Express & Star

Analysis: Walsall control one of the big boys - can they now replicate it?

Walsall ended a five-match winless run in League Two in style with a stunning 2-1 victory over promotion chasers Mansfield Town at Bescot.

Emmanuel Abegboyega makes his point after coming off the bench to score on his league debut for Walsall

The Saddlers remain 16th place but reduced the gap between themselves and seventh-placed Harrogate Town to just six points.

Mat Sadler’s men travel to Harrogate next weekend and face Morecambe on Tuesday night, which begs the question, can they replicate this kind of performance against direct rivals in the table?

Walsall played with such fluidity both in and out of possession. The interchanging of positions was sharp and cute with Liam Gordon virtually playing as an inverted wing-back, while also dropping into defence when Taylor Allen decided to venture forward.

Brandon Comley did likewise when Priestley Farquharson went on one of his marauding runs during the first half. Jack Earing and Isaac Hutchinson constantly offered overloads down the flanks and Liam Gordon and Tom Knowles even swapped sides on a handful of occasions to create a sense of unpredictability.

The better chances fell to Mansfield during the first half but it always felt as if Walsall had a level of control over proceedings.

Nonetheless, had Will Swan been more clinical when one-on-one with Jackson Smith, or Stephen Quinn’s stooping header nestled into the bottom corner then it could’ve been a very different story.

There was also the contentious case of Aden Flint’s stabbed finish which appeared to cross the line.