Express & Star

Walsall analysis: Saddlers’ run ended as injuries continue to bite

Walsall suffered a first defeat in five as high-flying Mansfield Town condemned them to a 2-1 defeat at Field Mill.

Mansfield v Walsall action

The Saddlers had collected three draws and one win from their previous four games in all competitions, but faced a stern test at the home of one of League Two’s most in-form teams.

Mat Sadler was not helped by a growing injury crisis, which has swept across the squad, especially at the heart of defence.

Harry Williams was the latest victim as he was ruled out with an ankle injury, although David Okagbue made a surprise return to feature for the first time since being withdrawn after 45 minutes at Salford on September 9.

The club’s top goal scorer, Freddie Draper, also missed out after limping off against Crawley Town on Tuesday night.

That created one of the game’s most interesting sub plots, as Danny Johnson started on his return to the East Midlands.

However, a familiar tale played out during the opening exchanges. No other side in the division have conceded more goals in the opening 15 minutes than Walsall (eight) and Aden Flint gave Mansfield the lead on the quarter-hour mark after the Saddlers failed to clear their lines from a corner.

Owen Evans initially saved Flint’s header at the back post, before bizarrely clawing the ball back into the danger area.

Lucas Akins then nodded the ball into the path of Davis Keillor-Dunn, who was denied at point blank range by Evans.