Express & Star

Notts County 1 Walsall 2 - Report

Oisin McEntee's brace helped Walsall come from behind to beat Notts County 2-1 at Meadow Lane.

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Aden Baldwin put the Magpies ahead in the 32nd minute when he rose to head Jodi Jones' cross beyond Jackson Smith.

McEntee headed Walsall level on 56 minutes, and completed the turnaround with an emphatic first time finish nine minutes later.

The Saddlers ended a run of six league games without a win, and climb three places into 16th, and nine points clear of the relegation zone.

Walsall set-up in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Brandon Comley and Oisin McEntee as the double pivot, and Ryan Stirk playing a more advanced role alongside Ross Tierney.

They looked energetic during the opening exchanges, and made it difficult for County to build from the back with an intense high press.

Freddie Draper almost single handedly generated an opening for the Saddlers inside 10 minutes. He broke free down the left with a silky first touch and bulldozed his way into the box until his cross, which was intended for Ryan Stirk, was intercepted at the final second.

Tom Knowles almost caught out County goalkeeper Aidan Stone when he unleashed a quick free-kick towards goal from 40 yards, which fell the wrong side of the post.

Oisin McEntee was flagged offside when he was denied one-on-one by Stone, but Walsall failed to build on a relatively positive start.

Jones showcased his creative capabilities to pick out David McGoldrick inside the box, but David Okagbue came to the rescue with an important interception.

However, Walsall failed to heed the warning, and Jones moved into double figures for assists when his cross set-up Baldwin to open the scoring just past the half-hour mark.

County worked a free-kick short on the right, and Jones was afforded space to curl his cross into the penalty area for an unmarked Baldwin to guide an unerring header into the far bottom corner.

Things went from bad to worse for the Saddlers when Tierney hobbled off with a suspected hamstring injury just a week after returning to action.

Ryan Stirk and Lewis Macari

The Magpies had two further chances to extend their advantage before the break. Dan Crowley drove into the penalty area to force a near post save from Smith, and McGoldrick's low driven effort was diverted over the woodwork by Farquharson.

Walsall were looking to avoid drawing a blank for the fourth league on the spin for the first time since March 2018. And McEntee was the man to end the drought when he climbed above his marker to nod Gordon's cross into the far corner 11 minutes after the restart.

Draper chased the ball out to the left, and showed great strength to shield the ball from his marker. Gordon took over and scooped an inviting ball into the box, which McEntee duly took advantage of with a towering header.

McEntee showcased his heroics at the other end with a crucial interception to prevent Jones' low cross from finding McGoldrick inside the box. But Walsall looked completely rejuvenated after getting back on level terms, and McEntee was celebrating a first career brace on 65 minutes.

Isaac Hutchinson found himself free on the inside left channel and picked out McEntee unmarked inside the box. The Irishman showed ice cold composure to guide his side footed finish beyond the reach of a hapless Stone and into the top corner.

The home crowd grew restless and Walsall continued to battle their way to the finish line. Daniels should've doubled the Saddlers' advantage late on when he escaped his marker to meet Stirk's sumptuous free-kick delivery, but the captain could only guide his header straight down Stone's throat.

Walsall (3-4-2-1): Smith; Okagbue, Farquharson, Daniels; Knowles, Comley, McEntee, Gordon; Stirk, Tierney (Hutchinson 35); Draper.

Subs not used: Barrett, Matt, Foulkes, Williams, Earing, Allen.

Booked: Smith (26), McEntee (63).

Notts County (3-5-2): Stone; Macari (Brindley 59), Baldwin, Cameron; Nemane, Bostock (Gosling 59), Austin (O'Brien 59), Jones; Crowley (Morias 70), McGoldrick; Langstaff.

Subs not used: Slocombe, Randall, Chicksen.

Booked: Cameron (78), Baldwin (85).

Referee: Dale Baines

Attendance: 11,040 (1,059)