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19:45 9th December 2014
By  Andrew Poole


THE SADDLERS got back onto the Johnstone's Paint Trophy trail with a trip to Tranmere in the northern area semi-final on a windy night on the Wirral.

It was a lively start for Walsall as a free-kick from the left by Michael Cain is half-cleared into the path of Paul Downing whose effort is blocked. Then a positive burst from teenage debutant, Rico Henry sees him make good progress before the home side scrambled clear.

A neat move from The Saddlers saw Henry involved again as he found Jordan Cook who flashed a low effort just wide of the target.

There was a chance for the returning Tom Bradshaw who was played through by Cook only for the 'keeper to make an important block to deny him.

At the other end, Richard O'Donnell did well to thwart Cole Stockton.

It was the home side who took the lead on 37 minutes when Max Power was given time and space to curl home an effort beyond Richard O'Donnell.

The lead was doubled soon afterwards when a corner from the Rovers' right was met by a towering header from Kayode Odejayi.

As the wind and the rain lashed down, the half-time whistle sounded to see The Saddlers go in at the break two goals down.

There was an enforced change at the break as Jordan Cook took a knock on the ankle and was replaced by Anthony Forde.

The next raid saw O'Donnell saw superbly to keep Rovers at bay following a corner as Ridehalgh got in a header.

A second Walsall change saw Mathieu Manset on for James Baxendale on 54 minutes.

The Saddlers got ourselves back into it when Ben Purkiss did well to find Forde who twisted and turned before firing home to make it 2-1.

With the travelling faithful in good voice, Walsall went forward again as Purkiss crossed well for Manset whose header lacked the necessary power to trouble the 'keeper.

The home side had to defend for their lives as The Saddlers upped the pressure in search of an equaliser.

The goal that we had threatened came when Michael Cain fired home from distance with a sweet strike that gave the 'keeper no chance to make it 2-2!

It was an open game with both teams going at it as the clock ticked down. Sawyers did well to clear off the line for The Saddlers with seven minutes to go.

There was end-to-end action as Bradshaw dragged one wide before former Saddlers' loanee, Marc Laird, went close at the other end.

The last action saw Adam Chambers go close before twin brother, James, was replaced by Ashley Grimes.

The full-time whistle signalled a 2-2 and a penalty shoot-out.

There was drama aplenty in the shoot-out as The Saddlers fell 4-2 behind only to turn things around and claim a famous 5-4 win as Paul Downing bagged the crucial spot-kick.


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