Express & Star

Walsall 2 Salford 1 - Report

Mo Faal climbed off the bench to propel Walsall to a first victory in five with a dramatic late winner against Salford City at Bescot.

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Jamille Matt opened the scoring with a powerful header at the back post from Isaac Hutchinson's corner in the ninth minute, but Matty Lund equalised for Salford just past the hour-mark.

An end-to-end encounter was decided in the dying stages when Faal marked his second half entrance with a low finish past Salford goalkeeper Alex Cairns.

Walsall remain in 11th place and three points off the League Two play-off spots with six games remaining.

Sadler made three changes from Good Friday's 5-0 humbling at MK Dons. Club captain Donervon Daniels dropped to the bench as Emmanuel Adegboyega was restored to the back-three and Joe Foulkes was recalled at right wing-back.

Ross Tierney replaced Ryan Stirk for his first start in seven games and Matt returned to the starting XI at the expense of Faal to captain the side.

Walsall needed an immediate reaction following their battering in Buckinghamshire and they made the best possible start when Matt opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season in League Two.

Hutchinson, who was making his 100th appearance for the Saddlers, hung a beautifully flighted corner delivery to the back post. Matt muscled off his marker and crashed an emphatic header past Salford goalkeeper Alex Cairns.

Salford responded well to falling behind and squandered a glorious chance to equalise when Lund scooped Connor McLennan's low driven cross over the woodwork from point-blank range.

Douglas James-Taylor.

Salford continued to knock on the door with Conor McAleny forcing Jackson Smith into his first save of the afternoon just past the half-hour mark. The former Everton midfielder took aim with an effort from distance, which bounced awkwardly in front of the Walsall goalkeeper, but Smith got down low to produce a smart stop.

At the other end, Hutchinson bullied Elliot Watt off the ball on the inside-right position and swept a dangerous ball into the feet of Josh Gordon. The Walsall loanee brought it under control on his chest and sent a thumping shot straight at Cairns on the swivel.

Douglas James-Taylor was introduced at the interval with Matt making way and Hutchinson had a presentable opportunity to double Walsall's advantage.

Emmanuel Adegboyega embarked on a darting run down the right before feeding Hutchinson into a dangerous position but the Saddlers midfielder drilled his effort into the side netting.

Salford levelled proceedings moments later after Lund capitalised on an inviting cross from the right to head past Smith. Walsall could only partially clear their lines from a Salford corner and Ryan Watson swung a brilliant cross into the back post where Lund delivered a clinical header.

Sadler responded with the introductions of Ryan Stirk and Faal, while Salford threw on Matt Smith and Kelly N'Mai as the contest took on the nature of a basketball game.

.Jamille Matt celebrates his goal

Hutchinson almost immediately restored Walsall's advantage when Walsall stormed forward on a quick counter-attack through Douglas James-Taylor, before Hutchinson flashed a low shot wide of the far post.

Faal had a header saved by Cairns before the offside flag was raised, and Salford substitute Matt Smith failed to stretch Smith with a tame effort after Kelly N'Mai had flicked the ball in behind the Walsall defence.

Smith had to be alert to the danger when McAleny unleashed a low shot from the edge of the box. But the decisive moment came right at the death when Faal broke into the penalty area and poked a crucial finish beyond Cairns as the Bescot was sent into raptures.

Walsall are next in action when they travel to Prenton Park to face Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

Walsall (3-5-2): Smith; Adegboyega, Okagbue, Allen; Foulkes (Johnson 85), Hutchinson, Comley, Tierney (Stirk 66), L. Gordon; J. Gordon (Faal 66), Matt (James-Taylor 46).

Subs: Evans, Daniels, Farquharson.

Salford (3-5-2): Cairns; Vassell, Mariappa, Tilt; McLennan, Watson, Watt, Lund (Nmai 78), Garbutt; Hendry (Smith 78), McAleny.

Subs: Torrance, John, Chesters, Morton, Luamba.