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WALSALL v STEVENAGE LIVE BLOG

1 January 2013

The latest New Year's Day action direct from Banks's Stadium...

2013 kicked off with a home game against a Stevenage side who have done well on the road so far this season.

There was an early blow for The Saddlers when Florent Cuvelier pulled up sharp chasing a through-ball in the eighth minute and had to be stretchered from the field. He was replaced by James Baxendale.

Moments later an inviting ball in from the left by Jamie Paterson was met with a looping header from Will Grigg at the far post which Steve Arnold was able to gather.

It was Walsall who were seeing more of the early ball with Karl Darlow, re-signed on loan on the morning of the game from Nottingham Forest, having little to do in the opening exchanges.

The visitors started to get into their stride as James Dunne's cross found Darius Charles who was up from the back to side-foot wide and then Walsall had to defend in numbers to block another raid soon afterwards.

A positive run and strike by Filipe Morais was beaten away by Darlow in the 21st minute.

A poor clearance from Steve Arnold was picked up by Craig Westcarr who was felled from behind to win a free-kick that Sam Mantom curled in but the visitors were able to clear without too many problems.

There was a booking for Adam Chambers for a foul from behind on 34 minutes and the resulting free-kick from Morais hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out to safety with Darlow beaten.

The Saddlers were dealt another injury blow when Andy Taylor was forced to hobble from the field to be replaced by Mal Benning with 37 minutes on the clock.

A block by Paul Downing denied the lively Morais on the edge of the area.

HALF-TIME: Walsall 0 Stevenage 0

The second period started with a neat move on the right as Ben Purkiss fed Craig Westcarr whose teasing ball across goal evaded everyone.

Then some clever link-up play between Purkiss and Baxendale saw the latter break and cross for Grigg whose initial effort was blocked before he hit the rebound inches over.

It was a good spell of pressure from Walsall early in the second half and a cross from Purkiss saw Grigg just over with his attempt once more.

Mal Benning saw yellow for a foul after a Saddlers' free-kick broke down.

A flick-on by Grigg found Westcarr whose low shot on the turn lacked the power to beat Arnold in The Boro goal.

A pacy burst down the left by Lucas Akins saw him enter the penalty area before firing narrowly wide with 20 minutes to go.

With ten minutes to go, George Bowerman was unleashed to replace Grigg as the game searched for a spark from somewhere.

There was a sigh of relief on 83 minutes when Greg Tansey's low pile-driver from distance took a couple of wicked deflections before landing inches wide of the target.

The stalemate was broken as The Saddlers took the lead when Jamie Paterson picked up the ball on the edge of the area after the referee allowed play to continue as Westcarr was tripped and he lashed the ball home with power to make it 1-0.

As the visitors looked for an equaliser in stoppage time, Darlow commanded his area well to relieve the pressure and help us secure three precious points. Happy New Year!

FULL-TIME: Walsall 1 Stevenage 0

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