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12:15 3rd May 2015
By  Andrew Poole


THE SADDLERS stepped out for the final time this season at League One Champions, Bristol City.

There was a party atmosphere at Ashton Gate and the opening exchanges saw both teams showing a willingness to get forward and pass the ball at every opportunity.

Walsall took the lead on 11 minutes when Ben Purkiss found Sam Mantom who drove at the heart of the City defence before playing in Jordi Hiwula who stayed calm to slot home.

The lead lasted four minutes when Emmanuel-Thomas' low ball across the face of goal was cleared for a corner by Purkiss and from the resulting flag-kick, the ball found its way out to centrak defender, Aden Flint who volleyed home sweetly.

Some good work on the by-line by Bradshaw saw his pull-back scrambled clear ahead of Hiwula.

At the other end, City won a penalty for handball by Kieron Morris. Emmanuel-Thomas stepped up a calmly slotted the ball beyond Craig MacGillivray's reach to give the home side the lead.

The Saddlers looked to get back into it straight away as a neat move ended with Morris' strike from the edge of the area gathered by Frank Fielding.

The equaliser came from Hiwula who spotted a gap and slotted the ball home beyond the unsighted 'keeper after Morris' strike was deflected to him, to make it 2-2 on 36 minutes.

It was an entertaining opening period, with both sides playing neat football on a good surface.

The second period started with Craig MacGillivray saving well to deny Agard from close range.

The game continued to ebb and flow, with Walsall looking sharp on the counter and Hiwula in particular looking lively.

It was when a Saddlers' corner broke down that City were able to launch a counter-attack as Agard finished the move to make it 3-2 on 57 minutes.

Shortly afterwards, Thomas did well on the right to cross for Pack who fired home to make it 4-2. Then Thomas used his strength to power inside the area and lash the ball home to give MacGillivray no chance.

It was soon 6-2 as Flint swept home. In the wake of the goal, a triple change saw Benning, Purkiss and Cain replaced by Taylor, Downing and Sawyers on 68 minutes.

There was a booking for Adam Chambers for a foul in the middle of the park.

A strike from Sawyers was claimed by Fielding diving to his right as we approached the final ten minutes. Then Taylor tried his luck from distance but it was straight at the 'keeper.

As the clock ticked down, Flint completed his hat-trick to make it 7-2 and then in the final minute, Agard added another to make it 8-2.

It was a disappointing way to conclude the 2014/15 campaign.


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