Earlier this evening, Walsall Football Club travelled to the Wirral to take on Tranmere Rovers in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, Northern Area Semi Final.
Earlier this evening, Walsall Football Club travelled to the Wirral to take on Tranmere Rovers in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, Northern Area Semi Final.

It was Walsall that had the first opportunity of the game, Michael Cain's free kick fell to Paul Downing, whose shot was blocked and scrambled clear by Tranmere.

Soon after, Rico Henry, who was making his full debut, surged down the Walsall left only to be stopped by a good piece of Tranmere defending.

Then, following a good passage of play, Saddlers summer signing Jordan Cook beat his man and sent in a shot which went just wide of the post, with Rovers 'keeper Owain Fon Williams scrambling.

Liam Ridehalgh then won Rovers their first corner of the game, but Max Power's ball in was dealt with by the Saddlers defence.

The Saddlers then swept up the other end only for Cook to be brought down by Donacien, Cain took the kick, and sent it over the bar, a good chance wasted.

Jordan Cook then fed the returning Tom Bradshaw who was one-on-one with Fon Williams, the 'keeper came out on top by saving the shot with his feet, maybe a little rust from the Saddlers top-scorer.

Soon after, Welsh international Fon Williams denied Bradshaw again, this time by parrying his shot, Rovers then went straight up the other end, Cole Stockton brining out the best in Richard O'Donnell.

Max Power then won, and took a corner which was cleared by ever-present James Chambers.

The Saddlers were then awarded a free kick which Michael Cain took, Fon Williams could only parry the effort but Ridehalgh was on hand to clear as Tom Bradshaw lurked.

After around thirty-eight minutes Tranmere took the lead, Donacien and Ridehalgh combined to allow ever-present Max Power to send a curling effort around his marker and into the corner of the net, Richard O'Donnell a little unsighted.

Michael Cain had a deflected shot saved by Fon Williams as the Saddlers looked for a swift response.

After forty-three minutes Rovers won another corner, Max Power took it and Odejayi rose high above his marker and powered a header past a helpless Richard O'Donnell.

The Saddlers were unable to get a goal back as Rovers controlled the final few minutes of the half.


Walsall made a change ahead of kick off, as Jordan Cook, who had picked up a knock, was replaced by Anthony Forde.

Tranmere had the second half's first sight of goal as Danny Holmes' shot hit the side netting, Rovers looked to have started the second half in good spirits.

The home side then won a corner, which was sent in by Max Power, Donacien's header was saved by O'Donnell as the ball looked destined for the back of the net.

As Max Power found the back of the net, this time from an offside position, Walsall made their second change, Mathieu Manset replacing James Baxendale, Smith looking for extra fire-power.

Rovers then won a corner, Power's cross found Ihiekwe, but his ball back in was easily cleared.

Just past the hour mark Richard O'Donnell was again called in-to action, this time to deny Jennings.

The Saddlers got a goal back through Anthony Forde, the winger getting into the box following a good ball from Purkiss, then cutting inside his marker and sending the ball past Fon Williams.

The Saddlers began to take at least some control with Romaine Sawyers and Mathieu Manset both having efforts saved.

Rovers became boxed in their own half as the Saddlers looked for an equaliser, referee Geoff Eltringham even waiving away a penalty protest as the defence struggled to cope.

Forde had a deflected shot saved, the resulting corner came to nothing. This was the pattern of the game, as both sides attacked but faltered in the final third.

Walsall equalised through Leicester City midfielder Michael Cain, the 19-year-old scoring with a sublime 25-yard effort, Fon Williams with no chance to save.

The match became more fragmented as we headed to full time, with both sides winning corners and looking to make space for a shot.

Late on, Tom Bradshaw broke into the box only to send his effort wide of the post, seemingly expecting a challenge to come in.

Marc Laird also sent a shot wide, both sides with chances to win the match late in the half.

James Chambers was replaced by Ashley Grimes as Dean Smith considered his penalty options.

The match finished all square, and we headed for a penalty shoot out.

  FULL TIME    TRANMERE ROVERS     2      WALSALL     2   
  GOALS   POWER 37', ODEJAYI 43' -- FORDE 63', CAIN 80' 

The Saddlers went on to defeat their opponents 4-5 on penalties, Ashley Grimes missed for the Saddlers, but George Donnelly hit the bar for the hosts, which was followed up by a sudden-death miss from Liam Ridehalgh, O'Donnell giving Walsall a fresh shot at victory.

Walsall Vice-Captain Paul Downing took the Saddlers' next spot kick, and beat Fon Williams, taking the Reds just two games from their first visit to Wembley stadium.

  FULL TIME    TRANMERE ROVERS     2      WALSALL     2   
 PENALTIES  4-5 (Sudden death) 

VENUE: Prenton Park, Birkenhead.
COMPETITION: Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
REFEREE: Mr. Geoff Eltringham, County Durham.

 TRANMERE ROVERS  Fon Williams; Holmes, Donacien, Holness, Ihiekwe, Ridehalgh, Power, Jennings, Rowe (Laird 76'), Stockton (Donnelly 82'), Odejayi

 SUBS NOT USED  Pilling, Woodards, Jahraldo-Martin

 WALSALL  O'Donnell; Purkiss, J.Chambers (Grimes 90'), Downing, Henry; A.Chambers ©, Cain; Baxendale (Manset 54'), Sawyers, Cook (Forde 45'); Bradshaw

 SUBS NOT USED  MacGillivray; O'Connor
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