A memorable 2015...It’s been quite a year for the Saddlers.
From playing at Wembley for the very first time to now being top of League One, 2015 will certainly live long in the memory.
Here is part one of our 2015 review...
The opening month of 2015 set the tone for a truly memorable year, as we overcame Preston to reach the JPT final. Late goals from Anthony Forde and Tom Bradshaw earned Dean Smith's side a 2-0 win in the Northern Area final first leg at Deepdale. The second leg - in front of a sell-out Banks's crowd - finished goalless to seal an aggregate success and our first-ever trip to Wembley. In the league, the year began with a 2-0 derby defeat against Coventry and a disappointing 4-1 home reverse by Scunthorpe. We then secured our first league victory of 2015 with a comfortable 2-0 triumph at Colchester.
League form remained indifferent in February. After drawing 1-1 with Gillingham, the Saddlers recorded successive victories over Doncaster (2-0) and Rochdale (3-2). But Walsall ended the month winless in four, after drawing with Bradford (1-1) and losing to Port Vale (0-1), Preston (0-1) and Leyton Orient (0-2).
The 22nd March 2015 will forever be remembered as the day when Walsall played at Wembley Stadium for the first time in the Club’s 127-year history. Unfortunately, we lost 2-0 to Bristol City in the JPT final but nevertheless, it was a special occasion for all connected with the Club – especially the 29,128 Saddlers supporters who travelled to the capital. In the league, Walsall won 1-0 at Yeovil, drew 1-1 against both MK Dons and Sheffield United, and suffered defeats at Barnsley (0-3) and Chesterfield (0-1).
The Saddlers eased any lingering relegation fears by going seven games unbeaten in April. Goalless draws against Notts County and Peterborough were followed by back-to-back victories against Fleetwood (1-0) and Crawley (5-0). We then drew 1-1 at Crewe and played out a six-goal thriller at Swindon (3-3), before beating Oldham 2-0 in our final home fixture of the season.
Walsall crashed to an 8-2 final-day defeat at Bristol City to end the 2014/15 campaign in 14th place. Striker Tom Bradshaw finished as our top scorer with 20 goals in all competitions. Goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell was named Walsall’s Player of the Season, as well as the Players’ Player of the Season. Left-back Rico Henry scooped the Young Player of the Season prize, while striker Jordan Cook won Goal of the Season for his thunderbolt against Barnsley.
Part two will be on saddlers.co.uk tomorrow afternoon!