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17:32 5th April 2010


THE SADDLERS chalked up a 2-1 Easter Monday victory over relegation-threatened Wycombe Wanderers at Banks's Stadium.

A pacy burst by Jon-Paul Pittman saw him get away from Rhys Weston in the fifth minute before he fired wide of the target.

Within a minute, Walsall had the lead when Julian Gray did well to win a corner which he delivered invitingly himself onto the head of Manny Smith who made no mistake.

Just before the quarter-hour mark, Jamie Vincent;s intelligent ball almost played in Darren Byfield via Dwayne Mattis' deft touch, but Tom Heaton in the visitors' goal was alert to gather at the crucial moment.

A counter-attack from The Saddlers in the 18th minute was launched by Jamie Vincent, who returned to the left-back role, and he set Alex Nicholls racing away on the left only for his cross into the area to evade everyone.

A foul by Gray on former Saddlers' loanee, Gareth Ainsworth presented Wycombe with a free-kick in a dengerous position which Kevin M,cLeod curled harmlessly off target.

On 21 minutes the lead was doubled when some neat play on the left involving Richard Taundry, Alex Nicholls and Darren Byfield saw the ball fall at the feet of Gray who curled home a superb left-footed shot that went in off the post to give Heaton no chance.

There was an excellent block by Gilmartin to deny Ainsworth who found himself in acres of space at the far post following a cross from the left by Pittman. Gilmartin did well to come out and narrow the angle and deflect the ball wide with his back.

As the half wore on, a foul on Byfield gave The Saddlers a free-kick just outside the area, but Taundry was wasteful. Shortly afterwards there was a booking for Byfield for a strong challenge on Adam Hinshelwood just inside the Wycombe half.

The half ended with the visitors having a couple of chances to reduce the arrears. Firstly, Pittman once again used his pace to good efect only to see his low strike saved by Gilmartin as Vincent was on hand to clear the loose ball under pressure. Then Stuart Beavon tried his luck from distance only for his effort to creep wide of the mark.

Saddlers Celebrate v Wycombe WEB

The second period started with Matt Bloomfield dipping a shot just over before Dean Keates' free-kick fell narrowly wide.

Some fine defending by Vincent in the 55th minute saw him break down the left before playing in Nicholls whose strike was blocked.

Jones then saw his effort blocked by Craig Woodman in the next attack as he then lashed the rebound wide.

Some neat play between Byfield and Jones saw the latter get in a strike that Heaton was able to save without too many problems.

With 68 minutes on the clock, Byfield's touch played in Nicholls but Heaton was alert to win a full-blooded and honest challenge for the ball a long way outside his area.

After Taundry's cross was headed wide by Nicholls, Wycombe pulled a goal back as Hinshelwood turned the ball home at the near post to set up a tense final 15 minutes.

There was a change as Sam Parkin replaced Nicholls then shortly afterwards Mark Bradley came on in place of Jones.

In between, Gilmartin had to be brave to deny Ainsworth as the visitors searched for an equaliser.

With five minutes to go, Gilmartin did well once more to produce a good take from Lewis Montrose's powerful strike. The visitors were starting to build up a head of steam in their quest to nick a point from the game and The Saddlers had to defend in numbers to halt a late raid as Wycombe pushed men forward.

A break by Byfield with just three minutes to go almost sealed the game, however, his run ended with a tame strike.

In the end it didn't matter as Walsall claimed the three points to take us through the 50-point mark.

Darren Byfield v Wycombe WEB

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.