Following Tuesday evening's Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash with rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bescot Banter columnist Sam Wright shares his Match Report.
Following Tuesday evening's Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash with rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bescot Banter columnist Sam Wright shares his Match Report;

As we embarked on our first game in the Johnstones Paint Trophy this season there was definitely that buzz of a local derby, and despite all the talk about this game not meaning much because of the competition it was in it was clear to see how much both sets of fans wanted to win this game.

However, it has to be admitted that after Preston on Saturday there were a few worries that our Black Country neighbours could steamroll us and it could maybe turn a bit embarrassing, this slight fear seemed to be becoming a reality as Liam McAlinden finished from close range in just the fourth minute to put Wolves 1-0 up.

The home side went on to dominate spells in the first half as some of our frailties showed again. Lalkovic struggled to hold the ball in attack, and many of our half chances broke down before we managed to get a shot away. It is unfair to criticise some of our young individuals in a local derby, but some inexperience did show going forward.

We did remain solid at the back though and the game did for a while become rather dull, as Wolves seemed to be relying on Bakary Sako shots, all of which were from thirty yards and none troubling Richard O’Donnell’s net.

H/T: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (L.McAlinden ‘4) Walsall 0

As the second half began we found that Smith had learned from our poor showing on Saturday and had made his change early. Lalkovic made way for Craig Westcarr who came on to partner Sawyers as we looked to get into the game. We looked a different side with this new setup, more attacking intent, more ambition, and it showed almost straight away.

Just under 10 minutes into the half, a nice move saw Westcarr able to put an inviting ball across, which former Wolves Winger Ash Hemmings got to with a brilliant diving header and gave ex-Walsall loanee Aaron McCarey in the Wolves goal no chance, Walsall level and still a long time to go. We continued to impress after this, keeping possession well and trying to find an opening. The best chance we had in the minutes to follow was a Baxendale header from deep inside the box, where he seemed to get stuck between shooting or crossing the ball and ended up just heading a good way wide.

The game then took yet another turn, this time in favour of our opponents. After a flurry of Wolves corners Adam Chambers was adjudged to be holding onto young Wolves defender Danny Batth. Quite controversial when it looked similar to the jostling you would see at any corner kick. Nonetheless though, Downing was booked for his protest and Sako would step up to give Wolves the lead. He needed a rebound though after his original effort was saved by O’Donnell.

We knew after this that we would have to chase the game. Smith took off the two wingers, Baxendale and Hemmings, and bought on Troy Hewitt and Sam Mantom in an attempt to salvage something as we were still looking the better side in large spells. It took until the 84th minute for the Saddlers to send the fans into a frenzy in the Steve Bull Lower once more, as Hewitt smashed home with his left foot from inside the box to make it 2-2. Obviously, getting a late equaliser, we would usually have been happy to see penalties, but a glorious chance for Craig Westcarr minutes from the end should have been the one that won it for us. The ball was motionless in the box, inviting anybody to score, and he got to it first and fired over the bar from inside the area, and penalties became inevitable.

Any long serving Walsall fans will know once it goes to penalties we’re certainly not one of the most prolific sides, and it proved that way again. Westcarr and Taylor both missing either side of a successful Sigurdarson penalty saw us 1-0 down having taken an extra penalty. O’Donnell was then booked for throwing the ball to Sako who seemingly let it roll past him, and everything seemed to be going wrong. Sako netted his before we finally found some form. Mantom and Downing both scored, but Wolves successful penalty in the middle of those meant ex-Walsall loanee David Davis had the penalty to win it. He slotted it in well, and that was that.

A good performance in the second half especially,  and really just what we needed despite coming out losers after the shootout. The midfield looked 100% better than the weekend and despite conceding twice we looked like we could cope with anything they had for most of the game. Roll on the 17th for a bit of revenge!

F/T: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 (McAlinden 4’ Sako (Pen) 63’) Walsall 2 (Hemmings 53’ Hewitt 84’)
REF: Darren Deadman
ATT: 13,481

Penalty Shootout:
Westcarr    x       Sigurdarson    o
Taylor         x       Sako                 o
Mantom    o       Doherty           o
Downing    o       Davis                o

My MOTM: Nicky Featherstone

By: Sam Wright

What are your views on last night's game? Share them in the comments box below!
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