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22:09 26th January 2010


A MUCH-improved performance from The Saddlers ended with late heartbreak as League One leaders, Norwich City snatched two late goals to win 2-1 at the Banks's Stadium.

There was a good tempo to the game in the opening exchanges, although neither 'keeper was tested in the first ten minutes other than a routine stop by Clayton Ince from Simon Lappin's strike from distance after Oli Johnson had dug the ball out from the right.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Rhys Weston delivered a free-kick to the edge of the area where the ball fell out to Matt Richards whose powerful low strike was blocked by Lappin.

At the other end, Johnson found space before lifting the ball over the advancing Ince, however both Clayton McDonald and Manny Smith were on hand to clear the danger.

A ball forward from Smith was expertly headed into the path of Mark Bradley by Darren Byfield only for his effort to land well wide of the target.

Just before the half-hour mark, Byfield dragged an effort narrowly wide from distance as The Saddlers certainly gave the League leaders plenty to think about.

The opening goal arrived on 34 minutes when Deeney broke away from Gary Doherty before rounding the advancing Fraser Forster in the visitors' goal and slotting the ball into the unguaded net to silence the large travelling contingent behind the goal.

It gave Chris Hutchings' men a deserved lead going into the break.


Norwich started the second half with vigor and Russell Martin went close as he dipped an effort over. Walsall also had the bit between their teeth and some good battling play by Byfield saw him set up Deeney who was denied by a timely challenge as he pulled the trigger.

After Chris Martin had seen an effort fly inches wide for the visitors, a purposeful break by Hoolahan saw The Saddlers get numbers back to halt his progress inside the area, however as the ball fell loose, Stephen Hughes lashed an effort well off target.

Hoolahan was getting more involved in the action and after he went to ground under Dwayne Mattis' challenge, the resulting free-kick presented The Canaries with a free-kick in a promising position that Lappin curled goalwards but it failed to trouble Ince.

A corner from Hoolahan then saw Ince acrobatically punch clear as the resulting flag-kick was headed over.

On 68 minutes, a brave towering header at the far post from McDonald was cleared from in front of goal as the ball looped beyond Forster.

There was a change as Josh O'Keefe replaced Mattis with 20 minutes to go before a deep cross from Jamie Vincent caused concern for the visiting 'keeper who tipped the ball over the crossbar.

The equalising goal arrived on 76 minutes when a Hoolahan corner beat Ince who tried to claim through a crowd of players and Chris Martin was on hand to turn the ball home.

The goal gave the visitors a real boost and a stinging drive from the edge of the area by Darel Russell was fingertipped over by Ince.

Norwich's pressing was rewarded with the winner on 85 minutes as substitute Cody McDonald's effort went in off the post.

It was rough justice on Walsall who sent on Sam Parkin in place of Till and in the closing stages Byfield turned sharply inside the area to set up a shooting chance that Forster beat away.

There was a booking for Parkin right at the end as The Saddlers came out of the game with nothing to show for their efforts.


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.