Matthew Aplin's match report...A rival match between teams in league 1 and Sean O'Driscoll's first match in charge for the Saddlers and with the home advantage.
With this Walsall needed the win to keep up the pace with the contenders. But made life difficult for themselves in the process.
Walsall could have been a goal down in the 2nd minute to a Port Vale free kick that was disallowed for offside. And they kept the pressure up in the first half with a very open game with chances coming at both ends.
This includes Romaine Sawyers with three shots coming from outside the box in the first half. The first one in the 20 minute going too high. And the other two in the 24 and 34 minute going wide.
But not only was the attack doing its job well even though not having the top goal scorer Tom Bradshaw playing.
The defence was good as well but more important Walsall goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. He made countless saves to keep the home side in the game but made some mistakes, despite his errors he helped to keep a clean sheet to the end of the game. As Port Vale was given a gift by the goal keeper in the 28 minute and that wasn’t the only time.
This included a late back pass to Etheridge from Sawyers, when in the 47th minute he laid the ball back to the goal keeper with a Port Vale striker chasing the ball and forcing Etheridge to clear the ball at the last minute.
But then Etheridge made a tremendous save to his right in the 49 minute to keep Walsall in the game. At this time Port vale looked the more dangerous side and looked like they would score first, but then Sean O'Driscoll made the change that helped Walsall win the all important three points.
This change was Kieron Morris coming off for Jordan Cook and that’s not to say Morris had a bad game but when Cook came on he was determined to make a difference in this match and to show to the new manager what he can do.
He first showed a cheeky turn on the right wing to out turn two of his opponents in the 62 minute. But a minute later Walsall got their first goal of the match from Jordan Cook, with a shot coming from Jason Demetriou and their goalkeeper Jak Alnwick saving it, but then the rebound coming straight to Cook for a simple finish to make it 1-0 to the Saddlers.
After this goal Walsall looked much more comfortable on the ball and Port Vale became less of a threat. Another big chance for Walsall came shortly from George Evans when he took a shot from outside the box at around 35 yards and nearly smashed the ball into the back of the net.
In another good attack from Walsall which involved Andy Taylor putting the ball in to the box, only for George Evans to lose it and Cook who happened to be in the box hit the ball fist time to beat the Vale players around him and a fine finish saw the ball in the bottom right corner of the Vale keeper's goal in the 83 minute.
The man of the match was Jordan Cook as when he came on he changed the game for Walsall and took his chances brilliantly and only having 30 minutes to make an impact and he did it with grace. With this the Walsall dream is going on and with a top 6 position on the cards who wouldn’t want to be a Walsall fan?