Express & Star

Walsall 2 Mansfield 1 - Report

Walsall produced a spectacular 2-1 victory over League Two automatic promotion contenders Mansfield Town at Bescot to end a five-match winless run.

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Jamille Matt opened the scoring less than two minutes after the break when he shrugged off his marker to meet Isaac Hutchinson's pinpoint cross with a clinical header past Christy Pym.

Stephen Quinn equalised just three minutes later when he was fed by substitute Hiram Boateng to tuck a composed finish past Jackson Smith.

But Walsall continued to apply pressure and finally got their reward when Emmanuel Adegboyega powered Hutchinson's corner past Pym to score the winner on his League Two debut.

Mansfield arrived in the West Midlands having claimed a club record-equalling 9-2 victory over Harrogate Town in midweek.

Isaac Hutchinson

In contrast, Walsall had gone five league matches without a win and were looking to avoid back-to-back home defeats in League Two for the first time in over two years.

But the Saddlers made a positive start and looked very much in the contest during the first half despite the best chances falling to Mansfield.

Mat Sadler was forced into one change as Donervon Daniels missed his first League Two fixture of the season in what would've been his 100th appearance for the Saddlers.

Jack Earing

Hiram Boateng, who scored a hat-trick in the demolition of Harrogate, and Mansfield's leading scorer Davis Keillor-Dunn started on the bench along with Tom Nichols, as Ollie Clarke, George Maris and Will Swann came in for the Stags.

The Stags had two golden opportunities in quick succession just past the 15-minute mark. First, Swann slotted his finish wide after finding himself through on goal and one-on-one with Jackson Smith, before Stephen Quinn's stooping header whistled narrowly wide of the right-hand bottom corner.

Jack Earing drew a pair of comfortable saves from Mansfield goalkeeper Pym and Josh Gordon came closest for the Saddlers when he flashed his header wide of the target.

Smith produced a series of saves to keep Mansfield at bay, especially as he stuck out a crucial leg to prevent Swann from stabbing Quinn's low cross into the bottom corner.

The Walsall goalkeeper then prevented Aden Flint from scrambling the ball over the line at the back post and covered his near post expertly to deny Baily Cargill's powerful effort.

Priestley Farquharson went down with a knock on the cusp of half-time and was replaced at the start of the second half as Adegboyega was handed his League Two debut.

Tom Knowles

Matt's opener just two minutes after the restart set the tone for an action-packed second period, before Quinn levelled for Mansfield just three minutes later.

The contest took on an end-to-end theme but Walsall continued to go on the hunt for an immediate response with Matt glancing Hutchinson's cross wide. Earing made a superb into the box from the left hand side and his cross deflected into the path of Tom Knowles whose powerful shot was blocked behind.

The pressure finally tolled when Adegboyega restored Walsall's lead in the 65th minute, as Hutchinson claimed his second assist of the afternoon.

Liam Gordon was terrific after the break and his electrifying runs down the left ran Mansfield ragged at times.

Pym had to be at his most alert to prevent Walsall from doubling their advantage when Josh Gordon saw his powerful finish palmed behind by the Mansfield goalkeeper.

Smith arguably saved his best save for last as he somehow thwarted Lucas Akins' flick from Aaron Lewis' low cross at the death.

Jamille Matt scores

The Saddlers welcome Morecambe in their rearranged fixture at Bescot on Tuesday evening, before travelling to Mansfield's previous victims Harrogate next Saturday.


Walsall (3-1-4-2): Smith; Okagbue, Farquharson (Adegboyega 46), Allen; Comley; Knowles, Hutchinson, Earing (Stirk 90), L Gordon; J Gordon (Tierney 77, Matt (Faal 88).

Subs not used: Evans, Oteh, James-Taylor.

Mansfield (4-1-2-1-2): Pym; Bowery, Flint, Brunt, Cargill (McLauglin 78); Reed; Quinn (Lewis 70), Clarke (Boateng 46); Maris (Nichols 78); Akins, Swann (Keillor-Dunn 70).

Subs not used: Flinders, Williams.

Referee: Tom Parsons

Attendance: 6,645 (1,637)