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Walsall 1 Northampton 0 - Report

Walsall picked up their first win since August 9 as Danny Johnson’s ninth goal of the season handed them all three points at home to Northampton Town.

Walsall v Northampton action (pic Owen Russell)
Walsall v Northampton action (pic Owen Russell)

A fairly even start to the game saw the Saddlers edge the action, as the impressive Isaac Hutchinson went close on several occasions.

As the game was winding down for half-time, Johnson found himself in the right place at the right time once again to notch his ninth in all competitions.

The second half also started brightly for Walsall as Hutchinson went close again, but the tide began to turn as the Walsall defence sat deeper and Northampton found more space.

However, the Saddlers stood firm to see out the victory, which is their first for almost two months and their first in League Two since August 6.

The victory ends a spell of 12 games without a win and eases the pressure on the coaching staff.

It is also impressive to beat a Northampton side who started the day second in the league after five consecutive league victories.

Michael Flynn made four changes to his side and started in a 5-2-1-2 formation.

Hayden White, Taylor Allen, Hutchinson and Douglas James Taylor all came in as Peter Clarke, Liam Gordon, Jacob Maddox and Tom Knowles all dropped to the bench.

Jon Brady made two changes to his team and started in a 4-5-1 formation.

Ben Fox and Danny Hylton came in, while Northampton were missing League Two leading goalscorer Sam Hoskins.

In a frantic start at the Bescot, both sides were full of energy in the opening minutes. A chance almost opened up for Hutchinson, too, when he broke forward in midfield but he was caught in two minds and neither shot or played a pass before losing possession.

Walsall were often looking for the long ball into the right channel, with Liam Bennett and James-Taylor the target, as they looked to nod the ball down to Johnson or Hutchinson. They had some joy early on, too, but were just missing the final touch.

Hylton made an aggressive start for the visitors with several elbows and palms to Walsall faces, and he was finally booked after 20 minutes for an incident off the ball.

The best chance of the half fell to Hutchinson when the ball broke to him on the edge of the box and his low strike was saved by Lee Burge.

Northampton were appealing for a penalty after Kieron Bowie break free down the left and was bundled to the floor by Manny Monthe. The Walsall defender was rather heavy handed in his jostling, but the Town man went down too easily and referee Samuel Barrott waved away the appeals.

After 38 minutes Walsall took the lead and capitalised on a period when they were on top. A Brandon Comley cross was aimed at Liam Kinsella but Ryan Haynes got to it first. However, the defender’s flick on only directed the ball as far as predatory striker Johnson who reacted quickest to head home from close range.

The home crowd were buoyed by the goal and the Saddlers almost notched a second. Hutchinson’s long-range effort took a deflection and was just saved by Burge. Johnson picked up the loose ball and crossed for Bennett, who had a header cleared at the far post.

Former Walsall man Jon Guthrie could have seen red when a nasty late challenge on Kinsella sent the midfielder flying into the advertising boards. He was only booked, to the anger of the home fans.

The Saddlers entered the break leading 1-0 and were good value for their advantage.he Saddlers entered the break leading 1-0 and were good value for their advantage. The Saddlers entered the break leading 1-0 and were good value for their advantage.

Within the first minute of the second half Walsall almost doubled their lead. A Bennett cross almost found Hutchinson in the box, before moments later the midfielder had a rocket of a shot saved.

Walsall were on top and consistently creating chances. This time, the ball fell for Kinsella from distance and his effort was blocked for a corner, which came to nothing, despite a remarkable Comley delivery.

The visitors still posed a danger and a good effort from distance was blocked by Monthe just in front of goalkeeper Owen Evans.

The tide was starting to turn as Northampton began to find more space in the final third, but Walsall were standing firm defensively after 65 minutes.

Knowles should have scored after 78 minutes when he raced through on goal but Burge pulled off a remarkable save to deny him.

Marc Leonard whipped in a wonderful cross late in that was crying out for a touch, as the visitors pressed for an equaliser. In response, Walsall brought on experienced defender Clarke to see the game out.

With four minutes of added time on the clock it was a nervy end for Walsall, who sat extremely deep, but with the backing of the home crowd they saw out a much-needed victory


Walsall: Evans, Bennett, White, Daniels, Monthe, Allen, Kinsella, Comley, Hutchinson (Clarke, 89), James-Taylor (Knowles, 75), Johnson (Williams, 68).

Subs not used: Gordon, Maddox, Maher, Cashman.

Northampton: Burge, Lintott, Sherring, Guthrie, Fox (Cross, 81), Pinnock, Haynes (Dyche, 63), Sowerby, Leonard, Bowie (Appere, 63), Hylton (Eppiah, 77).

Subs not used: Maxted, Tomlinson, Abimbola.

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