A vital victory in our fight to stay in Division One...
Saturday 16th March 2002 - Walsall 2-1 Barnsley
Going into this game, both Walsall and Barnsley needed valuable points to consolidate their Football League First Division status. Walsall’s visitors Barnsley were on a poor run of form, having failed to win in eight games. The Saddlers broke a seven-game winless run 11 days prior to this fixture with an impressive 1-0 victory against play-off contenders Burnley.
Starting the game between the sticks for the Saddlers was well-travelled club legend Jimmy Walker. In defence was Matt Carbon, long-serving centre-half Ian Roper, Scotsman Greg Shields and Spanish full-back Zigor Aranalde. In the engine room was midfield maestro Darren Wrack, former Wolves and Aston Villa hardworking midfielder Tom Bennett, Australian international Steve Corica and experienced ex-Manchester City man Fitzroy Simpson, while Jamaican international Darren Byfield was up front alongside Brazilian frontman Marcelo.
Walsall went into the game without key man David Holdsworth, who was serving the first game of a four-match suspension, while fellow defender Tony Barras was also out of the squad with a troublesome hip problem. And after only eight minutes things went from bad to worse for home boss Colin Lee when midfielder Fitzroy Simpson was taken off on a stretcher off after sustaining a shoulder injury.
The Saddlers struggled to set the tone of the game and after 22 minutes Barnsley opened the scoring with a drilled shot from the edge of the box by the Tykes’ top scorer Bruce Dyer, who managed to beat in-form ‘keeper Jimmy Walker.
The home side struggled to find a route back into the contest, despite testing Barnsley ‘keeper Marriot on a few occasions. But Walsall picked up their performance at the start of the second half and threatened again on 53 minutes when Tom Bennett fired close with a powerful low drive.
Ten minutes later midfielder Bennett was shown a second yellow card for a crunching challenge on Barnsley goalscorer Dyer.
Despite losing a man, the Saddlers continued to dominate and after 69 minutes they grabbed an equaliser when substitute Frederic Biancalani led a swift counter-attack before slipping the ball through for Darren Byfield to slot home.
On 82 minutes Walsall completed the comeback when full-back Shields bombed down the right flank and crossed towards substitute Don Goodman, who rose to head the ball into the back of the net.
This win was vital in driving Walsall to safety, with Lee's men winning three of the final six games. The Saddlers finished the 2001/02 season in 18th place on 51 points, while opponents Barnsley came 23rd place on 48 points.
Other notable fixtures on this day:
2013 - Walsall 2-2 Crawley Town
Two late goals from forwards Will Grigg and Jamie Paterson saw the Saddlers come from 2-0 behind against league rivals Crawley Town.
2004 - Walsall 1-3 Ipswich Town
A hat-trick from Darren Bent saw the Tractor Boys triumph over the Saddlers despite a late goal from Walsall defensive midfielder Keith Andrews.
1999 - Walsall 1-1 Millwall
An 89th-minute goal from Icelandic centre forward Siggi Eyjolfsson was not enough to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat at the Den as Millwall progressed to the Football League Trophy final. The Lions went on to lose the final 1-0 to Wigan Athletic.
1996 - Walsall 3-0 Chesterfield
The Saddlers overcame Chesterfield thanks to a brace from Martin O’Connor and a finish from Kyle Lightbourne.
1991 - Walsall 0-1 Rochdale
1982 - Walsall 1-2 Reading