Notts County 2-1 Walsall - Report
A second-half brace from Enzio Boldewijn ensured Walsall slipped to a 2-1 friendly defeat at Notts County.
The Saddlers controlled the first-half at Meadow Lane and deservedly went in at the break ahead thanks to a goal from Dan Scarr.
But after both teams made a raft of changes on the hour-mark, Darrell Clarke's side lost their way with Boldewijn netting twice to earn victory for the National League side.
With the season just a fortnight away, Clarke named a strong starting line-up at Meadow Lane.
Recent recruits Danny Guthrie and Mat Sadler both featured from the off after missing the friendly against Odra Opole in Poland.
Josh Gordon and Elijah Adebayo also got the chance to continue their partnership upfront.
While there were too trailists on the bench, understood to be ex-keeper Joe Slinn and Rory Holden.
Unlike the friendly in Poland, the opening stages had a pre-season feel to them with little action early on.
Adebayo had a shot from eight-yards well blocked by a defender while Saddlers keeper Jack Rose had to race back and clear following an anxious moment from a Guthrie back-pass.
It was Walsall though who were comfortably the better team.
But while they kept getting into dangerous areas they were lacking a cutting edge in the final third.
They should have opened the scoring when Gordon did well to win the ball high-up from a defender.
The striker then had a simple pass to play in Adebayo but under-hit his effort.
Undeterred, Walsall continued to press forward with Gordon collecting a knockdown from Adebayo before spinning his man and firing wide.
Just before half-time though, the Saddlers did get their noses in front.
A Guthrie corner was nodded back into the danger area by Sadler.
And Scarr was on hand to lash the ball into the roof of the net from six-yards.
The goal meant the Saddlers deservedly led at the break, with the team, overall, looking organised.
Cockerill-Mollett, Sinclair and Adeabyo were arguably the standout performers.
After a quiet start to the second-half, both managers made a raft of changes on the hour mark.
Notts County made six subs with Walsall making eight meaning 14 outfield players were changed.
For the Saddlers, Shay Facey, Cameron Pring, Alfie Bates, Jack Kiersey, James Hardy, Rory Holden, Wes McDonald and Mitch Candlin were all introduced.
Cameron Norman, James Clarke, Liam Kinsella, Cockerill-Mollett, Guthrie, Sinclair, Adebayo and Gordon were the men to make way.
Within seconds, County had pulled level with the Saddlers failing to stop a cross from the left.
And that allowed Boldewijn to collect the ball and curl home a tidy finish from six-yards.
Just a few minutes later the hosts should have been ahead.
A heavy touch from Slinn saw the ball go straight to trialist Nathan Tyson.
The striker looked to lift the ball over the keeper but Slinn atoned for his error by make a block with his face.
With a little over 10 minutes remaining though, the hosts did find a winner with Slinn again in the thick of the action.
After a long ball was sent forward, the former Rushall loanee came charging out his box to clear it.
But Tyson got their first with the keeper then colliding with the striker.
Had there not been a recovering defender, Slinn would have seen red.
Instead, he got a yellow. But his punishment wasn't over with Boldewijn firing in the resultant free-kick from 18-yards.
Walsall: Rose (Slinn 46), Clarke (Pring), Scarr, Sadler; Norman (Facey), Sinclair (Kiersey), Kinsella (Bates), Guthrie (McDonald), Cockerill-Mollett (Holden), Gordon (Hardy), Adebayo (Candlin).
Subs not used: Leak.