Walker; Marsh, Pointon, Larusson, Viveash, Roper
Wrack (sub 78 mins Carter), Steiner (sub 74 min Eyjolfsson), Rammell, Keates, Mavrak
Steve Hayward, Fulham’s Walsall-born midfielder, denied The Saddlers a memorable victory with an explosive late 30-yard rocket. The Cottagers were often too casual and the home side twice took the lead, but the Champions showed their class by hitting back to equalise. There was little difference in the quality of play despite the fact that the Londoners had spent heavily, while Walsall have forked out just Â£35,000 in signing Richard Green
1-0 Walsall 40 mins Steiner
the striker raced cleared from the halfway-line and saw his first shot hit the post, but calmly collected the rebound to slot home a low shot to the left of ‘keeper Taylor
1-1 Fulham 44 mins Smith, J
Coleman’s long diagonal pass found the the full-back, who cut in to score with a right-footed angled shot past Walker
2-1 Walsall 70 mins Roper
Keates’ free-kick was headed goalwards by Viveash, but Taylor parried the effort out for the striker to knock the ball home from close range
2-2 Fulham 88 mins Hayward
the Walsall-born midfielder crashed home a 30-yard right-footed rocket which flew past ‘keeper Walker
Express & Star
Bescot revelled in a night of celebration as it turned its back on Second Division football with the result, for once, immaterial.
With the two top guests under the same roof, it was time to continue the party. After Saturday’s mixture of joy and relief, this was carnival time as Walsall and Fulham indulged in a spot of mutual back-slapping.
The visitors may have put a slight dampener on spirits by twice coming from behind to deny Saddlers ending their home campaign on a winning note, but the night was about much more than the destination of three points.
It was about saluting their players of the year, Jimmy Walker and Ian Roper. And it was a night when Ray Graydon received some long overdue national recognition. Above all, however, it was time to bask in glory and reflect on arguably the best season in Walsall’s history.
The fans applauded each other, the managers applauded each other as a feeling of mutual respect, highlighted by the guard of honour Fulham formed as Walsall entered the fray.
It was a nice touch on a nice evening, as was Kevin Keegan’s gesture in presenting Graydon with the Manager of the Month award.
There are not many who manage to upstage Keegan but Graydon did – and his team so nearly followed suit. The runaway champions, constructed by Al Fayed’s millions, were saved by what the Saddlers boss described as “a strike you would have gone a million miles to see.”
Given the feeling of warmth generated before kick-off, it was no surprise that the first half didn’t really burst into life. At times it resembled a pre-season friendly with net pockets of play but lacking the usual cut and thrust of a traditional league game.
That was understandable, with one side having achieved their target for the season and another having surpassed their wildest dreams.
It was the champions who looked the more likely scorers early on with their lively front duo of Barry Hayles and Kirk Lehmann causing one or two uncomfortable moments for Walsall’s rearguard.
It’s a sign of the quality Keegan has assembled when he can unleash Lehmann and Hayles and yet have Paul Moody sitting on the bench with Geoff Horsfield and Paul Peschisolido watching from the stand.
Lehmann and Hayles wasted a couple of good early opportunities before Walsall, prompted by Bjarni Larusson, started to come more into the contest.
After Lehmann had again fired over, on-loan Rob Steiner pounced to bag his third goal since his deadline day arrival from Bradford.
The strike came from a Fulham corner with Walsall turning defence rapidly into attack with Steiner cutting inside ex-Wolves defender Jamie Smith and firing past Maik Taylor.
However Keegan’s men drew level on the stroke of half-time when Smith latched onto Chris Coleman’s defence-splitting pass to finish emphatically.
The tempo was raised after the break and again it was Fulham who threatened with Walker dashing from his line to smother a Hayles shot and then Coleman firing just wide.
But again Saddlers struck first with Roper rounding off a memorable night that had seen him lift the Young Player of The Year award by bagging his first League goal.
Graydon sent on youngster Alfie Carter for his first team bow in place of Darren Wrack but Fulham snatched a draw courtesy of a moment of pure class from Walsall- born midfielder Steve Hayward.
He had been roundly booed on his return to the Midlands due to an incident in his Carlisle days that left former Walsall defender Stuart Ryder needing knee surgery and his popularity will have sunk even lower as he unleashed a 25-yard drive into the top corner.
