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16:45 31st October 2015
By  Daniel Briggs


Jason Demetriou's stoppage-time winner sent Walsall top of League One after a thrilling comeback victory over former leaders Gillingham.

Cody McDonald's cool finish and Bradley Dack's penalty gave the Gills a commanding two-goal advantage.

But the hosts staged a stirring fightback, with quick-fire strikes from Kieron Morris and Milan Lalkovic making it 2-2 before half-time.

And Demetriou sealed a dramatic win when he volleyed home his first Saddlers goal in the 91st minute.

The result saw Walsall replace Gillingham at the summit.

Dean Smith made three changes to the side that drew 4-4 at Colchester last weekend.

Neil Etheridge, Rico Henry and Kieron Morris came in, with Craig MacGillivray, Andy Taylor and Anthony Forde dropping to the bench.

Both teams had set-piece opportunities in the early exchanges. Lalkovic struck a 25-yard free-kick into the wall, and Dack, from a similar distance, curled his effort well over.

Justin Edinburgh’s table-topping Gillingham, who were searching for their first win at the Banks’s since February 1992, went ahead on 12 minutes.

Doug Loft's perfectly-weighted pass set McDonald clear and the experienced striker finished left-footed across Walsall keeper Neil Etheridge.

After George Evans fired over from the edge of the area, the Saddlers fell 2-0 down just past the half-hour mark.

Dack dispossessed the dawdling Paul Downing, who then hauled him down.

Referee Darren Drysdale pointed to the spot, and Dack stepped up to confidently send Etheridge the wrong way.

But Walsall, facing the prospect of back-to-back home defeats, refused to let their heads drop and halved the deficit on 37 minutes.

Morris received possession out wide, drove infield and arrowed a superb left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

And barely a minute later it was 2-2, Lalkovic nipping in ahead of full-back Ryan Jackson to poke home Evans' cross from close range.

It was the Slovakian's fourth goal of the season, and his third in as many matches.

The visitors were rattled.

Adam Chambers’ driven cross was cleared with Tom Bradshaw lurking menacingly and Evans then saw a deflected shot loop over the bar.


The second-half continued at an electric pace.

Bradshaw latched onto Lalkovic’s reverse pass but Harry Lennon, on loan from Charlton, slid in to block the striker’s subsequent shot.

Gillingham were a counter-attacking threat and on 53 minutes, Etheridge made a fine full-stretch stop to push away Jermaine McGlashan’s left-footed curler.

Etheridge’s opposite number, Nelson, was twice called into action around the hour mark.

He first made a comfortable save from Morris’ 20-yard attempt, before tipping away Downing’s long-range drive to his right.

Both teams had half chances to go in front.

Morris’ shot deflected onto the roof of the net and Demetriou’s centre was glanced wide by Lalkovic, while Gillingham’s McDonald fired off target from inside the box.

The match appeared destined for a draw but, in the first minute of added time, Walsall grabbed a dramatic winner.

From Rico Henry's deflected cross, a hooked attempt from Jordan Cook dropped invitingly for Demetriou, who smashed home a venomous volley at the far post.

Walsall could have increased the margin of victory.

Morris first dragged a shot wide and Nelson then stretched out a strong right hand to deny substitute Reece Flanagan.


Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers, Bradshaw, Henry (Taylor 90’), Lalkovic (Cook 77’), Morris, Evans (Flanagan 87’).

Subs not used: Baxendale, Forde, MacGillivray, Preston.

Attendance: 6,663 (689 Gillingham supporters).


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