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Walsall 1-1 Stevenage - Report

Walsall suffered late heartbreak as Stevenage's Danny Rose's 100th minute header denied them all three points and ended their winning start to the new season.

Walsall's Danny Johnson celebrates his goal
Walsall's Danny Johnson celebrates his goal

On a baking hot day at the Poundland Bescot Stadium, the on loan forward continued his purple patch in front of goal as he gave the in form Saddlers an early lead - latching onto a drop down from a long throw in to fire home.

For spells in the game it was the visitors, who had also won their opening two games of the seasons, who were on top but like last week Walsall's defence remained resolute.

Chances came on the break in the second half with Johnson and Williams both squandering efforts that would have made it a more comfortable afternoon for Flynn's men.

They had to survive a late spell of pressure from Stevenage and with the eight minutes of added time over it looked like they had done just that.

But in the tenth minute of added time they finally breached as Arthur Read crossed for fellow substitute Danny Rose to head home at the back post.

Walsall striker Danny Johnson in action against Stevenage

REPORT

Flynn made a number of changes for the midweek Carabao Cup win over Swindon Town - but he reverted back to the eleven that had picked up two wins from the opening two league outings.

Peter Clarke, Liam Kinsella, and Andy Williams were all recalled after their cup rests - with the latter coming back in alongside Danny Johnson, who came off the bench in midweek to score the first goal in the 2-0 win.

Stevenage's Jake Reeves saw an early half chance blocked - before Walsall's in form front man Johnson showed exactly why Flynn wanted him in this summer as broke the deadlock just 13 minutes in.

Skipper Donervon Daniels' launched a long throw into the box that wasn't dealt with by the Stevenage back line.

Williams battled with Carl Piergianni and the ball bounced straight into the path of Johnson who rifled home a left foot volley past Taye Ashby-Hammond, for his fifth goal in his first three games at the Poundland Bescot Stadium since joining on loan from Mansfield Town.

Walsall were the side on top for the majority of the opening quarter, getting into good areas and testing Stevenage - but they did have keeper Owen Evans to thanks as he reacted well to tip a close range effort from Jake Taylor wide against the run of play.

Soon after the Saddlers keeper, who has three clean sheets to his name since arriving earlier this summer from Cheltenham Town, got down well to keep out Jamie Reid's curling effort.

Both sides were showing glimpses of why they are the early pace setters in League Two, putting together good passages of play without being able to carve out clear cut chances- but it was tough going for both sets of players in the sweltering conditions with the referee Charles Breakspear allowing two drinks breaks inside the first 30 minutes of the game.

Steve Evans' visitors were having just as much of the ball if not more than the home side - but despite good build up play they were being thwarted by a stubborn and well drilled Saddlers back three that had performed so resolutely at Newport last week.

Four minutes from the break though and Stevenage looked like they might have carved the Saddlers open as a smart move down the right saw the ball find Taylor on the edge of the box.

He touched the ball into the box before going down under pressure from Manny Monthe, prompting big penalty calls from the Stevenage players and bench but referee Breakspear was having none of it and waved away the claims.

Boro, who had arguably been the better side in the first period, started the second on top.

Walsall players celebrate Danny Johnson's opener

However, after Daniels had dragged an effort wide from 20 yards out from the Saddlers, a long and looping ball caused a problem for the Stevenage defence and almost presented Flynn's men with a big chance to make it 2-0.

Taylor Allen looped a ball forward and Ashby-Hammond colliding with Terence Vancooten as he came out to clear.

The ball dropped for Johnson 25 yards out but just as he was about to have a strike at an empty net - Breakspear blew with the Stevenage defender down holding his head.

Minutes later a neat corner routine saw Isaac Hutchinson find Williams on the edge of the box - but he couldn't re-adjust his feet and get a shot off.

Walsall's Liam Kinsella goes in for a tackle with Stevenage's Saxon Earley

Jordan Roberts fired a free kick against the wall for the visitors - but as Evans made changes, pushed more men forward and went in search of an equaliser, Walsall were beginning to have more and more joy on the break.

With 25 minutes remaining Williams won the ball on the half way line and drove forward - before squaring to Johnson, but the ball was too far in front of the goalscorer and he couldn't get a clean connection on it.

Just seconds later it was Johnson who went tearing down the left after Walsall dispossessed the Stevenage midfield - but he could only fire over on the angle.

Walsall's Isaac Hutchinson

And the chances kept coming, as Williams picked up a loose ball and went bearing down on goal - but as he turned inside to shoot Vancotten got a vital touch to turn it behind.

Stevenage substitute Dean Campbell lashed over at the other end - before Evans was fortunate in the Walsall goal was his clearance deflected off visiting forward Reid before bouncing clear of danger.

Boro kept coming at the Saddlers - as Evans got down well to parry out a low and dangerous Read cross - with a number of ball being lumped into the box.

Under pressure, the Saddlers then had to navigate eight minutes of added time which they did but the game continued.

And as the clock ticked into the tenth minute of added time Read's deep cross from the right found fellow substitute Rose who headed home to rescue a point for his side.

Line-ups

Walsall: (3-4-1-2) - Evans

, White, Daniels, Clarke, Monthe, Allen, Comley, Kinsella, Hutchinson (Knowles 66), Johnson (Earing 76), Williams

Subs not used: Przybek, James-Taylor, Maher, Abraham, Bennett

Stevenage: (5-3-2) - Ashby-Hammond, Wildin, Piergianni (Read 72), Sweeney, Vancooten, Earley (Clark 46), Reeves, Taylor (Roberts 61), Bostwick (Campbell 46), Reid, Norris (Rose 61)

Subs not used: Chapman, Smith

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 5,079

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