In the end the outcome was just about right with neither side deserving to leave empty-handed.
The evening ended as it had begun with more prizes dished out as the Walsall lads came out two by two to collect their medals.
But the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the man of the moment as Graydon marched forward with skipper Neil Pointon to receive the runners-up trophy.
An entertaining match between Second Division champions Fulham and runners-up Walsall ended all square at 2-2 at Bescot Stadium.
The Fulham players formed a guard of honour at the start to congratulate Walsall on joining them in the First Division next season, but it was the Saddlers who took the lead five minutes from half-time.
Croatian Darko Mavrak slid a pass through the middle for Rob Steiner, on loan from Bradford City, to go through and hit a post _ but he collected the rebound, turned a defender and scored his third goal for the club.
In stoppage time at the end of the first-half Jamie Smith, on loan from Crystal Palace, equalised with a beauty for Fulham from Chris Coleman’s stunning pass.
Walsall regained the lead in the 70th minute when central defender Ian Roper notched his first league goal for the club after Maik taylor could only parry an Adrian Vivash header from Dean Keates’ free-kick.
But just when the cut-price Saddlers looked like clinching all three points, Fulham’s Â£12million team equalised two minutes from the end.
Ironically, Walsall-born midfielder Steve Hayward struck a magnificent shot from 30 yards which flew into the top corner.
Kevin Keegan is backing Walsall to survive alongside Fulham in the First Division next season.
After last night’s pulsating draw, the England and Fulham boss praised what Walsall boss Ray Graydon has achieved on a shoe string
The England manager said: “Walsall are a footballing side and it should suit them higher up.
“Ray Graydon has proved that he is very shrewd and I don’t see why they shouldn’t survive.”
The battle of the Second Division’s promoted clubs produced some great open football, with both sides scoring a good goal shortly before the interval.
Walsall who took the lead from a quick counter-attack five minutes before the break.
Croatian Darko Mavrak sent Rob Steiner on a 50-yard run. The Swedish striker’s low shot deflect off Jamie Smith onto a post but he gathered again to score past the helpless Maik Taylor.
Fulham struck back moments before the interval when a fine ball by Chris Coleman sent Smith clear to leave Walker no chance.
Walsall regained the lead after 70 minutes when a sweeping free-kick by Dean Keates was headed back by Adrian Viveash for Ian Roper to score from close range.
Two minutes from time Fulham equalised in spectacular fashion when Hayward unleashed a 30-yard thunderbolt which flew in.
WHEN Fulham, the Nationwide League second division champions, met Walsall, the runners-up, at the Bescot Stadium last night, a good time was had by all. The rival fans applauded each other, the players moved out of second gear only rarely and the points were shared when Steve Hayward, the Fulham midfield player, thundered in a 20-yard drive in the 86th minute. It might be a shade more competitive when the sides meet again in the first division next seaon.
The Fulham players set the tone by forming a guard of honour as their Walsall counterparts ran on to the pitch. Kevin Keegan, Fulham’s chief operating officer, and the England coach in his spare time, then presented Ray Graydon, the Walsall manager, with his manager of the month award for April and a vigorous hug.
Fulham, fielding a weakened side, appeared marginally the more interested in the early stages.Walsall gradually upped the tempo and were rewarded, in the 25th minute. A mistake by McAnespie was seized on by Mavrak, who sent Steiner clear. His intial effort was deflected on to a post, but Steiner quickly gathered the rebound and beat Taylor.
However, one minute into first-half stoppage time, Coleman released Smith and he cut in from the right to beat Walker with a low right-footed shot.
Keegan has no truck with mediocrity and Fulham reappeared in the second half as if they had received a few choice words from their lord and master but it was Walsall who regained the lead in the 69th minute. Keates’s free kick, from the right-hand side, was headed goalwards by Viveash at the far post, Taylor managed only to parry it and Roper smashed the loose ball into the roof of the net.
STEVE HAYWARD, Fulham’s Walsall-born midfielder, saved the Second Division champions from an undeserved defeat by his home-town club and the side who will follow them up with a spectacular strike from 30 yards with two minutes remaining at Bescot Stadium last night.
