No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, you know. Our main weapons are fear, surprise and a ruthless efficiency. Well, the last one is certainly true, as the League 2 strugglers were duly dispatched.
From the moment that Scott Dann drew a good save from the keeper in the first minute (watching the replays, it was a good save, as Barnes had started going to wrong way), this was a game that Walsall completely dominated, to the extent that Grimsby’s only shot on target came with the last kick of the match.
Pead was running at the defence from the start, causing panic and mahem, and he had a chance to open the scoring, but shot weakly. Keates was the next to miss a chance, as he was set up by Ian Roper, following a set piece, but Grimsby were being forced further and further back as the Saddlers probed their defence.
Finally, the dam burst when Dobson produced a superb ball down the right channel, Sam not only held off the challenge, outsprinting the defender, he also rode a blatant hack at his ankle, before switching to his left foot and delivering an inch perfect cross onto the head of Martin Butler. Martin duly planted home his first goal since September.
Three more chances arrived before half time, as Butler chested down a free kick, but his second touch was too heavy, Keates missed a glorious chance on his right foot (unfortunately) and Hector Sam dragged a shot wide, following a flowing six or seven pass move from our own penalty area that would have been a goal of the season contender.
Walsall were cruising in second gear at this point and it looked as if the only way back into the game for the Mariners would be complacency. Instead, the Saddlers stepped up their game.
Scott Dann made probably his only mistake of the game, misjudging a curling cross which went narrowly wide, but the Walsall defence, covered superbly by Dobson, was looking its usual mean self.
Wright them produced a good hanging cross which Sam put narrowly wide as the Mariners were pushed back again.
There were several close things, with good blocks and narrow interceptions, before Hector Sam was replaced with half an hour to go by debutant Cederqvist.
He soon got in a header which was fumbled by the keeper and Keates nearly got to the rebound, then good work from Westwood led to a cross which flashed across the goal with no one getting a touch.
With 12 minutes to go, however, the game was settled when Cederqvist got in a header from another dangerous free kick, the keeper fumbled the ball for the fourth time on the evening and, this time, Butler was on hand to force home his second.
Keates was replaced by Demontagnac, whose first contribution was to cut inside on his right foot and produce a good, low drive, saved by the keeper, then Cederqvist again showed his promise with a glorious header that went just over.
In injury time, Roper was replaced by Gerrard, after going down with cramp, and there was just time for the new man to completely misjudge a straight through ball, which found North, but his shot was tipped over by Ince, for his only save in anger of the entire match.
Man of the match went to Butler, but virtually anyone could have picked this one up, even Ince, whose catching was exemplary. An honourable mention has to go, however, to Hector Sam, who seems to thrive on competition and, boy, has he got some competition in the shape of the impressive Cederqvist!