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Club News

MARCH 2014

1 April 2014

Busy month for The Saddlers...

MARCH was certainly a busy month for The Saddlers with no fewer than eight games taking place.

It all started at Deepdale as we locked horns with a high-flying Preston North End outfit.

We made the worst possible start when Paul Downing turned the ball into his own net within the opening couple of minutes, but we refused to let our heads drop and were back on level terms in the fifth minute when Sam Mantom fired home.

As we started to get a hold of the game, our hosts regained the lead on the half-hour mark.

Again we kept plugging away in search of an equaliser, however, our cause was not helped by a rather harsh straight red card for Mantom following a challenge on the half-way line. We later appealed the sending off but were unsuccessful.

Even with ten men we came close to grabbing a point near the end, but it wasn't to be.

Next up was another road trip, this time to Sixfields Stadium for our rearranged clash with Coventry City.

Callum Wilson opened the scoring for The Sky Blues before a first career goal for Mal Benning saw us level matters early in the second period and at that point we looked the most likely side to go on and win it.

However, the home side, despite playing in front of crowds below 2,000, were able to introduce Aston Villa loanee, Nathan Delfouneso off the substitutes' bench and he won it near the end to condemn us to our second successive 2-1 reverse.

We were back on home soil for the eagerly-awaited local derby with Wolves as a crowd of over 10,000 created a fantastic atmosphere within the stadium.

Sadly it was not to be our day as we failed to do the double over our near-neighbours and ended up on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline.

It was a prompt return to home soil three days later for the visit of a Crewe Alexandra side who needed the points to lift themselves away from the lower reaches of the table.

In truth, The Saddlers failed to get into our stride and we went a goal down early in the second half. Try as we might the equaliser would just not come, that was until Mark Ellis put through his own net in stoppage time to give us a share of the spoils that, on reflection, we deserved.

A first-ever trip to the New York Stadium, home of Rotherham United, came next.

The Saddlers put in an improved performance as we played some of the neat football that was the hallmark of earlier in the season.

We deservedly went in front on 19 minutes through Milan Lalkovic and looked good for a return to winning ways as we created some decent chances and defended resolutely when we had to.

This time, though, it was our turn to concede a late equaliser as Nicky Adams' strike took a deflection and went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Earlier in the second half, Ben Purkiss had been sent off for two yellow cards.

A home encounter with high-flying Leyton Orient followed as our gruelling schedule of fixtures continued.

Paul Downing returned to the starting line-up and set us on our way with the opening goal on the quarter-hour mark as we once more played some good football but were unable to add to our lead.

It meant that the visitors were able to equalise with just over ten minutes to go as we made it three 1-1 draws in a row.

A trip to Bradford City was next on the agenda as we finally made a return to winning ways with a convincing display which saw us on top throughout.

Two goals from Craig Westcarr gave us a solid 2-0 win on a good night for The Saddlers.

The month ended with Shrewsbury Town providing the opposition at Banks's Stadium.

With both teams desperate for the points for different reasons, it proved to be an entertaining encounter which was won courtesy of a Craig Westcarr goal.

Westcarr was to go from hero to villain when he was red-carded in the second half for his reaction to something that was said to him as he received treatment for a robust challenge. The Shrews had also been reduced to ten men earlier in the game.

It proved to be a winning end to the month as we extended our unbeaten run to five games.

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