Walsall looked set for another prestigious scalp when Ian Roper restored their lead 20 minutes from time, earlier goals by the on-loan pair of Rob Steiner and James Smith having sent the teams in level at the interval.
The near capacity crowd resembled a mutual admiration society, with the rival supporters applauding each other’s songs. The mood was contagious. Fulham’s players formed a guard of honour to applaud the runners-up on to the pitch, while Kevin Keegan and Ray Graydon hugged like theatreland luvvies when the England coach presented his Walsall counterpart with the divisional Manager of the Month award.
Graydon’s success on a shoestring budget provides a template for cash-strapped clubs everywhere, as well as contrasting vividly with Keegan’s Â£12m outlay at Craven Cottage. Not a single member of Walsall’s starting line-up cost a fee, and they needed all their renowned spirit and organisation to withstand a strong opening by Fulham.
Barry Hayles, one of two Â£2m players in the visitors’ side, appeared determined to settle the game on his own by half-time. After only five minutes his goalbound shot from Smith’s cross thudded into a defender six yards out. Then, after a sinewy surge from 40 yards out had bamboozled the Saddlers’ back line on the quarter-hour mark, he dragged his drive wide.
Steiner had wasted Walsall’s only opening, heading straight at Maik Taylor from Dean Keates’ centre, before putting them ahead after 40 minutes. A Fulham corner was hacked clear to the Croatian, Darko Mavrak, who sent Steiner scampering over the halfway line. The Swede’s initial shot deflected off Smith onto the post, but he kept his composure to slot in the rebound.
Fulham drew level on the stroke of half-time. Chris Coleman showed a midfielder’s vision and passing accuracy with a long crossfield ball which picked out Smith’s run. From the right-hand angle of the penalty area, the wing-back’s angled drive tore past James Walker in the Walsall goal.
Hayward almost fired Fulham ahead with a 58th minute free- kick which flashed past the upright. Walsall came under increasing pressure as Keegan’s team went in search of the goal that might take them past the 100-point mark.
Walsall struck again when apparently struggling to stay on terms. A free-kick by Keates was met at the far post by Adrian Viveash, whose downward header was pushed in by his fellow centre-back Roper.
As an encore to the promotion celebrations which began three days before in recognition of their remarkable achievement in returning to the First Division after an absence of 10 years, Walsall were two minutes away from defeating the champions last night.
Then Steve Hayward, Walsall-born but a stalwart of Fulham’s victorious campaign, cracked home an equaliser from 25 yards.
Ray Graydon’s team were disappointed but quickly got over it as the evening ended with them receiving their runners-up medals. Graydon had been delighted to avoid the monthly managerial award all season, believing it is a curse and inevitably brings defeat in the next outing. Personal success has caught up with him at last, however, and before the game he received his champagne prize for April’s achievement of five victories.
Kevin Keegan had a hand in the presentation and has also promised to hand over the manager of the year award, should he be voted the winner, to the Walsall man in deference to what Graydon has built on resources that are meagre alongside Preston, let alone mega-millionaires Fulham.
With both sets of fans quick to applaud each other – what a novelty that is – and Fulham forming a commemorative line of honour to salute Walsall’s entrance on to the pitch, the occasion had significantly less tension than it would have had on March 27, the original fixture date before Keegan decided to take on additional commitments with England.
Nevertheless, nobody was hanging back once the whistle went, Fulham demonstrating what an incisive force they are at this level with Dirk Lehmann given a rare starting appearance and anxious to make his presence felt.
Twice the lanky German lifted efforts high over while Barry Hayles, involved in both moves and exuding speed and strength, saw one forceful run end with a low shot that slipped just wide of an upright.
Walsall had struggled to earn the same freedom, but were helped into a 40th- minute lead when, following a Fulham corner, Darko Mavrak was permitted possession and immediately sent Bob Steiner surging through. His initial attempt hit the post before the loan striker skilfully tucked the rebound away.
The lead lasted only six minutes before Jamie Smith took control of Chris Coleman’s long, diagonal pass and thumped his drive into the far corner. Then, midway through the second half, after Maik Taylor had saved from Adrian Viveash, Ian Roper restored Walsall’s advantage.