Saddlers launch themselves out of danger zone
Saddlers have left the relegation zone and into calmer waters, with a victory against Exeter City yesterday.
The Grecians went down to ten men just before the break, after Reuben Reid and Matthew Richards hit the target for the Saddlers.
Both this weeks' newboys Davies and Devaney started the game, taking the place of Oliver Lancashire in centre-back and Alex Nicholls on the right wing. Oddly, Oliver Lancashire did not even make the bench after being involved in the last couple of games, with no injury reported.
The match started quite flat and even, with neither team making many clear cut chances. Exeter posed a danger early on when Jamie Cureton fired the ball over the bar from a free kick.
As the half kicked on, Walsall gathered their tempo and this was rewarded on 31 minutes. Macken, was gifted the ball in an elusive position by Exeter's Troy Archibald-Henville, who crossed to Reuben Reid and he made no mistake to put the ball into the back of the net. 1-0. Saddlers were one ahead, but drama was never far away.
Around minute 36 the Saddlers won a corner and much pushing and shoving took place in the box. As the danger was cleared, Andrew Davies was involved in an altercation with Troy Archibald-Henville and a melee ensued, involving several players of both teams. Davies and Archibald-Henville were swiftly shown yellow cards.
As the clock ticked down for half time, Richards doubled the Saddler lead. A perfect cross from Martin Devaney found the head of the 25 year old, who made no mistake of putting the Saddlers in command. 2-0.
As a much boosted Saddler crowd were sitting comfortably, Exeter were condemned to ten men. Already yellow carded Troy Archibald- Henville made a reckless challenge on Reuben Reid and was given his marching orders by referee Graham Salisbury.
Half time was needed to get over the 15 minutes of non-stop action that had ensued. That's what the fans want and what they will return to the Banks's for.
However, Exeter pulled a goal back on minute 52. With a little help from the referee and Manny Smith present in the box, Ryan Harley powered through to get the ball into the back of the net. 2-1.
The remaining 35 minutes was inevitably tense as the Saddlers held onto their lead. Exeter were improved in the second half but a rejuvenated Walsall side kept them at bay.
Some good work from Macken, Devaney and Richards on minute 70 came to nothing, before McGivern set up Devaney who hit the side netting.
Macken left the field on minute 81 to make way for Alex Nicholls, before a double substitution with Steve Jones replacing Julian Gray and Paul Marshall replacing Matthew Richards. Jones made his first appearance after getting injured in the JPT cup defeat to Chesterfield. Rapturous applause welcomed him onto the pitch.
Four minutes were tacked onto the 90, which seemed to go on forever for the Saddler faithful. Exeter came too close for comfort when they fired over the bar following a corner on 91 minutes.
The whistle finally sounded and Walsall went out 3 points for the better. It was not a pretty performance but at times like this it doesn't matter. Walsall are out of the relegation zone with a much needed win. We now look ahead to visiting Dagenham and Redbridge next Saturday.