Sunday, 29 October 2017

Season 1962-63 - Walsall are relegated.

Posted by Tony Hutton

In September 1962 I got married for the first time. This rather curtailed my football watching activities and I only saw a dozen games. I have the results and goalscorers and that is about all.
It was also one of the hardest winters for many years and games were postponed week after week between the middle of December  and the beginning of March. The season was extended to the end of May when I do have the full story of Walsall's relegation back to the Third Division.

Pleased to say that normal service will be resumed for the start of season 1963-64.




Boswell; Gregg, Palin; Hill, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Richards, Wills, Taylor;

Wood; Atkins, Wilson; Saward, Taylor, Dinsdale;
McHale, White, Stokes, Massie, O'Grady;

Huddersfield who had started the season with a draw at Derby looked as if they meant business.
The visitors' close passing game had the Walsall defence in trouble early on and although McHale had been guilty of one pass too many on a few occasions he eventually got the message and tested Boswell with a stinging shot from the edge of the area.

After only fifteen minutes Huddersfield took the lead when Ray Wilson, playing at his constructive best, cantered upfield to cross a perfect ball for Stokes to flick home. Huddersfield now had all the possession but first Stokes, then Massie and later O'Grady  all ballooned the ball over the bar from close range. Wood was hardly called into action, apart from dealing with back passes, in the first half and Walsall's first effort on goal did not come until the second half. Half time 0-1.

Huddersfield immediately were made to suffer for their missed chances when Tony Richards, now nearing the 200 goal mark for Walsall, put them level after a clever pass from Gordon Wills, the new man from Leicester. Palin started the move and then Wills lobbed the ball down the middle for Richards to volley it on the turn past a startled Ray Wood.

Huddersfield were always able to play their way out of trouble and keep possession whereas Walsall were not as efficient. Wood did well to keep out a tremendous drive from Hodgkisson in the closing minutes and Boswell also did well to dive at McHale's fee. A draw was a fitting result.



WALSALL 1 (Taylor) LEEDS UNITED 1 (Johanneson)

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Rawlings, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, richards, Wills, Taylor;

Sprake; Reaney, Mason; Bell, Charlton, Hunter;
Hawksby, Payton, Lawson, Collins, Johanneson;

Referee:- N.N. Hough, Littleborough

Leeds United took an early lead through their South African winger Albert Johanneson and looked to be taking both points until Colin Taylor equalised just three minutes before the end with only his secon league goal of the season.



WALSALL 1 (Taylor) CHELSEA 5 (Tambling 2, Moore, Dudley og, Bridges)

Boswell; Gregg, Palin; Hill, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Richards, Newton, Taylor;

Bonetti; Shellito, Harris (A); Venables, Mortimore, Upton;
Murray, Tambling, Bridges, Moore, Knox;

Referee:- S.B. Stoakes, Nottingham.

These pictures and report are from the following week's Chelsea programme.

 Tambling scores the fifth through the goalkeeper's legs.

The table shows Chelsea at the top of the league with Walsall struggling near the bottom.






WALSALL 3 (Richards 2, Eastham og.) BURY 1

Boswell; Hill, Gregg; Dudley, McPherson, Rawlings;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Richards, Newton, Taylor;

Harker; Robertson, Eastham; Turner, Stokoe, Atherton;
Mayers, Jones, Calder, Beaumont, Barclay;

Referee:- R.E. Smith, Newport, Mon.






WALSALL 0 MANCHESTER CITY 1 (Harley)                       Attendance 11,553

Boswell; Sharples, Gregg; Hill, McPherson, Rawlings;
Meek, Hodgkisson, O'Neill, Richards, Taylor;

City team:- Dowd; Betts, Sear; Benson, Leivers, Pardoe;
Dobing, Kennedy, Harley, Hannah, Wagstaffe.

Referee:- H.P. Hackney, Barnsley.

This third round cup tie was originally scheduled for Saturday 5th January, but the date on the programme was Wednesday 30th January, after several postponements due to the wintry weather.
However the bad weather continued and the match was eventually played on Wednesday 6th March.

