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24 March 2017

An emphatic victory on this day in 2001...

Saturday March 24th 2001 - Walsall 5-1 Wycombe Wanderers

The 2000/01 season was one of triumph for the Saddlers, culminating in a Division Two play-off final win against Reading in May. Manager Ray Graydon assembled an experienced and talented team who thrilled the Bescot faithful over the course of an exhilarating season. 

Wycombe Wanderers travelled to the Bescot Stadium in late March and suffered a 5-1 defeat - the third time that season the Saddlers had scored five goals in a game at home, having previously beaten Notts County and Swansea City by the same scoreline. 

Emerging striker and current Hednesford Town manager Gary Birch had been allowed to join Exeter City on loan prior to the game, creating an opportunity for Don Goodman to make his Saddlers debut having joined the club from Scottish side Motherwell. 

The headlines on the day, however, went to skilful Spanish under-21 winger Pedro Matias who claimed a stunning hat-trick. The other Saddlers goals came from hardworking midfielder Paul Hall and top scorer and Portuguese forward Jorge Leitao. 

Also featuring for Walsall in the game were club legend goalkeeper Jimmy Walker, ex-Manchester City and Stoke full-back Ian Brightwell, combative centre-backs Andy Tillson and Tony Barras, with Spanish attacking left-back Zigor Aranalde completing the defence. Alongside Hall and Matias in midfield was the much loved now Wrexham manager Dean Keates and Hungarian international Gabor Bukran. On the bench for the Saddlers was versatile youngster Matt Gadsby, whose career was tragically cut short after he collapsed and died while playing for Hinckley United at Harrogate Town in September 2006. 

Don Goodman went on to score in the play-off final against Reading at the Millennium Stadium. That goal was one of only three in 25 league appearances for Walsall before moving on to Exeter City. This campaign was arguably one of the most memorable seasons in the Saddlers' recent history. 

Other notable fixtures on this day:
2013 - Hartlepool 0-0 Walsall 
2010 - Southend 3-0 Walsall 
2002 - Crystal Palace 2-0 Walsall
1996 - Hull City 1-0 Walsall 
1991 - Carlisle United 0-3 Walsall 
1985 - Walsall 5-0 Cambridge United

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