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17:19 10th April 2010


THE SADDLERS had to come from a goal behind to beat Tranmere Rovers on a sunny afternoon at Banks's Stadium.

The first sight of goal went to the visitors as Ian Thomas-Moore fired just wide. At the other end, Darren Byfield's low ball into the danger zone was cleared ahead of Dwayne Mattis.

With nine minutes on the clock, Bas Savage showed strength on the right for Tranmere as his cross found its way to Thomas-Moore whose curling effort went inches over the crossbar.

A foul by Ben Gordon on Steve Jones out wide gave The Saddlers a free-kick which RichardTaudnry put too close to the goalkeeper.

A stinging shot from distance by Ash Taylor was pushed away by Rene Gilmartin, who then had to be alert to block from Thomas-Moore as he looked to profit from the resulting corner.

On 23 minutes, a high ball to the far post found Mark Hughes in spec and he headed back across goal where the ball was half-cleared as far as Jones who fired well wide of the target.

It wasn't long until the visitors got their noses in front courtesy of an own goal from Manny Smith and it was Rovers at this stage who were playing with all of the urgency and energy.

But Walsall kept plugging away and the equaliser came eight minutes later when Jones' corner found the head of Smith whose deft header left Luke Daniels in the Rovers' goal standing.

With our tails up, a quick free-kick from Darryl Westlake played in Byfield - who was roundly booed by the visiting faithful throughout the opening period - and he managed to force a corner off Ian Goodison which was ultimately scrambled clear.

The half ended with Walsall on top as a positive run from Jones ended with him dragging his effort wide.

Manny Smith v Tranmere WEB

Gilmartin had t be alert at the start of the second period to win the ball ahead of Craig Curran and then clear long as the visitors came out with purpose.

Some trickery by Byfield ended with him flashing an effort across the face of goal. Then Nicholls used his pace to break away only for his low strike to land just trhe wrong side of the post.

A foul on Jones, who was in full flight, gave The Saddlers a free-kick in a wide position which Smith headed over.

On 65 minutes Taundry dangerously curled in a free-kick which saw Daniels punch clear through a crowd of players to ease the pressure on his side.

The Saddlers took the lead in the 69th minute when some quick feet from Byfield saw him weave his way into the penalty area before applying an expert finish.

A cross-cum-shot from Jones hit the crossbar with Daniels back-peddling, whilst at the other end, Mark Hughes had to defend well to keep the visitors at bay.

There were a couple of changes as firstly Nicholls hobbled off to be replaced by Peter Till and then the lively Byfield was replaced by Sam Parkin.

Jamie Vincent linked up well with Parkin who dug the ball out to find Jones on the far side and he in turn teed up Till for a shooting opportunity but he was wayward with his effort.

The final minute saw Walsall catch the visitors on the break as Jones and Parkin found themselves in a two-v-one situation. Jones took the ball on but his eventual shot lacked the necessary power to trouble Daniels with Parkin in a good position to his left.

In the end it mattered not as Chris Hutchings' side secured a second 2-1 win in a row.

Darren Byfield v Tranmere 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.