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Match Reports

WORK EXPERIENCE MATCH REPORT: WALSALL 2-1 NORTHAMPTON

6 February 2017

Pav Singh's match report...

Justin Edinburgh's difficult start to life as Northampton manager continued as his forward, Marc Richards, blazed a stoppage time penalty over the bar to allow the Saddlers a well deserved victory. 

The Cobblers took the lead in the first half through a goal from John-Joe O'Toole and Walsall were able to seal the comeback through two second half goals in the space of six minutes from Matt Preston and fans favourite Erhun Oztumer. This third straight home win will reignite Walsall's push for the play off places. 

After a slow start to the game from both sides Walsall almost took the lead after Matt Preston's shot on the turn struck the post, but minutes later O'Toole put the visitors ahead from close range as goalkeeper Neil Etheridge dropped Matt Taylor's free kick, much to the disappointment of the home crowd. Walsall looked dangerous on set pieces but still lacked the cutting edge despite lively runs from man of the match Jason McCarthy. 

The second half turned out to be a much different spectacle to the first half, as both teams spurned chances, but it was Preston who scored his first goal of the season, poaching home from Flo Cuvelier's corner to equalise. Northampton almost retook the lead straight away but Richards headed wide of the post, missing a golden opportunity and spurring on the home side as they played with a much higher tempo and threatened with every chance. 

The reward came when Isaiah Osbourne had a shot blocked from Northampton keeper Adam Smith, and Oztumer, who was kept quiet in the first half, fired in what turned out to be the winner. This was his 11th goal of a successful campaign and showed that he is living up to his nickname of "the Turkish Messi". 

With this, the Banks stadium erupted into life and the home crowd started celebrations as they sensed another three home points were in the bag. Oztumer had a chance to put the game to bed, but curled a free kick just wide of the post, and on the other side of the pitch, Etheridge was forced into a fine save from O'Toole's header minutes earlier. 

There was more drama as Walsall survived a scramble in the box, and they were hanging on for the win as six minutes of injury time was given, leaving a nervy end for Saddlers fans. It was far from over as Richards was tripped in the box by Adam Chambers, with the referee awarding a penalty and a chance to put a smile on the away fans' faces. When Richards stepped up and skied his effort over the bar, the referee blew the full time whistle and extended Walsall's unbeaten run to five games as well as giving them payback for the 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture back in September. 

Victory for Jon Whitney's side continues their fantastic start to the new year, and moves them up one place to 11th and only 4 points off the play off places, whereas Northampton remain 16th. 

With Walsall scoring goals and in a rich vein of form, other teams will be wary of them. Now they face a real test with their next two games being away to Bolton Wanderers and Scunthorpe United, who are 3rd and 2nd respectively. In the post match interview Jon Whitney stated that the expectation would be on the opposition for these games, but with the Saddler's recent results, they will certainly be worth considering. 

Referee: Robert Jones 

Attendance: 4,954 (941 Northampton).

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