Off the bottom at last

Last updated : 12 January 2004 By Tony Scholes

The Saddlers are five points clear of Stoke at the top and were looking to pull even further clear this afternoon but it all went wrong for a side that had previously been beaten just twice all season. Their previous defeats had both been away from home against Bradford City and Tranmere Rovers.

Dean West and Alan Moore were both in the Burnley side alongside two of the three trialists from last week, one of whom is believed to be an American, whilst Walsall had a number of experienced players in their side.

We started the brighter of the two sides and Alan Moore hammered a free kick against the bar as we put Walsall under some pressure.

The home side came back at us but we defended superbly. Walsall did have a lot of the possession but they were hardly able to cause us any trouble with Ryan Townsend in particular good form at the back.

In fact Walsall had goalkeeper Dean Coleman to thank for going in level at half time when he made a superb save from Rhys Carpenter who was one-on-one with the keeper.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Walsall unable to break us down and again Carpenter beat the offside trap but was this time denied by a recovering defender who somehow managed to block his shot.

But the Welsh striker was not to be denied a third time and when a corner was cleared off the line he was first onto the ball to find the net from close range through a crowd of players. That was with thirteen minutes to go and there was to be no way back for Walsall who failed to trouble us.

The win lifts us above both Hull City and Barnsley by one point although they do both have two games in hand. But we are giving ourselves a chance of avoiding relegation and finally, with some experienced players allowed to play, are picking up some good results.

The teams were:

Walsall: Dean Coleman, Ryan Willetts, Jonny Harkness, Stefan Oakes, Matt Carbon, Kris Taylor, Jamie Lawrence, Dave Carney (Daryl Taylor), Karl Hawley (Taiwo Atieno), Mark Wright, Pedro Matias. Subs not used: Sean Platt, Nathan Jameson, Scott Dann.

Burnley: Michael Hale, Dean West, Ryan Townsend, Allan Hunter (Gary Carter), Danny Pitham, Matt O’Neill, Joe Booth, Joel Pilkington, Alan Moore, John Harrison (Alex Taylor), Rhys Carpenter. Subs not used: Marc Pugh, Tom Ince, Darrel Avery.

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