The Banks Stadium
Tommy Mooney celebrated his 36th birthday with a clinical finish to give Walsall a share of the points against a useful Carlisle side. Walsall started with the surprise absense of Martin Butler from the sixteen squad with Claudio Carnerio taking his place. The Cumbrains had Zigor Aranalde installed at left back.
The Saddlers were woeful in the first half, making errors all over the place and it was no surprise when Carlisle took the lead after nineteen minutes. Ince poorly hit a goal kick to a Carlisle player who played the ball over to Kevin Gall. The former Newcastle United striker took the ball on and emphatically volled past the Trinidadian goalkeeper. Darren Wrack at right back had played him onside and found himself on the wrong side of the striker.
Walsall finally got to grips with the game, with Paul Hall looking particulary dangerous constantly beating Zigor out on the flank. But Carnerio struggled to get into the game, adjusting to the pace of the English game.
Walsall started the second half much brighter and soon equalised. Mooney twisted and turned before firing a low strike across the goal and in off the far post, an excellent strike. Walsall tried for more and Mooney could have had a second soon afterwards. A cross to the far post was headed down towards goal, Westwood in the Cumbrain goal made a good save, the ball came back to Mooney but the keeper made a brave save with his body. Both sides tired badly in the exhausting heat but it was the Saddlers who looked more likely to get a winner, as they dominated play and possession. Hall was replaced by Alex Nicholls and Troy Denney came on for Carnerio, who did much better in the second half. Both the younger players did well, but weren't good enough to break down the Carlisle defence. It was a shame that a young Ismale Demontagnac was suspended, as it seemed the stage was set for a moment of his brilliance.
Overall, Walsall started poorly but looked like a much improved side in the second half, though they did miss Butler running the channels. Carlisle United will be around the play-off shake up at the end of the season and there'll be much weaker opposition arriving at the Banks' the season.
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