, James Baxendale, Sam Mantom
Substitutes: Ashley Hemmings, Febian Brandy, Jake Jones, George Bowerman, Paul Downing, James Chambers, James Walker