Writer: Robyn Richards
Date:Monday March 21 2011
Walsall went from zero to hero in 30 short minutes on Saturday as they went from a 2-0 down-and-out to an amazing heartstopping 5-2 victory over Hartlepool United.
Darren Byfield got a welcome recall to the starting lineup after a long injury layoff, Manny Smith started in defence as Olly Lancashire slipped to the bench.
The first half was all too familiar with the healthy 4,234 Saddlers faithful, but a Ledesma substitution on minute 55 inspired the Saddlers to greater things and they reaped their rewards with all 3 points.
The first half was nondescript. The Saddlers were poor, lacklustre and boos returned the Banks's as the relegation train rolls forward.
Macken limped off on 16 minutes and was replaced by Will Grigg.
On minute 20 the Monkey Hangers went one ahead. Gary Liddle sent Manny Smith backtracking and the ball fell to Colin Larkin, who made no mistake to fire past Jimmy Walker. 0-1
Not much else to report so enough of the first half.
The second half started in much the same frustrating vein as the first. Hartlepool went two ahead 6 minutes after the restart as Saddlers conceded another set piece.
Evan Horwood stepped up to take a free kick and Colin Larkin got on the end of it to double the visitor's lead. 0-2
Needing something special to spark the Saddlers to success, Smith sprung pocket rocket Ledesma and the special substitution didn't disappoint.
Four minutes after his arrival, Gray set up Gbarssin, the ball falling to Will Grigg who successfully put the ball into the back of the net. One goal the good and Walsall were back in it. 1-2.
With a burst of sudden energy and rejuvenation, Walsall kicked on and the score was soon level.
It was a pleasure to watch as some fine work by Ledesma set up Darren Byfield who fired home, the stadium roared that the comeback was on and the club captain was scoring again. 2-2.
But the magic was only just beginning. The side were unrecognisable from the first. En Pointe and organised for the rest of the game, Saddlers really let the sun shine on the Bescot. No one could quite believe their eyes!
Grigg was on fire and latched onto the end of a Sam Collins hesitation and he was punished as Julian Gray fired into the net after Scott Linders allowed the ball to sprawl in front of the goal. 3-2.
In front and on fire but the action was far from over for the jubilant (but shocked) fans.
Matthew Richards was on hand this time as the Banks's turned into celebration central on 83 minutes. The left footer picked the ball up from the right and Manny Smith was the lucky scorer of goal number four as he headed into the net. 4-2 and it was party time.
Saddlers went three ahead on 93 minutes as Ledesma sent a sublime free kick flying into the net. It wouldn't be right if the Argentinian had got a share of the goals and throughly deserved his share of the spoils. The Banks's erupted as Ledesma jumped on manager Dean Smith in celebration.
And that was it! What a game! It was shame first half that the old Walsall was fast returning but who cares! They got there in the end 3 points the better and three more goals for the better for the goal difference. It really is Dean's dream with the team he is producing and hopefully the Saddlers can build on that performance as they visit MK Dons on Friday night.
Up The Saddlers!
Date:Monday March 21 2011
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