Saddler's October Roundup
October began with a visit from play-off hopefuls Carlisle, which was the definition of the old cliché, a game of two halves.
Walsall pretty much controlled the first half proceedings, and deservedly took the lead, when Will Grigg stooped to nod in a brilliantly placed Jamie Paterson free kick,
In the second half roles completely reversed and Carlisle took over, and a well struck 25 yard free kick from Carlisle left-back Matty Robson ensured the northerners left with a share of the spoils.
Next up was a second round tie (a rarity at Walsall) in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy at Spotland against Rochdale.
David Ball put the home side in the lead in the 48th minute, and on the 65th minute Walsall man Kevan Hurst got on the end of loanee Dave Martin`s cross to equalise.
The game ended up rolling into a penalty shootout, which turned disastrous for the Saddlers with Taundry (only introduced in the 90th minute) and Kevan Hurst seeing their penalties saved, Nicholls scored his before Ryan Jarvis blasted his penalty over the bar to end Walsall`s interests in the tournament with a 3-1 shootout victory for Rochdale.
Time for the Saddlers to concentrate on the league again and next up came Wycombe away, another game another draw, with Wycombe man Ben Strevens putting the home side in the lead in the 49th minute before nine minutes from time Alex Nicholls stole onto the end of a questionable back pass and converted to rescue a point for Walsall.
15th of October Preston North End came to town, in a game which not many realistic Saddlers fans were expecting us to get a result from. Apparently no-one read the script to the boys as Walsall, unpredictably managed to turn in a 1-0 win with a goal from Alex Nicholls even losing loanee Dave Martin, in the second half of his final Saddlers game to a red card could not dampen the performance .
A hearty trip to Prenton Park followed to face up against Tranmere saw the Merseysiders take the lead with a top corner effort from Robbie Wier.
Walsall Captain Andy Butler cancelled out the lead, nodding in Jamie Paterson`s cross to send our away support into raptures before Tranmere man Tiriyaki scored a late winner to send the Saddlers home empty handed,
The following Tuesday Exeter made the trip north, and took the lead through experienced, former Wolves youth player Daniel Nardiello on the 8 minute mark. Just four minutes later that man Alex Nicholls latched onto a Kevan Hurst header to level up the scores before Nardiello won it for the southerners with a drive that somehow squirmed past Walsall keeper Jimmy Walker.
The final Saddlers game of October and the second home game in a few days saw MK Dons arrive at the Banks`.
Mk arrived on the back on a four game run without a win, and it wasn`t until Jimmy Walker got sent off for catching the ball outside the box that Dons could take the lead. Dean Smith had controversially decided against placing David Grof on the bench and consequentially Lee Beevers had to take up the gloves. The resulting free kick was curled into the top corner by Dons man Dean Lewington, before ten minutes later ex-Walsall man Jabo Ibehre knocked in a second in controversial circumstances. A steely second half performance from the Saddlers not only saw MK fail to put anything else past our Right-back (who put in a pretty good goalkeeping shift) but Walsall very nearly coming back into the tie with Claude Gnakpa hitting a driving that hit both posts and inexplicably stayed out. A good second half performance from the whole squad preventing what could have been a cricket score without a regulation goalkeeper. A big plus point being new signing Mark Wilson, on a month`s loan from Doncaster proving a key player throughout.