Capital One Cup defeat for The Saddlers...
THE SADDLERS hosted Premier League opposition for the first time in eight years as we locked horns with managerless Crystal Palace in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
There was a lively start to the proceedings by Walsall. A foul on Tom Bradshaw gave us an early free-kick in a promising position which Billy Clifford put on target, however, his effort lacked any power.
The first raid from the visitors on seven minutes sees Dwight Gayle beat the offside trap before firing home from the angle to make it 1-0.
Shortly afterwards, Jerome Thomas put an inviting ball across the area which just evaded Gayle.
Some good work on the left by Andy Taylor saw his cross half-cleared as far as Clifford who tried his luck but the 'keeper was able to gather.
Saddlers' refusing to let their heads drop after Palace's early goal and as Anthony Forde cut inside, his effort was blocked.
The visitors' second goal came after a Walsall move broke down and as Palace counter-attacked, Adam Chambers conceded a free-kick which Gayle hit low through the wall to make it 2-0.
Palace made it 3-0 with five minutes to go until the break as Gayle twisted and turned before firing home to complete his hat-trick.
The opening action of the second period saw Grimes' strike hit the inside of the post before cannoning off the back of the 'keeper and away from danger.
There was a double change for The Saddlers just past the hour when Sawyers and Clifford were replaced by James Baxendale and Reece Flanagan respectively. Having made his senior debut in the last game, Flanagan will be keen to impress in his first outing on home soil.
Some good battling from the flame-haired Flanagan saw him tee up Grimes whose strike on the edge of the area was blocked by Hangeland.
Flanagan then showed great skill to cause the visitors problems as Taylor low drive flashed just wide of the target.
As Tom Bradshaw escaped his marker, his rasping drive was beaten away by Hennessey in the Palace goal.
With 15 minutes to go, Mal Benning replaced Forde for our third and final change.
After Baxendale's effort was deflected wide, The Saddlers went close from the resulting flag-kick with eight minutes to go.
A free-kick late on is dipped just over by Andy Taylor.
The full-time whistle signalled a 3-0 defeat for The Saddlers as Gayle's first half treble proved to be the difference.