Following Saturday's trip to Fratton Park, columnist Jack Hansford shares his Match Report;
Walsall headed to the south coast for the first time since their dramatic great escape at St Mary's two seasons back, only this time the Saddlers headed for Fratton Park to take on former FA Cup winners Portsmouth.
Walsall looked very bright in the first ten minutes and we were looking to pass it around at every opportunity. In truth both 'keepers didn't have too much to do in the first half and it soon turned into a game that was going to be very much ruined by the referee.
The man in the middle I felt got many key decisions wrong, some that might of cost us later in the game.
The opening 45 minutes was contested in hot temperatures and it ended with Portsmouth looking the more likely to get on the scoresheet simply because of Walsall's failure to keep possession.
The second half began in pretty much the same fashion with the Saddlers trying to play down the flanks, whilst Portsmouth looked like their efforts were focussed down the middle, largely struggling to bring their wide men into play.
The opening goal really was outstanding. Ten minutes into the second half Ashley Hemmings broke away from the left after shrugging off Portsmouth's appeals for a free kick. The former Wolves winger then cut inside and played a square ball to James Baxendale who unleashed an unstoppable effort which crept under the crossbar. In truth, it came very much on the break but we didn't care.
Soon after it was 2-0 and Cuvelier came back to haunt his former club with a cool effort that slotted into the corner of the far post. His shot managed to squeeze through a wave of bodies after Jamie Paterson's free kick wasn't properly cleared. The Saddlers were cruising.
Five minutes later, Pompey managed to pull one back through Izale McLeod who was able to stay on his feet long enough to smash the ball home after poor defensive work from Walsall. The corner wasn't properly cleared on several occasions and there was only going to be one outcome.
Although it was only the 69th minute it was going to be a very nervy last twenty minutes as Portsmouth piled on the pressure but the final ball never really came and Walsall took a magnificent three points back to the Midlands.
FT: Portsmouth 1 (McLeod 69') Walsall 2 (Baxendale 56' Cuvelier 63')
Ref: D, Whitestone
There was a moment in the game where David Grof made two world class saves and that could have really been the turning point. Looking back, the Saddlers did create about five or six chances throughout the game which for an away side is very creditable. Admittedly Portsmouth did find it easy at times but the players can be very confident as we go into Tuesday night against Stevenage.
Despite a few defensive scares, Butler and Holden were tremendous and our attacking players were always looking to shoot and test their 'keeper which was pleasing to see.
By: Jack Hansford