It was not a particularly memorable game, Manchester City were always in control and won the game by a single goal scored by centre forward Alex Harley.



WALSALL 2 (Taylor, Meek) PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 2 (McParland, Carter)

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Hill (capt), Eden, Dudley;
Meek, O'Neill, Wiggin, Hodgkisson, Taylor;

Leiper; Roberts, Davis; Reeves, Newman (capt), Buckingham;
Corbett, McAnearney, Carter, O'Neill, McParland;

Referee:- T.W. Dawes, Norwich

After the long winter break which had seen seven successive league games postponed during January and February, Walsall had a very poor run of form which has seen them lose their seven matches and they now find themselves at the bottom of the league.

In this game they did at least salvage one point with a much changed side with local youngster Wiggin at centre forward in place of Tony Richards, the club's record goalscorer who has been transferred to Port Vale. Richards scored 196 goals for the club thus beating previous record holder Gilbert Alsop's total of 165. He has been a consistent goalscorer throughout his nine years with the club since he was signed by then manager Major Frank Buckley. He twice scored 36 goals in a season and will be missed by all Saddlers followers.



WALSALL 2 (Newton, O'Neill) CARDIFF CITY 1 (King)

Boswell; Palin, Gregg; Hill, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, O'Neill, Newton, Taylor;

John; Stitfall, Edwards; Harrington, Peck, Hole;
McIntosh, Tapscott, Fraser, King, Hooper;

Referee:- K.R. Tuck, Chesterfield

Another valuable two points for the Saddlers in yet another close battle. Newton put them ahead in the first half and they led 1-0 at the interval. King equalised for Cardiff, but O'Neill who has not really settled into the side got the vital winner.



WALSALL 3 (Newton, O'Neill, Meek) NORWICH CITY 1 (Allcock)

Boswell; Palin, Gregg; Hill, McPherson, Rawlings;
Meek, Hodgkisson, O'Neill, Newton, Taylor;

Jones; Kelly, Ashman; Burton, Metcalf, Mullett;
Sutton, Bryceland, Allcock, Hill, Miller;

Referee:- J. Mitchell, Prescot, Lancs.



WALSALL 0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0 (Game abandoned at half time - torrential rain)

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Hill, McPherson, Rawlings;
Meek, Hodgkisson, O'Neill, Newton, Taylor;

Wakeham; Sewell, Hewie; Lucas, Tocknell, Edwards;
Kenning, Peacock, Ryan, Kinsey, Durandt;

Referee: G.D. Roper, Swaffem Prior, Cambridge.

This vital game, which if Charlton won would save them and send Walsall back into the Third Division, was played on my birthday. However at half time the sky turned black and an absolute
torrential downpour flooded the pitch and the match was abandoned. It was hastily re-arranged for the night of Friday 24th May, just three days later. The season had already been severely prolonged because of the hard winter in January and February.



WALSALL 1 (Taylor) CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2  (Peacock, Kenning)

This was the night when everything went wrong for Walsall. They had looked confident to get at least the point they needed to avoid relegation in the first match, so sadly abandoned after the torrential downpour at half time.

The story of this memorable game is vividly told by Geoff Allman in his excellent book 'Walsall F.C. - Fifty of the finest matches' published in 2002 re-printed here.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

1961-62 - Part seven (FA Cup semi-final Burnley v Fulham)

Posted by Tony Hutton



BURNLEY 1 (Leggat)  FULHAM 1 (Connelly)                          Attendance 59,989

Blacklaw; Angus, Elder; Adamson, Cummings, Miller;
Connelly, McIlroy, Pointer, Robson, Harris;

Macedo; Cohen, Langley; Mullery, Dodgin, Lowe;
Leggat, Henderson, Cook, Haynes, O'Connell;

Referee:- W. Clements, Birmingham

Fulham, struggling to avoid relegation, could not have imagined when they beat Walsall in a fourth round replay that they would be just one match from Wembley at this stage of the season. However here they were, but very much underdogs against the powerful Burnley side who are currently First Division leaders.

