A superb display of fast, attacking football today saw a confident Walsall side stride to a 3-0 victory over Northampton, taking us back to second in the table behind Millwall.
Northampton came to Bescot boasting five away wins this season, but were behind as early as the third minute. Even earlier the ball had shot across the Cobblers’ goal line, but nobody was on hand to ram it home. When the ball came back in, Andy Tillson headed it down, and Jorge Leitao fired home from close range for his 11th of the season. We had several more chances in the next 15 minutes – and Sir Ray has obviously been reading this site’s message board, as our corners were dramatically improved – but we couldn’t add to the scoreline.
Northampton’s best spell was towards the end of the first half. Jamie Forrester looked sharp in attack, spinning several times effectively, but too much attention began to fall on the referee, Mr G Laws from Whitley Bay. A quick glance at the Division 1 facts reveals this lad has used his card 23 times in just 6 games this year – and it’s a racing certainty today he had money with one of the spread betting firms on the number of times he was going to show his colours today. In a competitive match that never got that heated, it was a disgrace Mr Laws booked nine players. He made no allowance for the heavy pitch and slippery conditions, was fussy throughout, and was, in summary, the only liability on the pitch. Fortunately his linesmen were excellent, and his inepitude was not allowed to affect the result of the game.
Anyway, back to the match. Raymond kept his troops in for five minutes longer than Northampton at half time, and the talk obviously did the trick, as we came out firing. With 55 minutes gone Walker’s superb distribution fed Leitao just inside the Northampton half. His strong run in turn fed Paul Hall, surging into the box, and his cross shot was too strong for the Cobblers’ keeper.
Jim Walker made a superb save at the feet of the dangerous Forrester to keep the two goal cushion, and their new signing with the girls surname saw a header narrowly go wide. But Sir Ray threw on fresh legs to solidify the win, and with two minutes to go a fantastic performance by the whole Saddlers side was crowned when Gabby Bukran’s cleverly flighted corner was turned in by Brett Angell from all of two yards.
At 2pm in torrential rain on the M6 I feared the worst – credit to the groundsman, all at Walsall FC, and Northampton and their very vocal and supportive fans – a great afternoon’s entertainment.
The Walsall man of the match was Dean Keates, filling in for the suspended Tom Bennett. Tremendous tackling and an engine in top gear for the entire ninety minutes.