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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
15:00 14th February 2014
By  Andrew Poole

WALSALL v PORT VALE

THERE was plenty of love in the air as The Saddlers stepped out for this Valentine's Day clash with Staffordshire neighbours, Port Vale.

Dean Smith's side went into the game on the back of successive victories and unlike the previous game, it was a more cagey opening with neither 'keeper tested in the opening stages.

A cross from Jordan Cook was just too high for James Baxendale at the far post with ten minutes on the clock.

Some excellent play by Adam Chambers saw him leave two players trailing in his wake as he launched a raid which ended with Romaine Sawyers' low strike saved.

There were appeals for a penalty in the next attack as Sawyers went down but the referee was unmoved.

With 23 minutes on the clock, Sawyers did well to thread a ball through to Jordy Hiwula and as he lined up a strike, he was brought down from behind. The referee again waved play on.

Just before the half-hour mark, a combination of James O'Connor and Richard O'Donnell did well to deny Ben Williamson but from the resulting corner, Tom Pope found the net to open the scoring for the visitors.

A neat move by The Saddlers as half-time approached ended with Sawyers cutting inside and striking the post as Vale survived.

There was a foul on Jordan Cook right on the edge of the area to give Walsall a free-kick in a threatening position. The defensive wall denied Cook as Taylor put the rebound well wide of the target.

It was The Saddlers who were asking all of the questions of at the end of the opening period as we went in a goal down.

The second half started with a good chance for Jordy Hiwula as he latched onto a Sawyers pass, but as he lifted the ball over the 'keeper it landed just wide of the mark.

At the other end, Taylor was booked for a foul to give The Valiants a free-kick in a promising position which O'Donnell kept out from Michael O'Connor but he needed James O'Connor to complete the clearance.

The first Walsall change came on 55 minutes when James Baxendale was replaced by Ashley Grimes.

O'Donnell did well to deny the visitors at his near post before The Saddlers forced a couple of corners in quick succession as Vale cleared their lines.

On 73 minutes, Rico Henry replaced Hiwula.

With around ten minutes to go, Jordan Murphy was given his chance as he replaced Michael Cain.

A melee just inside the area saw the ball fall out to Grimes whose strike was blocked before a free-kick from Taylor forced a save out of Chris Neal.

In stoppage time, Cook did well to fashion a chance for himself but his strike was well saved by Chris Neal, who also prevented a corner.

The game ended with The Saddlers losing by a goal to nil.

    QUICK FACTS

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