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21:52 19th May 2016


Walsall will play League One football again next season after their promotion hopes were ended by Barnsley. 

Goals from Adam Hammill, Ash Fletcher and Josh Brownhill earned the Tykes a 6-1 aggregate win, with Jordan Cook netting the Saddlers’ late consolation. 

Jon Whitney made three changes to the Walsall team that were convincingly beaten 3-0 in the first leg. 

Andy Taylor, Sam Mantom and Jordy Hiwula came into a 3-5-2 formation, with Kieron Morris, Anthony Forde and Milan Lalkovic missing out. 

Despite Walsall’s need for victory – and goals – it was the visitors who started the brighter. 

Their first shot came on five minutes from Adam Hammill, who curled a 20-yard strike straight at Saddlers keeper Neil Etheridge. 

Three minutes later the Tykes wasted a glorious chance, as the unmarked Alfie Mawson headed Conor Hourihane’s corner wide from close range. 

The home side then registered their first attempt, Taylor with a left-footed free-kick from the edge of the box which curled narrowly over. 

Walsall already had a mountain to climb and their task was made even more difficult on 18 minutes as Barnsley took the lead. 

A Hourihane cross wasn’t dealt with by the home defence and dropped for Hammill to finish right-footed past Etheridge.

 Four goals down on aggregate and needing a footballing miracle, the Saddlers then wasted a fine chance to reduce the deficit midway through the half. 

An Alfie Mawson error was pounced on by Hiwula, with the ball finding Tom Bradshaw but, one-on-one, he completely miscued his shot. 

The ball deflected off a defender and fell to Rico Henry, who crossed back in for Hiwula to turn a flicked effort wide. 

But just before the half-hour mark, the visitors should have increased their aggregate advantage further. 

Hourihane’s deep free-kick was met at the far-post by Ash Fletcher, but his downward header was kept out by Etheridge from point-blank range. 

Walsall almost pulled one back moments later, but Davies made a superb one-handed save to claw away Bradshaw’s header from Romaine Sawyers’ outside-of-the-boot cross. 

The visitors remained a real threat, particularly through Fletcher, who had two fine opportunities to put the tie to bed. 

First, he directed a free, eight-yard header straight at Etheridge from Lloyd Isgrove’s right-wing cross when he should have scored. 

And then, the Manchester United loanee twisted and turned inside the box before seeing a low drive saved by Etheridge to his right. 

Walsall responded with Mantom feeding Sawyers, whose firm strike was held by Davies at his near post. 


Barnsley remained the superior team after the interval, with the highly-rated Fletcher in the thick of the action. 

The striker saw a goalbound drive bravely blocked by O’Connor before then hooking a first-time effort over the bar. 

Fletcher was involved again on 55 minutes, as he chased a long ball in behind the Walsall defence. 

He tried to square to Sam Winnall for a simple tap-in but the stretching Paul Downing stuck out a leg to divert the ball just wide. 

Walsall’s promotion dreams were fading fast but captain Adam Chambers to inspire an improbable comeback with a right-footed effort which Davies tipped wide. 

But their comeback hopes were ended once and for all on 66 minutes, when Fletcher controlled Hammill’s cross before firing home. 

The Saddlers were a beaten team, although substitute Jordan Cook did pull one back with five minutes remaining when he curled a delightful right-footed shot into the top corner. 

But Barnsley had the final say on the cusp of full-time, when Josh Brownhill tapped home after a calamitous defensive mix-up. 


Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, Taylor (Cook 63’), O’Connor, Downing, Chambers, Mantom, Bradshaw (Forde 83’), Sawyers, Henry, Hiwula (Lalkovic 72’). 

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Preston, Morris, Kinsella. 

Attendance: 8,022 (1,496 Barnsley supporters).


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