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PLENTY OF POSITIVES FOR THE SADDLERS

28 July 2015

Saddlers lose 2-0 to The Baggies but remain upbeat...

THE SADDLERS were back on home soil for our second home pre-season friendly as we entertained West Bromwich Albion.

There was some neat passing from Dean Smith's side early on as our first sight of goal saw Reece Flanagan fired well wide of the target.

A foul on Tom Bradshaw presented Walsall with a free-kick in a promising position just outside the area. Flanagan stepped up and whilst he was initially denied by the defensive wall, the ball eventually came back to him and his long-range effort dipped just over the crossbar.

There was a decent tempo to the game in the opening exchanges with The Saddlers starting brightly and James Baxendale was next go close as he lifted the ball just over from the edge of the area.

Another sharp break from The Saddlers on 21 minutes sees Romaine Sawyers play a low ball across the edge of the area into the path of Baxendale who side-footed inches wide.

The next attack saw Bradshaw cut inside from the left before firing just wide of the target.

At the other end, James O'Connor defended well to cut out James McClean's cross from the left. Then Victor Anichebe drags a low effort just wide of the post.

With five minutes to go until the break, Walsall won a penalty when Tom Bradshaw wa brought down. He stepped up and his spot-kick hit the post and as the rebound came back to him, he put the ball agonisingly wide.

It ended goalless at half-time but it was a generally positive first half display from The Saddlers.

There were four changes at the interval with Demetriou, Taylor, Chambers and Bradshaw replaced by Kinsella, Preston, Mantom and Lalkovic respectively. It also meant a change of formation for The Saddlers.

The second period started with a neat ball from Morrison finding Gardner whose teasing ball flashed across the face of goal with no-one on hand to get the final touch.

A great effort from Baxendale saw the ball dip goalwards as Boaz Myhill made an equally-impressive save to tip the ball over the crossbar.

At the other end, MacGillivray did well to deny McClean as he pushed his effort around the post.

As Albion upped the pressure, the opening goal arrived on 61 minutes as Saido Berahino found the net from close range.

There were further changes as Sawyers, Baxendale and Henry were replaced by Murphy, Forde and Morris respectively.

The Albion goal led a charmed life when Kieron Morris danced through only for his effort to smash against the underside of the crossbar. As the ball stayed alive, Myhill made two smart saves before Anthony Forde had his effort cleared off the line.

Berahino went close with a curling effort as the clock ticked down.

The visitors were able to double their advantage when a break down the left saw McClean's cross find Ideye who managed to guide the ball home from close range.

A shot from Zac Thompson is on target but is gathered without too many problems by Myhill.

It was to be the last action as The Saddlers slipped to a 2-0 defeat, but there were certainly plenty of positives to come out of the performance in front of a crowd of 5,209.

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