PRESTON NORTH END v WALSALLTHE SADDLERS were back at Deepdale, this time on League business as our busy schedule of matches continued.
The first action saw a header from Joe Garner straight at Richard O’Donnell.
It was the home side who were asking all the early questions and O’Donnell saved well from a half-volley by Paul Gallagher at the far post before denying Garner on a couple of further occasions.
PNE took the lead on 19 minutes when Rico Henry appeared to be fouled in the build-up before the ball was crossed in by Chris Humphrey to Daniel Johnson who swept home.
Henry was forced out of the action to be replaced by Andy Taylor shortly afterwards.
Chances for The Saddlers were limited in the opening half-an-hour, although Michael Cain tried his luck from distance but dragged his effort wide.
As the half went on, Preston continued to look the most likely side but genuine opportunities were few and far between at either end.
The Saddlers went in at the break trailing by one goal to nil.
It was the home side who came out of the blocks with purpose as a strike from Gallagher within the opening minutes rattled the woodwork.
Then James Chambers defended bravely as Preston went close from a corner through Clarke. Both players required treatment with Chambers okay to continue as Clarke was led from the field and replaced.
A change on the hour saw Sawyers replace Ashley Grimes and he brought a spark to The Saddlers.
Some good play out wide by Forde ends with him getting in a teasing cross which Jordy Hiwula got his head to but couldn’t dircvt goalwards.
It was to be Forde’s last involvement in the action as he was replaced by Baxendale.
As we searched for a leveller, some neat football ended with Cook’s effort blocked before Cain fired well wide. Then in the next raid, Sawyers threaded Hiwula through only for the offside flag to halt him in his tracks.
The Saddlers were keeping possession well in the closing stages as Ben Purkiss’ cross forced a corner which had to be scrambled away from in front of goal by former Walsall loanee, Sam Johnstone.
In the end it wasn’t to be as we went down to a 1-0 defeat.