Good night's work for The Saddlers...
ON A warm summer evening, The Saddlers took on Alfreton Town in our latest pre-season friendly encounter.
New loan signing from Chelsea, Milan Lalkovic, was in the starting line-up alongside three trialists, Richard O'Donnell in goal, James McQuilken and former loanee, Romaine Sawyers.
The Saddlers started with purpose and a break by Kieron Morris ended with him being felled in full flow by Darran Kempson. The resulting free-kick from Lalkovic pushed around the post.
Some more neat play between Romaine Sawyers and Morris saw Walsall force a corner that was cleared for another flag-kick. This time the ball found its way to Lalkovic who showed skill before his inviting cross was headed just wide by Sawyers.
With 18 minutes on the clock, Nicky Featherstone did well to feed Morris who cut inside but his strike lacked power.
A foul on Mal Benning gave The Saddlers a free-kick out wide on the left which was half-cleared and as James McQuilken put the ball back in, Andy Butler headed wide.
Moments later, space opened up for a Sam Mantom strike from distance that flew well over.
The 27th minute was time for both teams to take a much-needed water break.
The Saddlers went in front on the half-hour when McQuilken's cross saw Sawyers force the ball home from close range following some hesitation by Chris Westwood.
Our advantage was doubled on 36 minutes when a neat move ended with Nicky Featherstone threading through Lalkovic who showed a burst of pace before finishing with much aplomb.
The Saddlers playing some neat football with Richard O'Donnell rarely called into action during the opening period.
On the stroke of half-time, a low strike from Paul Downing from a corner, well saved by the home 'keeper.
HALF-TIME: Alfreton Town 0 Walsall 2
There were five changes for the start of the second period as Holden replaced Butler, Taylor on for Benning, Baxendale replaced Mantom, Westcarr came on for Sawyers and Hewitt for Lalkovic.
An early chance for the home side saw O'Donnell block from John McGrath.
Featherstone fed Westcarr who pulled the ball back into the path of Hewitt but the new-boy was denied by the 'keeper who was alert to block. The next attack saw Westcarr play in Hewitt only for the 'keeper to see the danger.
A pacy run from Baxendale ended with his ball across the face of goal cleared ahead of Westcarr.
There was a let-off for The Saddlers when some sloppy defensive play allowed Stuart Fleetwood to take ball across O'Donnell but Paul Clayton failed to turn the ball home as Ben Purkiss was able to make his presence felt.
On 65 minutes Purkiss, Downing, Featherstone and Morris were replaced by George, J. Chambers, Flanagan and Hemmings.
There were chances at either end as Hewitt was denied by the home 'keeper before O'Donnell saved well from Ramsey-Dickson.
A drive from Westcarr was gathered by the 'keeper as The Saddlers looked to extend our lead.
The third goal duly arrived when McQuilken found Baxendale on the right and his cross picked out Hemmings who arrowed the ball home to give the 'keeper no chance.
Shortly afterwards it was 4-0 when Baxendale worked hard out wide to carve out a chance for Westcarr who made no mistake.
The fifth goal arrived when a sharp move saw Flanagan set Westcarr through with a defence-splitting ball and he made no mistake for his second of the evening.
There was time for a late goal from new signing, Troy Hewitt right on the whilst to make it 6-0 to Walsall.
FULL-TIME: Alfreton Town 0 Walsall 6