Holly Hunt looks back at our last meeting with today's opponents Shrewsbury, on 14th April 2017...
Shrewsbury Town boosted their survival hopes when the Shrews and the Saddlers last met in League One. In a game that lacked goals, chances were aplenty and Walsall were punished for not capitalising on those openings, particularly in the opening exchanges.
It took the visitors around half-an-hour to break the deadlock, with Amadou Bakayoko fluffing his lines in the face of goal but it was Kieron Morris who found himself in the right place at the right time. Joe Edwards’ delivery was met by the head of the midfielder, launching himself at the ball to give the Saddlers a 35th minute lead.
The Shrews were not without chances of their own and the Saddlers had Craig MacGillivray to thank, on what was the ‘keepers’ first league appearance of the 2016/17 campaign. Shaun Walley was first thwarted by the 24-year-old who then did well to deny Stefan Payne what would have been an impressive solo goal, dancing his way into the box, evading three red shirts before lining up an effort. Whether or not it was those two stops that first turned the hosts' heads and prompted the Shrews to make a move for MacGillivray, we’ll never know!
Bakayoko was head in hands once more as Edwards, looking to notch another assist, teed up the striker only for MacGillivray’s counterpart Jayson Leutwiler to race off his line to avert the danger. Morris, looking to notch another goal, could have spared his blushes with what would have surely been the goal of the afternoon, bringing the ball under his spell on the edge of the area but the instinctive volley was even more impressively tipped over by Leutwiler.
The hosts warmed MacGillivray’s palms after the interval and Payne eventually got his reward, the Barnsley loanee nodding in the equaliser from a Whalley delivery with 70 minutes on the clock. Shrewsbury put distance between themselves and the drop zone while Walsall were made to wait for a first away win of the new year.
Walsall XI: Craig MacGillivray, James O’Connor, Matt Preston, Eoghan O’Connell, Jason McCarthy, Isaiah Osbourne, Adam Chambers, Kieron Morris, Joe Edwards, Amadou Bakayoko, Andreas Makris
Subs: Scott Laird, George Dobson, Florent Cuvelier, Simeon Jackson, Mitchell Candlin, Brandon Ganley, Franck Moussa