Posted by: Bescot Banter


Following Saturday afternoon's one-all draw with Notts County, Calum Williams shares his Match Report.
Following Saturday afternoon's one-all draw with Notts County, Bescot Banter columnist Calum Williams shares his Match Report;

Saturday's game at the Banks’s Stadium saw a Saddlers side on top form, face local rivals, Notts County, who were yet to score a point in the league. Walsall had maximum points from their first two games going into this one, with an away win in the cup against Port Vale to boot, and were looking for yet another win, a feat that they hadn't achieved since 1920.

There was just one change for the Saddlers to the usual starting 11, Romaine Sawyers in for Milan Lalkovic, who strained his hamstring whilst on international duty for Slovakia.

It was an open start to the game that saw both sides eager to gain the upper hand, Ashley Hemmings worked a way through early on after some good work from Sawyers, but was closed down well by Białkowski in the County goal.

But today it would be the Saddlers keeper Richard O’Donnell, who would be the man to catch the eye of the supporters. He first saved well from a Ladabie free kick, and then produced a fantastic save to deny Callum McGregor from close range, after an error at the back by Paul Downing.

The game became somewhat scrappy, Craig Westcarr found it hard up front with County players persistently fouling him, much to his frustration. In truth, the Saddlers probably missed the attacking flair of Milan Lalkovic, and had little in the final third, although they also limited County to shots from distance, and O’Donnell played his part to keep the scores level at the break.

H/T: Walsall 0 Notts County 0

The Saddlers made a lively start to the second half, James Baxendale showing immediate intent going forward, but fired over the bar. And 5 minutes after the interval, the positive attitude paid off. Romaine Sawyers taking advantage of the back-peddling County defence, to curl a brilliant shot past the keeper, from 25 yards out.

GOAL: Walsall 1 (Sawyers 50') Notts County 0

The Saddlers began to find their feet going forwards, goalscorer Sawyers showed good vision to play in Craig Westcarr, but as he had been all afternoon, he was put under good pressure from the defence, and his deflected shot was caught by the County number one.

However not long after, Westcarr was guilty of missing a glorious chance of putting the Saddlers two up, a cutting pass from Sam Mantom put him in the clear, but his effort went to wrong side of the post. A real let off for Notts, but another signal of intent from the Saddlers.

Despite some positive Saddlers play, it was The Magpies who looked more dangerous on the break. David Bell was given the space to initially fire over, and then send a deflected volley just wide of the goal.

But these warning signs weren’t enough to alert the Saddlers defence, who were indeed caught on the break with 74 minutes on the clock. Alan Sheehan’s cross found substitute Yoann Arquin, and the French centre forward jumped higher than Mal Benning, before looping his header over Richard O’Donnell.

GOAL: Walsall 1 Notts County 1 (Arquin 74’)

County went on to become the dominant side in the match, Callum McGregor looked hungry for a goal, and forced another good save out of O’Donnell. Troy Hewitt came on for the Saddlers in the hope of taking all 3 points, but this game was to be a case of hanging onto just one.

James Chambers first came to Walsall’s rescue, with a goal-line clearance at full stretch, before Callum McGregor was to be denied again, this time by the upright. Mal Benning did provide a glimmer of hope for the Saddlers with a shot that was tipped over well by the County keeper.

And was to be one final break for The Magpies, with the Saddlers looking shaky at the back, the ball wasn’t cleared, and Yoann Arquin again headed the ball into the back of the net, only for the linesman on the far side, to flag for offside. Hard to see from the Tile Choice stand, but a decision certainly viewed as dubious by the travelling County fans.

On the whole, this was still a good point for the Saddlers, and a good first point of the campaign for County. Romaine Sawyers looks like a great young prospect, his composed finish hopefully the first of many. Walsall were certainly guilty of not talking their chances, but fans wont be too disappointed by this game, albeit slightly hard to watch at times. With Dean Smith’s side sitting in 4th position in the league, there is a still lot of positivity amongst players and fans alike.

F/T: Walsall 1 (Sawyers 50') Notts County 1 (Arquin 73')
ATT: 4,295
REF: Iain Williamson

By: Calum Williams
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