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22:05 29th September 2009


THE SADDLERS chalked up a deserved first home win of the season as we came from behind to beat the much-fancied Huddersfield Town by two goals to one.

It was a lively start by Walsall and on five minutes Darren Byfield curled an effort just wide from outside the area.

A foul on Alex Nicholls gave The Saddlers a free-kick out wide which Rhys Weston delivered invitingly into the area and although Clayton McDonald's diving header struck the post, the offside flag had already been raised.

On 11 minutes a stooping header from Dwayne Mattis was deflected wide and from the resulting flag-kick, a misjudgement from Alex Smithies in the visitors' goal saw Antony Kay forced to head off the line as the loose ball was scrambled clear.

It was a purposeful start to the game by Chris Hutchings' side and after Mattis saw an effort clip the post on its way agonsingly wide, a good touch by Nicholls found Darren Byfield who in turn teed up Deeney for an effort from distance that dipped just over.

On the half-hour mark a cross from the Huddersfield left was deflected onto the head of Theo Robinson by Mark Hughes but his effort from a good position was straight at Rene Gilmartin.

A foul by Clarke on Nicholls gave Walsall a free-kick in another promising position which Matt Richards fired past the wall only for Smithies to make a smart low save.

As half-time approached, Byfield threaded through Deeney who was brought down by Clake as he entered the area but all he got for his troubles was a yellow card for diving.

The half ended with Kay firing well over for the visitors.


The second period started in the worst possible fashion when a long ball set Robinson racing away. The offside flag stayed down as he drew Gilmartin before rounding the 'keeper and slotting home.

The goal gave the visitors a real lift and a burst on the left by Rhodes saw his cross almost reach strike partner, Robinson by McDonald just got enough on it to deflect the ball away from danger.

Some tricky play by Byfield caused problems in the 57th minute as he forced a corner which came to nothing.

The Saddlers were given a way back into the game just past the hour-mark when a penalty was awarded for handball as Nicholls looked to profit. Birthday boy Darren Byfield stepped up to slot home the equaliser.

Walsall had to defend in numbers at the other end to deny Rhodes just inside the penalty area on what was a generally frustrating evening for the talented teenager.

With Sam Parkin on in place of Byfield, a burst by Nicholls saw him win a free-kick in a promising position out wide but Weston over-hit it and the opportunity was lost.

As the clock ticked down, Richards whipped in a ball that found the head of Parkin who teed up Mattis to fire home against his home-town club to make it 2-1 with just three minutes to go.

There was still time for Huddersfield to threaten as some desperate defending saw Gilmartin and Hughes block bravely to keep The Terriers at bay as they piled men into the box.

The final minute saw Steve Jones replace Nicholls as The Saddlers held on to secure a first home win of the season.

Now let's build on it this coming Saturday when we return to the Banks's Stadium for the visit of Carlisle United.


PHOTOS: David Linney Photography

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.