York: Minns, McMillan, Thompson, Tinkler, Jones, Barras , Himsworth, Agnew, Cresswell, Rowe, and Hall. Subs. Reed, Jordan and Carruthers.
Walsall: Walker, Marsh, Pointon, Keates, Viveash, Roper, Wrack, Watson, Rammell, Larusson and Mavrak. Subs. Evans, Thomas and Brissett.
Referee: M Pike of Barrow
Mavrak instigated Walsall’s first forward venture when he tried to release Rammell with a through ball but Minns was alert to the danger racing from his line to punt the ball to safety.
But Saddlers next attack earned them the perfect start and they took the lead with just 2 minutes on the clock. Mavrak was again involved with a surging run down the left that was ended by a clumsy challenge from McMillan.
From the resultant free kick WRACK swung over an in-swinging cross that avoided both Viveash and Roper before curling into the corner passed Minn’s despairing dive.
The home side responded almost immediately with Tinkler rising to meet Hall’s corner, only to see Walker push aside his header.
The visitors then threatened again on 7 minutes and came close to doubling their advantage. Larusson was the creator with a defence splitting pass that sent Wrack racing free behind the York defence, he advanced into the area before unleashing a fierce right foot drive that was turned aside by Minns.
The open nature of the game continued with York making progress down the right where Himsworth swung over a teasing cross with Marsh coming to his side’s rescue with a timely headed clearance.
Both sides were looking comfortable in possession with the home side enjoying slightly more of the play but unable to penetrate a so far solid looking Saddlers defence.
There was one moment of concern for the visitors when Walker had to react quickly to block Cresswell’s progress with Rowe’s follow up effort then being blocked by Viveash.
Cresswell, who earned his first under-21 cap for England in mid-week, needed treatment after 18 minutes after he came off worse in an aerial dual with Rammell. But after a brieft stoppage the highly-rated striker was able to continue.
York’s next threat came via Agnew, who broke down the right, but his progress was halted by no fewer than three Saddlers players with Mavrak getting the final challenge to deflect the ball off Agnew and out for a goal kick.
Cresswell was looking the home side’s most dangerous player and it needed a crucial intervention from Roper to deny the striker a strike on goal as he worked space just outside the Walsall area.
Walsall were failing to pose much of an attacking threat and York came close to drawing level on 25 minutes. Keates looked to have been fouled just inside his own half and while Saddlers hesitated Himsworth advanced down the right before delivering a low cross that reached Hall at the far post, who then controlled before sending a left foot shot skidding across Walsall’s goal and just wide of the far post.
When Walsall did venture forward Rammell was proving to be their best outlet with the striker laying the ball into the path of Watson, who then found Marsh, but after skipping passed Hall, Barras was across quickly to check the full back’s progress.
The home side were continually using the flanks to good effect and another cross from Hall saw Rowe’s first time effort deflected just wide by Larusson.
The resulting corner then brought further alarm for the visitors with Rowe hooking over 6 yards after Walsall had failed to clear.
Almost immediately Saddlers were once again on the back foot as Thompson delivered a surging free kick from the left, and unfortunately for Walsall the ball skidded off the head of Jones and out for a goal kick.
Walsall were now struggling to find any rhythm going forward but their unrelenting work rate was making it difficult for York to carve out any clear cut opening, a point highlighted when Keates robbed Cresswell on the edge of the area as the striker shaped to shoot.
Some neat footwork from Agnew did carve out a half opening for Cresswell, but the striker uncharacteristically took his eye off the ball and completely miskicked.
Mimms had been a virtual spectactor for most of the half but was called into action after 38 minutes when he held a speculative long range effort from Rammell.
The half ended with York continuing to press with captain Jones leading by example as he made a surging break into the Walsall box, but once again a Saddlers defender was on hand to intervene with Viveash ending the threat.
The home side picked up where they left off straight after the interval with Rowe and Hall combining down the left but for once Hall’s final cross was disappointing with the ball sailing behind Walker’s goal.
Keates then started Walsall moving forward with a delightful cross field pass to Wrack, his progress was partially halted by Thompson and as the ball broke, Larusson let fly with a first time effort that flew high and wide.
After making a perfect start to the first half, Saddlers repeated the trick with WATSON bagging their second goal just 6 minutes into the half.
The home side appeared to be in little danger when Pointon hoisted a long clearance downfield, but Watson showed great composure to bring the ball down before rounding Barras and curling a delightful right foot shot beyond Mimms and into the far corner.
Amazingly Walsall could have made it 3 just a minute later after a rapid counter-attack. Rammell started the move by releasing Wrack for a free run on goal, the winger advanced before rounding Mimms and then pulling the ball back across goal only for Larusson to somehow turn his shot wide from inside the 6 yard box.
The second goal had clearly rocked the home side and Walsall once again carved their defence open as Keates, Larusson and Wrack combined to tee-up Watson, whose attempt to chip was foiled by Mimms.
There was a lengthy stoppage when Hall required treatment following a crunching tackle by Roper. The player clearly looked in some discomfort and he was finally stretchered off being replaced by Carruthers.
The visitors had clearly received a half time pep talk with manager Ray Graydon and were looking a far more livelier outfit with Wrack in particular looking dangerous.
Cresswell was still posing the Saddlers rearguard plenty of problems and another impressive burst from him was ended at the cost of a corner by Marsh.
Walsall were now starting to produce some neat constructive football and Wrack could have further increased their advantage after 66 minutes when he met a superb first time cross from Mavrak but failed to control his header with the ball flying just over Mimms’ cross bar.
York were pushing forward in an attempt to haul themselves back into the game, but Walker had been largely untroubled having to deal with just a couple of routine crosses.
The home side threw themselves a lifeline on 73 minutes when CRESWELL headed powerfully home from close range following a good run and cross by McMillan
Larusson was then inches away from restoring his sides 2 goal cushion with a sweetly struck long range effort that grazed Mimms right hand post.
A minute later Brissett, who had replaced Mavrak tried his luck from long range, but his dipping shot just cleared the bar.
Viveash came to his side’s rescue 10 minutes from time with a brilliant goal line clearance to block Agnew’s shot following a goalmouth scramble.