Express & Star

Walsall 1 Grimsby 2 - Report

Walsall failed to take their chances and were made to pay for a poor second-half performance as Grimsby Town completed a comeback victory at Bescot.


The Saddlers got off to a perfect start as Danny Johnson fired them ahead within a few minutes.

But the first home loss of the League Two campaign saw Michael Flynn's men prove to be the architects of their own downfall.

Tom Knowles missed big chances in either half, and as Walsall then sat deeper and deeper as the game progressed, Paul Hurst's Mariners capitalised.

Harry Clifton grabbed a quickfire double amid some off-colour defending from the home side, condemning the Saddlers to a disappointing defeat.

Having started the season with a bang, it is now five games without victory in all competitions.

Jack Earing

The way they shot themselves in the foot to lose this encounter will leave supporters concerned.

There is an obvious need to brush up in front of goal, too, and ease the burden currently on Johnson's shoulders.


An encouraging performance in a 1-0 Carabao Cup loss to Charlton Athletic in midweek had given Flynn some positive selection headaches.

Bennett impressed against the Addicks and was rewarded with another start at right-wing-back while Jack Earing and Knowles – who also caught the eye – kept their places in an attack-minded starting XI.

Andy Williams was among several forward options on the bench.

Grimsby, meanwhile, had to make do without Brendan Kiernan, with the Walsall loanee unable to play against his parent club.

Bennett was quick to justify his inclusion as he was instrumental in the Saddlers' opener just four minutes into the clash.

He had even gone fairly close to scoring before that as well, volleying high and wide after Johnson had stung the palms of Max Crocombe.

The goal came thanks to a lovely move that started with Bennett fearlessly driving down the right flank before playing a clever pass to Knowles.

The No.10's low cross was then instinctively prodded home by Johnson in the blink of an eye.

Tom Knowles and Andy Smith

That took hotshot Johnson to seven goals for Walsall – matching his tally for the whole of last term with league rivals Mansfield Town.

Having played a key role in taking the early lead, Bennett continued to catch the eye with his enthusiasm.

The Saddlers as a whole, though, had started to sit a little deeper, allowing Grimsby to have the lion's share of possession and grow in confidence.

The Mariners had a half chance as Clifton's header at the far post was caught by Owen Evans.

Still, the hosts were enjoying the better opportunities and should have doubled their advantage around the half-hour mark.

A counter-attack saw Earing drive towards the box and play the ball through to Knowles, but a heavy touch was followed up by a shot that sailed narrowly wide of the target.

Knowles – determined to get off the mark after his summer switch from Yeovil Town – would go on to force a fine finger-tip save from Crocombe with a long-range effort before the break.

Grimsby had seen a lot of the ball in the first period but failed to give Walsall any heart-in-mouth moments.

The visitors did threaten shortly after the restart, but Danny Amos' goal-bound strike was inadvertently blocked by his team-mate, Clifton.

Paul Hurst collides with Danny Johnson after unbelievably running onto the pitch! He was yellow carded for his efforts!

The Saddlers made an enforced change on the hour as, having gone up for a header, skipper Donervon Daniels appeared to tweak a muscle.

He was able to walk off comfortably. Flynn, though, refused to take any risks as Hayden White came on in his place.

Liam Bennett

The Mariners, continuing the story from the first half, continued to have most of the ball while Walsall had the more clear-cut openings.

Knowles spurned another gilt-edged chance after again being found by Earing.

He went one-on-one with Crocombe but frustratingly lacked a killer touch and could only fire the ball straight at the keeper.

The Saddlers' wastefulness in the final third, coupled with the decision to sit in and invite pressure, would cost them.

Walsall's backline were caught napping as substitute Aribim Pepple escaped the offside trap before firing across the face of goal for Clifton to finish.

Paul Hurst collides with Danny Johnson after unbelievably running onto the pitch! He was yellow carded for his efforts!....

He would punish further slack defending a few moments later as Anthony Glennon's deflected effort bounced around the box, with Clifton bundling in from close range.

The Saddlers, having also introduced Williams, tried to salvage something by bringing on Ronan Maher, Timmy Abraham and Isaac Hutchinson at the death.

A negative second-half display, however, resulted in a deserved defeat at Bescot.


Walsall (3-5-2): Evans; Daniels (c) (White, 60), P Clarke, Monthe; Bennett, Comley (Maher, 87), Kinsella, Earing (Williams, 76), Allen (Abraham, 87); Knowles (Hutchinson, 87), Johnson

Subs not used: Przybek (gk), James-Taylor

Goal: Johnson (4)

Grimsby (4-5-1): Crocombe; Efete, Waterfall (c), Smith, Amos (Pepple, 65); Clifton, Morris, Green (Wearne, 46), Holohan, Glennon; Taylor (Orsi, 81)

Subs not used: Battersby (gk), Pearson, Maguire-Drew, Khouri

Goals: Clifton (77, 82)

Attendance: 5,644 (807 Grimsby fans)

Referee: Peter Wright