Fulham began well in bright sunshine and took the game to Burnley, who seemed strangely hesitant.
Centre forward Cook twice went close with headers, once following one of Langley's long throws and then Blacklaw made a brilliant save when Cook headed on Langley's corner. McIlroy, the brains of the Burnley attack took an early knock and had to receive treatment. This seemed to slow him down somewhat and Fulham remained on top.

After 28 minutes as the sunshine turned to sleet Cook and Haynes combined to put Leggat through and he scored with a left foot shot from 15 yards. The pitch was now white all over with sleet and hail and the huge crowd on the uncovered Holte terrace were in for a soaking. Blacklaw was continually in action in the Burnley goal first blocking a shot from O'Connell and then sticking out a foot to stop a point blank effort from Johnny Haynes. Connelly lead two brief raids at the other end but Fulham had been by far the better side. Half time Burnley 0 Fulham 1.

The snowstorm continued for a few minutes at the start of the second half and then to the relief of the fans it stopped. No sooner had it done so Burnley went level a square ball from McIlroy, still limping somewhat, found Connelly who scored from ten yards. Fulham came back strongly straight away as the snow began to fall again. The players were finding it difficult to keep their footing and Burnley were finding it hard going against the likes of Mullery and Cohen who both had fine games.

In the last ten minutes Burnley had two opportunities to score the winner and missed them both. First McIlroy put Pointer clear down the middle, he raced through outpacing the defenders only to finish with a drive which went just inches over the bar. The five minutes from the end Robson missed a great opportunity when he headed a great cross just wide. Fulham had been the better side throughout and must have felt hard done to with only a draw.

(The replay took place at Filbert Street, Leicester on 9th April and Burnley went through to the final by winning 2-1. Details of the Final when they played Spurs will follow later).



WALSALL 1 (Meek) LEEDS UNITED 1 (Johanneson)              Attendance 9,005

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Hill, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Foster, Richards, Taylor;

Younger; Hair, Mason; Goodwin, Charlton, Smith;
Bremner, Collins, Lawson, Peyton, Johnanneson;

Referee:- H. Richards, Oldham

Both teams struggled to control the ball in a heavy cross wind and far too many balls were hit into the air when a pass along the ground was called for. Lowly placed Leeds were still in danger of relegation to the Third Division and their star man proved to be South African winger Albert Johnanneson, whose speedy runs down the left had the Walsall defence in trouble. Indeed with a bit of luck he could have had a hat-trick.

As it was Walsall took the lead after 24 minutes in somewhat fortunate circumstances. Taylor mis-kicked and sliced his shot across goal, where Meek collected and hit a hard shot into the net after being deflected off the diving goalkeeper. Leds came more into the game after this and Goodwin hit the post and Boswell saved well from a fierce drive by Johnanneson. Meek went close at the other end and Tommy Younger, the Leeds goalkeeper needed attention after the ball struck him in the midriff.

Younger soon recovered his breath and did well to finger tip a 30 yard swerving effort from Colin Taylor over the bar. Just before the interval the dangerous Johanneson had a great chance for Leeds. He ran onto a defence splitting pass and his hard shot was blocked by Boswell. The rebound went straight back to him but he lofted it high over the bar when he seemed certain to equalise.
Half time 1-0.

In the second half Leeds began to play the better football, despite the high wind and it was backs to the wall time for the Walsall defenders. Boswell had to race out of goal to stop Johanneson again and had to boot the ball out of play. Younger was injured again when he got a knock in the ribs as Foster tried to head in a Richards cross. Both sets of forwards struggled in the windy conditions and the game deteriorated as both teams missed several good chances.

In the 75th minute Boswell could only palm the ball out. It went straight to Johanneson who hit it back just inside the far post from a narrow angle. With Leeds now on level terms they went all out for the winner. Boswell had to push an effort from Lawson over the bar but Walsall managed to hold out for the draw despite constant late pressure from Leeds.

