In what was a free-scoring Sunday afternoon for both Walsall Ladies and Abbey Hilton United, it was the Saddlers that came out 7-5 winners, thanks to goals from Karys Craddock and Sabrina Egerton.
Walsall did well to withstand some early pressure, and after play resumed following an altercation between the Abbey Hilton manager and the referee, they started to put their stamp on the game.
It was the Saddlers who created the first one-on-one chance, when Vicky Welton found herself through on goal. Despite this, she saw her effort well saved.
Just a minute later, Craddock found herself with a similar opportunity, but kept her cool and made no mistake, putting the home side 1-0 up. It was a goal Walsall deserved after a positive spell of possession.
Craddock nearly had two after she saw her effort spilled on the line, but the opposing keeper got her hands to it just in time. Abbey Hilton then countered, leading to a superb save from Lucy Hargrave.
Abbey Hilton then found themselves level, after an effort from range caught out the Saddlers No.1. The visitors took the lead soon after, with a free-kick hitting the post and squeezing in past Hargrave.
Walsall bounced back quickly and effectively, when Egerton raced through on goal and prodded the ball home to the near post, making it 2-2. It wasn’t long before the Saddlers found themselves with the lead again, after Craddock’s neat finish made it 3-2.
In the second-half, Craddock completed her hat-trick to make it 4-2. The keeper got hands on her effort from close range, but not enough to stop Walsall from furthering their advantage.
Moments later, the No.10 found the net again, this time with a thunderous effort from 15 yards that not many keepers would be able to stop. She went close again soon after, when she left her defender for dead and saw her shot clatter the crossbar.
The Saddlers made it 6-2 with a goal from Egerton after a goal-mouth scramble. The significant lead was fully deserved following what was a superb second-half display.
The visitors did pull a goal back straight after however, putting the Walsall defenders’ resolve to the test with just 15 minutes remaining. The score was 6-4 after a few more moments, making it a nervy last five minutes for the home side.
All panic was soon brought to a halt however, as Egerton bagged her third of the afternoon to put the game to bed. She almost grabbed another at the death, but was prevented by a fine save by the AHU keeper.
The visitors did score again in the final moments to make it 7-5, but it was too late to prevent Walsall from grabbing all three points.
“The girls worked really hard today,” said Walsall manager Sam Simpkins. “We fell asleep at times, but apart from that we worked really hard.”
Walsall’s next match is against Stafford Town at home on the 11th February.