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Club News

DECEMBER 2014

31 December 2014

Dramatic end to the year...

THE MONTH started in dramatic fashion as we travelled to Tranmere Rovers in the Northern Area semi-final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Our League Two hosts found themselves two goals to the good going into the interval but a second half fight-back saw Anthony Forde and then a first-ever goal for Michael Cain late on level matters at 2-2 and take the game straight to penalties.

The shoot-out was just as dramatic as Rovers came close to winning it only for some heroics from Richard O'Donnell to take it into sudden death where Paul Downing tucked home the winning spot-kick to take us into the Area Final.

The feel-good factor continued into our next game as we played host to Barnsley.

That said, our Yorkshire visitors did briefly take the lead on the half-hour mark, but we hit back straight away with an absolute stunner from Jordan Cook.

Tom Bradshaw then put us ahead shortly afterwards before Cook added his second late on to seal a deserved victory following an impressive display.

The win saw us make it into the top half of the table going into our pre-Christmas clash at Sheffield United.

In front of a large home crowd of just over 20,000, it was an evenly-matched contest for the most part until The Blades cut through our back-line to take the lead.

Once more, we hit back within minutes as Bradshaw headed home sweetly and that is how the scoreline stayed as we looked resolute in defence and hard-working in the middle of the park.

It set up Boxing Day's visit of high-flying Swindon Town nicely as we came up against a side who found themselves in the top three.

Falling behind to a third-minute goal, we managed to get a foothold in the game as the opening period went on and deservedly levelled through Bradshaw.

We were the better side going into the interval but then the snow started to come down heavily during the break and we were caught cold in a disappointing ten-minute spell at the start of the second half as The Robins adapted better to the wintery conditions and hit three quick goals to make it 4-1.

To be fair, the remainder of the game was facical; visibility was poor through the heavy snow and the pitch was white over with the pitch markings unable to be seen. The fact that our visitors were also wearing white shirts didn't help matters either.

It meant that we went into the final game of the year just 48 hours later looking for an instant response, and boy did we get it.

For the second game in a row we faced a side from within the top three as we travalled to second-placed MK Dons. The Dons were unbeaten in 12 League games and had scored an impressive 13 goals in their last two home games alone!

But The Saddlers stepped out with real purpose - and a game plan that we followed to the letter.

Taking an early lead when Andy Taylor's free-kick was turned into his own net by Darren Potter, it was a magical start for Dean Smith's side and we never looked back, creating chance-after-chance.

It was a surprise that we were only one goal to the good at the break, but the second half saw Tom Bradshaw hit a brace to take his tally up to 14 goals and give us a deserved three points from a comprehensive 3-0 win.

What a way to end 2014...

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