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31 July 2013

All the latest from a packed Banks's Stadium...

THE SADDLERS stepped out in front of a large and vocal crowd for our 125th Anniversary Match against the team where it all began, Aston Villa.

An early raid from the visitors saw Walsall forced to defend. It didn't take Villa long to get their noses in front when Fabian Delph found space to beat Richard O'Donnell.

The Saddlers were trying to get the ball down and play. A neat move in the 23rd minute saw Adam Chambers thread through Craig Westcarr but he was just offside.

Villa were playing the ball around sharply and shortly afterwards, O'Donnell had to save well to deny Gabby Agbonlahor.

Just after the half-hour mark, Agbonlahor skipped through before slotting home to make it 2-0. Moments later Christian Benteke curled one onto the top of the crossbar.

A poor clearance from Jed Steer fell to James Baxendale on 39 minutes but he failed to capitalise as the 'keeper redeemed himself.

An effort on the turn from Benteke flashed just over.

HALF-TIME: Walsall 0 Aston Villa 2

A raft of half-time changes as Dean Holden, Sam Mantom, Milan Lalkovic, Ashley Hemmings, Paul Downing, James Chambers, Reece Flanagan, James McQuilkin, Shane Lewis and Troy Hewitt on as only Ben George remained from the opening period.

On 52 minutes it was 3-0 when a cross from the right was gobbled up by Benteke.

The Saddlers showing plenty of endeavour without troubling the visitors and on 66 minutes Villa were able to extend their lead as Grealish broke through and tucked home.

Ben George replaced by Jake Heath on 73 minutes.

The game started to peter out as Walsall's thoughts turned to the  challenge ahead on Saturday with the start of the new season.

Good hands from Shane Lewis to deny Villa with a long-range effort.

A powerful strike did beat Lewis soon afterwards as Gary Gardner let fly to make it 5-0.

There was a good block from Brad Guzan to deny Milan Lalkovic as he weaved his way through following Hewitt's pass.

FULL-TIME: Walsall 0 Aston Villa 5

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