Walsall 3-1 Preston North End - Report
13/09/2014 - 15:00
The Saddlers finally decided to join the 2014/15 League One party with a much needed and thoroughly deserved win in a refreshingly entertaining game at the Banks`s this afternoon.
Another change in shape resulted in us lining up with Tom Bradshaw (who the bloke behind insists on calling Bradley!!!) as a lone striker, Romaine Sawyers slotted back into the hole, with Mal Benning and Anthony Forde playing as out and out wide men. The other notable change saw the returning Andy Butler slot into the heart of the defence, with Kinsella making way for O`Connor who shuffled across to right back.
It all worked a treat, and within seven minutes the Saddlers were in front. Preston attempted to break out from a corner, were dispossessed and, after Reece Flanagan had played a through ball to Adam Chambers, the skipper squared the ball across the box for Sawyers to stab home.
Sawyers had returned from the Caribbean rejuvenated and was even winning challenges as well as causing the visitors all sorts of problems. The Saddlers for their part were looking pretty comfortable at 1-0, but that was until a counter attack ten minutes before the break saw the visitors pull level when Joe Garner smashed home a quality finish from the edge of the box. Garner almost put the visitors in front moments later when a slack pass from Downing bounced up in front of him and, from all of 45 yards, smashed a volley over the stranded Richard O`Donnell and just inches wide of the goal.
The home side needed half time and, having managed to get there with the scores level, went on to dominate the second half from start to finish. The half was just four minutes old when Forde went sprinting off down the right hand side and produced an excellent cross that saw Bradshaw plant a bullet header past the visiting keeper for his 4th goal in seven league games.
Preston`s chances of coming back into the game again were seriously hampered midway through the second half when Jordan Hugill, who had provided the assist for Garner`s goal, reacted to a strong Butler challenge by planting his forehead on our former skipper and was promptly sent off. O`Donnell was extremely lucky not to follow him down the tunnel having sprinted all of 30 yards to shove Hugill to the ground. Fortunately, our ever present number 1 got away with a caution.
The game was over with fifteen minutes to go when another excellent Forde delivery, this time from a corner on the left, was met full on by Paul Downing who thumped his header home and wrap up the points.
We could have had more too, with Billy Clifford and Benning both going close in the later stages. But 3-1 against a side unbeaten going into today, and are arguably the best team we`ve played this season, is something must surely kick start our season. Let`s hope it`s the start of another long unbeaten run.