The Bank's Stadium
Walsall survived an early set back and took a share of the honours against Premiership big boys Aston Villa. The Villians named a strong side, including powerhorse Marlon Harewood up front. It was the Premiership opposition that were faster out of the blocks, showing their class as they stretched Walsall with their pace and movement. It was no surprise when they took the lead early on and the goal seemed to indicate that this would be the start of many more. Darren Wrack dallied on the ball, possession was taken off him and a lower cross was fired to the far post, no one was there but Paul Boertian who stuck out a foot and sent the ball into the roof of his own net. Villa continued to press but the Saddlers got to grips with the game before the half time whistle. But the Saddlers looked overwelmed and unwilling to raise their game risking injury or tiredness for the season opener. Eddie Sonko was particulary impressive showing clever touches on the wing.
It was the Gambian International who was replaced at half time , Walsall were now a side willing to raise the bar in search of an equaliser. The Villa side struggled to adapt to the change in tempo of the play but did look dangerous on the break with Shaun Malonely ever willing to break away. The Saddlers kept coming, Hall looked determined to make something happen and Dobson and Sonner were fabulous in midfield, keeping possession and spreading the play.
It was former Northern Ireland International Danny Sonner who should have equalised, free at the back post he spinned his volley into the crowd. Canerio came on for Mooney, Ismael for Butler and then the Saddlers seemed to have a cutting edge. Canerio seems to be getting better every game and Ismael was the most skilled player on the park as the livefire winger cut through the Villa back line at will. The Saddlers were getting closer to an equaliser, McDermott came on for Dobson and a trialist came on for Fox, both impressed.
Ismael broke again, crossing to the back post and Paul Hall stabbed home a deserved equaliser for the Saddlers. The Walsall side survived a late free kick from Villa to hold onto an impressive but tiring draw, will this match be a help or hinderance for Walsall on Saturday?