Reaction from home game against Hartlepool
The Saddlers coasted to a well deserved and entertaining 3-1 win over Hartlepool in a sunny Banks`s stadium. Goals from Gray, Deeney and Taundry sent the crowd home happy and tanned.
Despite the final entertainment, the first 5 minutes were quite drab with long balls from the back from both teams interspersed with head tennis. However on 7 minutes Saddlers got off the mark. Big Clayton Macdonald passed simply to Deeney who flicked through to Nichols who then fed the energetic Jones. Jones made the bye line and crossed superbly to Gray at the far post. His initial volley was charged down and in the resulting clearance attempt the ball rebounded off him and into the net. 1-0 to the Super Saddlers
Two minutes later the lead was nearly doubled with another great run by Jones who crossed to the far post again, unfortunately Richards` stretching attempt went wide.
The goal turned the entertainment on. The front two for Hartlepool were pressing and busy with the on loan O`Donovan closing down quickly. However the Saddlers back four were in control, providing a solid and organised defence.
This did not last completely - on 26 minutes a great crossfield ball found a Hartlepool forward requiring Gilmartin to pull off a first class save. Then a minute later a fantastic through ball let O`Donovan beat the offside trap, he cleverly rounded the keeper to slot home. 1-1
Normal Service was resumed 2 minutes later, via route one. A powerful header out from McDdonald found Deeney in the area, as the ball dropped Deeney claimed his space then strongly shrugged off the Hartlepool defenders to slot the ball into the bottom right hand corner . 2-1
The game was in Walsall`s control. The back four of Weston, Smith, McDonal d and Vincent won every ball in the air. The engine room of the tigerish tackling Taundry and Richards` precision and intelligent passing kept the team ticking. Speedy wing play from Gray and the tricky Jones kept opposition defender s on the back foot and the strength of Deeney and speed and energy of Nichols kept the centrebacks worried all game.
On 40 a good chance from Gray was blocked by the Hartlepool defence. There then followed three ferocious tackles from Taundry that kept the crowd vocal. Each one was perfectly fair, but if he had missed by one inch on any of them, a straight red would have been the result!
Half time 2-1
The second half started lively for Hartlepool. They came straight out of the blocks and in the first minute a good shot stop fell to O`Donovan who fortunately blasted over. A lucky escape!
On 50 minutes a misjudged bounce led to a handball by Manny Smith and was awarded a yellow card
Hartlepool continued pressing and although they were on top for a while, the Walsall defence and the crowd were not troubled. We knew it was our day.
On 65 minutes Hartlepool`s Sam Collins was turned again by the fleet footed Nichols, Collins pulled him back and received a yellow. The resultant free-kick from Taundry fell tamely into Flinders hands.
On 70 minutes magical feet and persistence from Gray on our left side led to him leaving three defenders in his wake. He made the back line and supplied a great cross which was just out of reach by the red`s forwards
On 73 Nicholls left Collins for dead again and a brilliant cross only just missed by Jones
The best move of the game followed on 75 minutes. A pass from Taundry found Gray in the area. He neatly swapped passes with Deeney, and Taundry`s drive into the area was rewarded with a pass through which he then neatly passed past the keeper into the bottom right hand corner. 3-1.
The crowd were on their feet and the yellow t-shirts bearing the 'Unity, We want our Freehold back` slogan were in full view.
At this point Peter Till came on for Jones
Hartlepool came back into the game a little after that and on 82 minutes a series of four or five heroic blocks from the Walsall defenders and midfield kept the visitors at bay, and on 84 minutes the ball was cleared off the line by Smith.
On 86 minutes a powerful
strike from Richards from just outside the area smashed against the underside of the bar and bounced down and out. One inch lower and it would have been the goal of the season!
For the next few minutes the crowd were entertained by the speed of our wingers and frontmen and the relentless energy from Richards and man-of-the-match Taundry.
The final whistle blew on an entertaining and deserved 3-1 win for our boys.
It was an excellent display by all accounts!
With a nice little string of results these past couple of weeks, 10th spot is still in our grasp. One can hope! How do you think our chances fare? Discuss in the forum!