WALSALL v BRISTOL CITY
THE SADDLERS stepped out on a sunny Spring afternoon for our clash with Bristol City as both sets of supporters were in good voice.
The match kicked off at 3.07pm as a mark of respect to those victims of the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago. There was a perfectly-observed minute's silence before the kick-off as those 96 who died were remembered.
Walsall started brightly with some neat passages of play. The first effort saw Sam Mantom well over with five minutes on the clock.
After Michael Ngoo had headed a teasing James Chambers cross onto the roof of the goal, a free-kick in a good position was curled into the defensive wall by Andy Taylor.
The Saddlers started well but as the half went on it became a pretty evenly-matched affair.
Just before the half-hour, some neat inter-play between Michael Ngoo and Romaine Sawyers ended with the latter curling just wide from distance.
A positive run from Romaine Sawyers ends with him winning another free-kick in a promising position. This time Sam Mantom steps up and as his effort deflects off the wall, Simon Moore does well to push the ball out.
A foul on the touchline on Michael Ngoo sparked a melee as Ngoo was booked for his reaction to being felled. The resulting free-kick was half-cleared as Mantom fired the loose ball well over.
There was a bit of an edge creeping into the game as a foul on Brandy saw the free-kick delivered into the area but claimed by the 'keeper.
The visitors won a penalty right at the end of the first half following a trip by Andy Taylor. Leading scorer Sam Baldock stepped up and made no mistake to open the scoring.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 0 Bristol City 1
The early action of the half saw Febian Brandy denied by the 'keeper who gathered at the second attempt.
There was a penalty for Walsall when a ball in from Mantom saw Ngoo brought down as he went for the header. It was Mantom who stepped up only for his effort to be saved in the 58th minute.
A neat ball from Wade Elliott cut open The Saddlers' back-line as Greg Cunningham went through only for Richard O'Donnell to block well.
A foul on Andy Taylor gave Walsall a free-kick on the edge of the area which Brandy fired over, before Amadou Bakayoko was unleashed for his home League debut in the 67th minute as he replaced Ngoo.
There was another Walsall change on 73 minutes when James McQuilkin replaced James Baxendale.
With just over ten minutes to go, McQuilkin saw a long-range effort just creep the wrong side of the post.
Another cut inside and strike from McQuilkin saw his effort on target but fail to trouble the 'keeper. At the other end, Tyrone Barnett's deflected effort saved by O'Donnell.
A cut was to force Adam Chambers out of the action with five minutes to go as Nicky Featherstone replaced him.
Some neat football by The Saddlers ended with Featherstone's stinging strike acrobatically saved by Moore.
A powerful drive from Bakayoko inside the area blocked as Walsall searched for an equaliser.
Despite some pressure in the closing stages, The Saddlers couldn't find a way through as the game ended in a 1-0 defeat.
FULL-TIME: Walsall 0 Bristol City 1