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31 March 2017

A vital victory in the race for the title...

Saturday 31st March 2007 - Walsall 3-2 Accrington Stanley 

Today's feature is from a vitally-important match in the Saddlers' race for the 2006/07 League Two title. Having been relegated the previous campaign, Walsall were keen to make an immediate return to a higher level. 

Our opponents 10 years ago were Lancashire based Accrington Stanley, who needed points to maintain their Football League status and avoid the dreaded drop zone. 

In goal for the Saddlers was fans’ favourite Clayton Ince, while at the back were former Brentford man Michael Dobson, experienced ex-Wolves and Hartlepool centre-back Chris Westwood, Everton academy graduate and current Oldham centre-half Anthony Gerrard, and pacey left wing-back Danny Fox.

Also in the side were diminutive attacking midfielder Dean Keates, well-travelled ex-Wimbledon central midfielder Kevin Cooper, ex-Portsmouth and Stoke winger Kevin Harper, former combative Coventry man Craig Pead, ex-Leicester City striker Trevor Benjamin and hardworking veteran forward Martin Butler.

Walsall made an instant impact after 21 minutes with a rare goal from winger Kevin Harper, who had recently returned to the Bescot Stadium for his second loan spell in eight years. 

However, just four minutes later, the visitors equalised with a fine low finish by striker Paul Mullin, who is still plying his trade in League Two, with fellow Lancashire side Morecambe. 

Accrington were the stronger side after the break and on 65 minutes, full-back Robbie Williams put the visitors ahead with a close-range finish. 

The Saddlers were struggling to break Accrington down and it appeared the visitors would leave the Bescot Stadium with a vital three points. 

But Walsall kept pushing for an equaliser and were rewarded on 75 minutes when Martin Butler was brought down in the Stanley penalty area. Stepping up to take the penalty was Dean Keates, who calmly placed the ball into the net to bring the Saddlers level and maintain his own fantastic run of form. 

The Saddlers battled through the windy conditions and notched a third goal with five minutes remaining. Walsall forward Butler continued to apply pressure on the Stanley defence, and grabbed the crucial strike late on with an angled shot - earning the Saddlers a valuable three points. 

Walsall went on to win the league by one point, with a crucial last-minute goal from Dean Keates at Swindon securing the League Two crown on a dramatic final day - capping a truly memorable season! Manager Richard Money guided us to our first league title in 47 years, following in the footsteps of the legendary boss Bill Moore. 

Accrington would finish their campaign in 20th place on 50 points. 

Other notable fixtures on this day:
2001 - Walsall 0-0 Millwall
1998 - Walsall 1-0 Gillingham - Wayne Evans
1992 - Walsall 1-1 Maidstone United - Charlie Ntamark

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