Report: Walsall 2-1 Plymouth Argyle
Walsall are celebrating tonight after a tremendous victory at the Banks's Stadium against Plymouth Argyle.
Byfield was ruled out of the clash with a reported Achilles problem, which made way for Reuben Reid to get his debut up front. Fellow new boy Macken did not appear in the team, as he gets back to match fitness.
The Saddlers started with brightly, leading possession and creating good chances. Jones went close early on after some positive work by Gray. He went on to have a great first half, as he chased the ball down the right hand side.
Richards saw the ball go wide a few minutes later as Gray fed the ball to Reid and then to the 25 year old, but the shot was achingly aside from the goal.
McGivern impressed throughout as he led the line at the back with some great work as the ball occasionally made it to the Walsall goal.
Taundry had a shot on 13 minutes, but the shot was easily saved by the Plymouth goalie.
Jones had two chances in quick succession around the middle of the first half, but one went of the bar and one unluckily hit the post. The Saddlers were firmly in control of the game but the final finish eluded them.
However, despite the lead in possession, Plymouth got the lead on minute 29. Sam Mason found himself in a central position to bounce the ball in the back of the net.
As half time loomed, a few chances went begging as the Saddlers recovered from the goal.
Lescott went down on 39 minutes, but soon found his feet. However, Jones went down shortly before half time clutching his right leg and Lescott immediately called for a substitution. He limped off with a knee injury and was replaced by Paul Marshall. It was sad to see him go after a decent performance.
As the second half kicked off,Walsall continued to dominate in possession. Reid had chance on 48 minutes, but the effort was saved.
Walsall get their equaliser on 53 minutes. Reid did some excellent work to the left on the goal, passed to Gray, then the ball went to Marshall who headed it into the bottom left of the net.
Plymouth then put the ball away again, but the effort was ruled offside. The Saddlers were in full voice by this point as the Saddlers continued to pressurise the Devon club. On 65 minutes, excellent passing was seen between Richards, McGivern and Gray, but the eventual shot was blocked.
On 69 minutes, Reuben Reid gifted the Saddlers the winner on his debut. He executed some fantastic work to the left of the goal before feeding to Gray, received the ball back, beat the Plymouth keeper with some skillful footwork and drilled it in the net. The Banks's stadium exploded in delight at the new addition.
However, the action was far from over.
Brain saved the ball with his feet after a Plymouth danger shortly after the goal, a stroke of good luck after an inconsistent game from him.
Mcgivern had an altercation with Plymouth's Dean Parrett around minute 71, but, as tempers flared, both received a talking to and the game continued.
Two substitutes ensued around minute 83 as McDonald replaced Smith and Grigg replaced goal hero Reid, who received a standing ovation. As the clocked ticked down, the Saddler fans were clinging to the lead.
Nicholls found an excellent chance down the centre, but was denied by a foul by Plymouth's Karl Amason. As adrenaline flew around the Banks's, the referee made no hesitation than to reach for a red card. The resulting free kick taken by Matthew Richards was tipped just over the bar, with the chance a perfect opportunity to end the game.
All in all, it was a truly entertaining, eventful and positive game, with all areas of the team greatly improving. Reuben Reid got the sponsors man on the match award after his winner. Other outstanding players included Steve Jones, Ryan McGivern, Julian Gray and Matthew Richards, who held the ball well in central midfield.
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