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22 September 2012

The latest action direct from Banks's Stadium...

THE SUN was shining on The Saddlers once more as we stepped out on home soil for the visit of Preston North End.

An early foul on James Baxendale gave Flo Cuvelier a free-kick out wide which the visitors cleared. It was a lively, high tempo start by Walsall and within minutes an effort from the edge of the area by Nicky Featherstone was tipped over by Steve Simonsen.

Despite the bright start, it was Preston who took a tenth minute lead when a counter-attack on the right ended with Joel Byrom finding the net from close range.

As The Saddlers searched for a way back into it, George Bowerman found Jamie Paterson who pulled the ball across from the by-line and as the visitors only half-cleared, Baxendale's effort appeared to strike a Preston hand as it was deflected away, but the referee allowed play to continue as the visitors scrambled the ball clear.

Some good play down the left ended with Andy Taylor crossing deep and as the ball deflected into the path of Cuvelier, he hooked his effort well wide.

The Saddlers playing some neat football and causing North End problems.

Just past the half-hour a foul on Baxendale gave The Saddlers a free-kick in a promising position which Cuvelier fired in and the ball took a deflection which forced Simonsen into a fine save. As the resulting corner came in, the 'keeper was forced to make another important stop from a low strike.

The goal that Walsall had threatened came when another neat move saw Grigg chase a through-ball before feeding Baxendale whose strike curled into the net for his second goal of the week to make it 1-1.

HALF-TIME: Walsall 1 Preston North End 1

The Saddlers started the second period in much the same vein with some sharp play. 

A foul on George Bowerman gave Walsall our first penalty of the season in the 54th minute and the youngster stepped up to slot home with a cool head and make it 2-1.

It was 3-1 five minutes later when Bowerman tucked the ball home beyond Steve Simonsen with a great strike. 

Walsall were well on top at this stage and a break out wide by Bowerman saw him cross invitingly but North End managed to clear at the vital moment.

A free-kick from Paterson produced another fine save from the 'keeper as the resulting corner caused problems for Preston before Dean Holden fired over.

A sweet, sweet passing move by The Saddlers saw the ball spread from left to right and ended with a strike from Baxendale being pushed out by Simonsen. Each pass was greeted with a cheer by the Walsall faithful who were enjoying this performance.

Dean Smith made his first change as Richard Taundry replaced James Baxendale on 87 minutes. Then the final minute of normal time saw Jake Jones replace Paterson and then Paul Downing replace Grigg.

It was a sparkling display by The Saddlers which fully deserved three points.

FULL-TIME: Walsall 3 Preston North End 1

WALSALL: Darlow, Butler, Holden, Featherstone, Cuvelier, Grigg (Downing), Paterson (J. Jones), Purkiss, Bowerman, Baxendale (Taundry), A. Taylor.


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