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21:45 1st December 2015
By  Daniel Briggs


Walsall began life after Dean Smith with an impressive derby win over ten-man Shrewsbury.

Larnell Cole fired the hosts ahead on 40 minutes, but Milan Lalkovic's fifth goal in eight matches drew the Saddlers level before half-time.

Shrewsbury were reduced to ten men with 19 minutes remaining when Ian Black was sent off for two bookable offences.

And the visitors took full advantage, with Paul Downing and Jordan Cook's first goals of the season securing victory.

The result moved Walsall up to third in League One, level on points with second-placed Coventry, and two points behind new leaders Burton.

Coaches Jon Whitney, Neil Cutler and John Ward were in temporary charge of the Saddlers following Smith's departure to Brentford.

The caretaker trio named an unchanged starting XI for the visit to near-neighbours Shrewsbury.

The fit-again Sam Mantom was on the bench, in place of Reece Flanagan, after recovering from a high ankle sprain.

After a quiet start to proceedings, the Saddlers came within a lick of paint of opening the scoring on 14 minutes.

Romaine Sawyers received possession 20 yards out, turned away from a defender and curled a right-footed shot against the outside of the post.

James O'Connor Shrewsbury A 460x345

Walsall threatened again shortly after, George Evans firing over after a slick passing exchange involving Tom Bradshaw and Kieron Morris.

Shrewsbury's first attempt came on 18 minutes, Black with a well-struck long-range drive which visiting keeper Neil Etheridge held confidently.

The Saddlers suffered an injury blow around the half-hour mark, with ex-Shrewsbury striker Bradshaw limping off and being replaced by Cook.

Undeterred, Walsall continued to force the initiative, with James O'Connor firing straight at home stopper Jayson Leutwiler from Lalkovic's free-kick.

But it was Shrewsbury who went ahead five minutes before the break, Black slipping in Cole to finish right-footed past Etheridge.

Two minutes later it should have been 2-0, when Sullay Kaikai's deflected cross fell to James Collins but he sliced horribly wide from close range.

And Shrewsbury were made to pay for their profligacy as Walsall equalised just before half-time.

Sawyers teed up Lalkovic, who fired a powerful 18-yard drive past Leutwiler at his near post via a slight deflection.


Roared on by almost 1,500 vocal travelling supporters, the Saddlers made an encouraging start to the second half.

Downing went close with a towering header from Kieron Morris’ far-post corner, while Evans saw a deflected shot loop into the arms of Leutwiler.

Etheridge was called into action on the hour mark, when he made a fine diving stop to keep out Abu Ogogo’s 20-yard volley.

Shrewsbury were reduced to ten men with 19 minutes remaining as Black was shown red for two bookable offences.

And the Saddlers immediately looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

Kieron Morris Shrewsbury A 460x345

Evans tested Leutwiler from distance, and the home stopper then made an unorthodox one-handed stop to keep out Sawyers’ rocket.

And the pressure told ten minutes from time, when the unmarked Downing rose highest to head home Anthony Forde’s left-wing corner.

The visitors had chances to increase their lead.

Jason Demetriou’s deflected strike rattled the bar, and Cook’s glancing near-post header flashed narrowly wide.

In the third minute of added time, Walsall finally made the points safe.

O'Connor stopped a Shrewsbury attack with a well-timed tackle on the edge of his own box, with Rico Henry seizing the loose ball.

The left-back drove forward and exchanged passes with Sawyers before calmly squaring for Cook to fire high into the roof of the net.

Jordan Cook Shrewsbury A 460x345


Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, O’Connor, Downing, Henry, Chambers, Evans, Lalkovic (Forde 77'), Morris (Baxendale 90'), Sawyers, Bradshaw (Cook 27').

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Taylor, Mantom, Preston.

Attendance: 6,078 (1,472 Walsall supporters).


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