Notts County 1 Walsall 2
COMPETITION | Sky Bet League 1
SCORERS | Thompson (31) | Jones (16 og), Bradshaw (64 pen)
ATTENDANCE | 5,884 (490 away fans)
REFEREE | Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
An own goal and a penalty from Tom Bradshaw saw Notts County lose 2-1 at home to Walsall.
The Magpies went behind after 16 minutes, after a shot from Jordan Cook deflected off Gary Jones and into the back of the net.
Garry Thompson equalised 15 minutes later, finishing from close range after a pinpoint cross from Stephen McLaughlin.
Walsall regained the lead through a Tom Bradshaw penalty after Hollis handled the ball.
Noble went close late on for the Magpies, but they couldn’t find a way through as Walsall held on to a 2-1 win.
Magpies’ manager Shaun Derry made two changes to the side that snatched the three points at Scunthorpe United last weekend, thanks to a last minute penalty from Zeli Ismail. The match winner, Ismail, was back in the side after coming on as a substitute at Glanford Park, and replaced Shaun Harrad who took his place on the bench. Also in the side was Mike Edwards who started his first game since the victory in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy over Mansfield. He replaced Louis Laing who was injured for the fixture.
Walsall got the game underway and wasted no time in testing Roy Carroll. Jordan Cook on the right, cut inside and deceived Blair Adams before he tried to beat Carroll at the near post. The Notts keeper got down to his left well and made a strong save to deny the visitors.
The Magpies crowd were in good voice from the off and they only had to wait six minutes to see their side test Richard O’Donnell in the Walsall goal. Michael Petrasso found himself with plenty of space on the edge of the six-yard box. He struggled to get enough power in his header to beat O’Donnell as he parried it away. McLaughlin was waiting with a follow up shot, but it was blocked.
The home side continued to control the opening 10 minutes of the game, a long ball over from Haydn Hollis was nearly brilliantly controlled by Garry Thompson who managed to get beyond the last man of the Walsall defence. His first touch with his chest just got away from him as O’Donnell collected with ease.
Despite the away side having little of the possession throughout the first 15 minutes, they opened the scoring. Jordan Cook started the move on the right and a brief one two with Romaine Sawyers allowed Cook to run in on goal, his shot clipping off Gary Jones and into the back of the net via the post, leaving Carroll with no chance.
Notts didn’t sit back. Great work from Michael Petrasso opened up space for the winger before he played a pass through to Garry Thompson in the six-yard box. The forward held up the ball well, but he couldn’t quite turn as his weak shot was gratefully collected by the visiting shot stopper. Ismail too was producing good work down the wing, his cross in the 24th minute too high for the players waiting in the box.
It was all the home side again, Thompson showing good strength as he made a run towards goal with a Walsall player putting him under pressure. He did manage to get a good shot away, forcing O’Donnell to parry the ball as he saved down to his left.
The Magpies got what they deserved in the 31st minute as they levelled the game to make it 1-1. Garry Thompson had been giving the Walsall defence all sorts of problems during the first half and got his reward. A cross from Stephen McLaughlin on the left was perfect as Thompson ran in beyond the last defender and side footed the ball past O’Donnell to equalise. The striker had another chance only moments later, turning Paul Downing, but his shot with the outside of his foot went over the bar.
Walsall weren’t far away from retaking the lead in the final five minutes of the first half. A deflected Tom Bradshaw strike went out for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, the ball was placed right onto the head of James Chambers, whose header was going into the far corner, Liam Noble was there however to clear the danger.
Michael Petrasso was so close to putting the Magpies in front with what was a sensational solo effort. McLaughlin gave him the ball 40 yards from goal, and the QPR loanee just kept running with it. He skipped past four Walsall defenders, his control getting better as his run went on, but his brilliant play was foiled by the opposition keeper, as he saved well to deny Petrasso an incredible goal. That turned out to be the final chance of the half as Notts went into the break as the better side, but drawing 1-1.
HT: Notts County 1 - 1 Walsall
Notts started the second half as confidently as they finished the first half. Space opened up for Noble on the edge of the box as he hit a volley first time. O’Donnell wasn’t worried though as it went wide.
The beginning of the second half was a lot scrappier than the first, neither side took real control of the game, Walsall’s Anthony Forde tried to take the game into his own hands, unleashing a strike from 25 yards towards Carroll. The ball cannoned off Carroll’s chest and rebounded clear of the Notts goal. Romaine Sawyers too tried his luck from a similar distance but it went high and wide.
The away side were awarded a penalty midway through the second half. Tom Bradshaw flicked a ball onto the hand of Hollis. The referee adjudged it to be inside the box and awarded Walsall a penalty. It was Bradshaw who stepped up and sent Carroll the wrong way to put the away side back in the lead.
Notts made changes, bringing on Shaun Harrad and Ronan Murray, but they couldn’t find a way through the Walsall defence. The Notts defence were playing balls over the top, but James Chambers and Paul Downing won most of their second half headers.
A good interchange between, Blair Adams, Gary Jones and Michael Petrasso led to the latter being fouled in a dangerous position. Noble stood over the freekick and put a teasing ball into the box. It was flicked on into the path of an on running Mike Edwards, his header well saved by the Walsall goalkeeper.
As the minutes went on, neither side were really giving the goalkeepers much to do. Petrasso on a number of occasions in the final minutes put dangerous crosses into the box, both times it was a Walsall man to get to the ball first and clear the danger.
Liam Noble was inches away from earning the Magpies a point deep into injury time. Murray was fouled outside the box and Noble stepped up to take the freekick. He hit his strike well, but O’Donnell got across well to make an excellent stop. A Harrad header was the last chance for Notts and they went down to a 2-1 defeat, their first in twelve games.
FT: Notts County 1- 2 Walsall
MAN OF THE MATCH | Michael Petrasso
Had energy from the first minute to the last minute and gave the opposition right-back a lot to think about throughout the match. Plenty of dangerous crosses into the box and was very close to scoring a brilliant solo goal, skipping past four Walsall defenders but the keeper saved well. It was a difficult second half, but Petrasso still threatened and put good crosses in for the forwards to attack.
NOTTS COUNTY: Carroll, Dumbuya, Hollis ©, Edwards, Adams, Ismail, Noble, Jones (Wroe, 80), McLaughlin (Murray, 67), Petrasso, G Thompson (Harrad, 58)
Substitutes: Spiess, Wroe, Murray, McKenzie, Traore, Harrad, Cranston
WALSALL: O’Donnell, Purkiss, Taylor, Downing, A Chambers ©, Bradshaw (Grimes 85), Sawyers (Manset 85), Cain, J Chambers, Cook (Benning 80), Forde
Substitutes: MacGillivray, O’Connor, Mantom, Baxendale, Benning, Grimes, Manset
Look out for full reaction and post-match highlights on Magpie Player
NEXT: Notts County v Accrington Stanley (FA Cup) - Sunday 9 November 2014 (3pm Kick-Off) @ Meadow Lane (BUY TICKETS)
Photos by JMS Photography