Walsall Women picked up an important victory in emphatic style on Sunday as a late goal in injury-time from Saanya Najib saw Joe McGrath’s side claim all three points against Wyrley Ladies.
The Saddlers went into Sunday’s game at Dales Lane on the back of a 0-3 victory at Darlaston Town looking to make it back-to-back wins and three unbeaten in the league.
There was little to separate the sides in the opening stages as both teams struggled to find any rhythm and assert dominance.
The hosts enjoyed a lot of possession early on but were caught on the counter attack as Wyrley went through on goal and looked almost certain to take the lead but a brilliant last-ditch tackle from captain Abi Turner kept the scores level.
McGrath’s side responded well and opened the scoring shortly after. Leah Shearer received the ball out wide and did well to manoeuvre her way into the box before taking aim at goal. Her effort was saved but parried into the path of Elle Tandy who kept her composure and slotted away from close range to give the Saddlers the lead.
Walsall were now in the ascendency and looked to extend their lead and had another glorious chance on 31 minutes. A delivery into the box from Jasmin Springer deflected off a Wyrley defender and was dropped by the keeper into the path of Tandy who was unable to grab her second of the game as her effort went wide of the goal.
Wyrley Ladies then began to create some opportunities and almost levelled on 39 minutes as they managed to break the offside trap and run towards goal. Saddlers keeper Olivia Wells came out but missed the ball and with the attacker looking destined to score, Turner was on hand once again to stop them and clear the ball away for a corner, much to the delight of her team mates.
This sense of relief was cut short however as from the resulting corner, Wyrley managed to get a fortuitous deflection and the ball found its way into the back of the net to make the scores level ahead of the break.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first however the hosts seemed to set their stall out, playing with a higher tempo and extra intent to put themselves back in front in the game.
The Saddlers were knocking on the door and had a host of opportunities at goal. Tiannah Beckford had a shot on goal which was parried away for a corner before Heather Clayton unleashed a fierce strike which cannoned off the crossbar on 53 minutes.
Phoebe Smith had a shot which was well saved by the Wyrley keeper before Annie Woodward had an attempt on goal but was unlucky not to convert. The Saddlers continued to assert dominance and created more opportunities but with the Wyrley keeper in inspired form, it looked certain to be a game of missed opportunities for the hosts.
Despite their misfortune in front of goal, McGrath’s side demonstrated great resilience right up to the last second and were rewarded for their efforts in what was virtually the last kick of the game.
A clearance from the Walsall half saw the ball fly out to the left wing, where Tandy ran onto it before squaring the ball across the edge of Wyrley’s 18-yard box into the path of Najib who took a touch before finishing emphatically into the back of the net; queueing sparks of celebrations from the Walsall players.
That was the last of the action as the full time whistle was blown and McGrath’s side claimed an emphatic three points on home soil to maintain their unbeaten start to the new season and make it back-to-back wins in the league.