Tom Marshall's match report on Walsall 1-3 Barnsley...A game of fine margins lies here for us in the Black Country as an in form Barnsley side pay a visit to the Banks's stadium in search of more points to add to there 11 wins from 13 games and increase their all important push to grab a top 6 spot.
Walsall have taken a small set back of late and haven't won in 5 games, which has seen Sean O'Driscoll's men slip out of the automatic promotion spots. They will be hoping to return to winning ways today and with a familiar face of Jordy Hiwula back on the Saddlers bench this afternoon this can only encourage the Saddlers to take the full prize at stake.
A good spell of play opened up for Walsall early on as the saddlers ever consistent number 10 flicked the header to Bradshaw who then picked out Kieron Morris in the centre who slipped a sublime through ball into Sawyers who dragged a shot across the face of goal.
A minute later Anthony Forde proved his quality as he turned inside and out but didn't manage to get the shot away, an interesting start to a lively game after 5 minutes.
Demetriou at right back slipped up slightly by deflecting the ball across his own box into the path of Tykes midfielder Hourihane who managed to belt it over the bar.
A minute later walsall charged up the field and were hacked down and Anthony Forde stepped up with visions of Preston away last season and struck it beautifully towards the the left top corner to only see the effort cannon off the post and the ball to cleared 15 minutes played and the top half battle has seriously commenced.
18 minutes in and it's the Yorkshire boys who strike 1st and continue with this awesome turn of form they have had in recent weeks a piece of individual brilliance from Ashley Fletcher the ex-Manchester United man proved his Premier League quality by tearing Walsall's right side apart as he struck a low driven shot across the keeper into the bottom corner and converted his 4th goal this season and secured a Midlands double as he grabbed one against Coventry in midweek.
Game on here at Bescot and it's Walsall with the mountain to climb but 28 minutes played and Mantom whips in a pearl of a cross which Bradshaw crept around the last defender and put his header towards goal but the keeper turned it over the bar gaining the home side a corner.
The ball was put into a dangerous area and knocked on the edge of the box which saw Kieron Morris smash one against a Barnsley defender but Taylor then stabbed a foot at the ball which saw Barnsley's Adam Davies pull off a smart save only for Welsh wonder man Tom Bradhsaw to be lurking at the back post to prod home the equaliser.
All square here at the Banks's and Tom Bradshaw tries to get back to his best with his first goal from open play since a trip to Bury on 15th of January.
35th minute saw the ref get replaced by the 4th official in one of the strangest events to have happened today however the game remained quiet since the two early goals but the 42nd minute saw Walsall pass the ball around with ease as Barnsley seemed to have stepped off the gas and Kieron Morris recieved the ball with his favoured left foot on the edge on the box and chose to pass it sideways to left back Andy Taylor to strike which he did but Adam Smith handled it well and clawed it to safety and the score remained tied at 1-1.
Half time 1-1
A Barnsley corner was curled into the box superbly and bounced and Fletcher who'd already scored today had the ball at his feet and produced one of the misses of the season from about 5 yards he managed to poke it past the post leaving manager Heckingbottom stunned.
A minute later Fletcher again for Barnsley wormed his way into the box and fell over during the process the ball was passed out into space which saw Josh Brownhill blast a 30yard screamer catching Etheridge off guard and leaving a healthy number of traveling Barnsley fans ecstatic.
Barnsley back in the driving seat and O'Driscoll's men back under pressure its 2-1 to the boys from Oakwell.
Again a poor spell of Walsall defending costing them points at the moment and 3 minutes later Sawyers failed to find room to shoot and the ball was booted by Brownhill into the path of Harry Chapman who ran half the pitch in seconds and punished an abysmal performance from the Saddlers defence by sliding it under Etheridge.
It's 3-1 Barnsley and it's the Johnstone's Paint Trophy fianlists that look to be taking all 3 points from this one unless Walsall can come up with a solution in the next half an hour.
Attendance 5199 travelling fans 901. Kieron Morris and Sawyers make way for Hiwula and Lalkovic.
Barnsley on the 65th minute mark were passing the ball around for a good 5 minutes with "Ole's" coming from the travelling crowd and cries of "it's just like watching Brazil" however Walsall still in search of a way back into this game.
The ball was drilled across the box by Milan Lalkovic and with a number of players queueing up to put it in the net Morris stepped in and hit it straight at the keeper and the ball was later cleared.
13 minutes remain here in Walsall Jordan Cook was introduced for Tom Bradshaw on 77mins only to be stretchered off with a foot injury two minutes later, which shows it can't be Walsall's day as they've already made their 3 substitutions.
Barnsley then made a substitution by taking off goal scorer Chapman who got a good reception from Barnsley fans however the man of the match was then awarded to Romaine Sawyers.