(Walsall finished their up and down season in a satisfactory 14th place certainly managing to hold their own in the division. Leeds finished in 19th place just three points away from relegation)


F.A. CUP FINAL AT WEMBLEY  (On Television)           Attendance 100,000

TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS 3 (Greaves, Smith, Blanchflower pen) BURNLEY 1 (Robson)

Brown; Baker, Henry; Blanchflower (capt), Norman, Mackay;
Medwin, White, Smith, Greaves, Jones;

Blacklaw; Angus, Elder; Adamson (capt), Cummings, Miller;
Connelly, McIlroy, Pointer, Robson, Harris;

Referee:- J. Finney, Hereford

This start to the Cup Final obviously gave Spurs the edge yet Alan Hoby of the Sunday Express did not pick Jimmy Greaves as man of the match, nor did he pick skipper Danny Blanchflower whose stroking and caressing of the ball he described as sheer poetry. He also considered 'The Ghost' as inside forward John White was known and the Scottish warrior Dave Mackay known to the fans as 'The Tank'. Hoby's selection was giant centre half Maurice Norman, who in the past has been accused of defects of temperament and tecnique. Going a bit over the top Hoby said Norman bestrode the middle like a mountain peak in his task of subduing the dangerous Ray Pointer.

Goal number one for Jimmy Greaves.

So with Pointer to some extent bottled up it was left to mid field maestros McIlroy and Footballer of the Year Jimmy Adamson to try other avenues of attack. Harris hit one over the bar and Robson had a header saved with ease by the capable Bill Brown in the Spurs goal. Spurs had a scare when Mackay went down injured but the tough Scot was soon back in action after treatment. John White then tried a lob which Blacklaw saved well under the bar but Burnley were on top just before the interval and the game was by no means over. Half time Spurs 1 Burnley 0.

Five minutes after the interval Burnley were level and it was a mistake from the normally immaculate John White who tried to flick the ball to Mackay but left him stranded. Pointer was away and gave the ball to Harris on the left who turned a short pass inside for Robson to score easily. The Burnley supporters found their voice and the North had come from behind to rock the South back on it's sophisticated heels. Not for long though.

Goal number two for Bobby Smith.

White was immediately away down the left after the kick off and floated a beautiful ball into the middle and there was centre forward Bobby Smith, with socks around his ankles, taking the ball from Tommy Cummings he went round him with a double shuffle and hammered the ball home. 2-1 to Spurs and now it was Burnley back on their heels. They came back though with Adamson and McIlroy scheming away in midfield. Connelly missed a golden chance with an open goal, then Robson missed another and even though Bobby Smith was by now limping after a fierce Cummings challenge Spurs were in control.

Eight minutes from the end a slice of luck ended Burnley's hopes. Greaves who had made little impact in the second half slipped a nice ball through to Medwin on the left, who passed it on to White. His immaculate cross found a group of Burnley defenders jumping to clear and the linesman flagged as Smith appeared to have impeded goalkeeper Blacklaw. Referee Finney ignored this signal and waved play on so Medwin shot for goal and the ball struck the unfortunate Cummings who was standing on the goal line. Referee Finney had no doubt - handball by Cummings and a penalty to Spurs.

Goal number three from Blanchflower.

Danny Blanchflower, the Spurs captain, took the kick with his usual precision, sending Blacklaw the wrong way and the ball into the opposite corner of the net. 3-1 to Spurs and the game was all over.
Sadly Burnley had not risen to the occasion and Spurs after their double triumph last season had the confidence to perform on the biggest of stages.


1961-62 - Part six (3 more Walsall games & Football League v Scottish League)

Posted by Tony Hutton



WALSALL 1 (Hodgkisson) LIVERPOOL 1 (A'Court)                 Attendance 13,660

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Hill, McPherson (capt), Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Foster, Richards, Taylor;

Furnell; Byrne, Moran; Milne, Yeats, Leishman;
Callaghan, Hunt, St. John, Melia, A'Court;

Referee:- R.H. Windle, Chesterfield

The Liverpool team at Walsall 1962

Liverpool who were well on their way back to the First Division introduced their new £20,000 signing from Burnley Jim Furnell in goal. Walsall may have had worries about the visitor's star studded forward line but the put up a splendid display and very nearly beat the league leaders. It was in fact Liverpool's first visit to play Walsall since 1893 - things have changed a bit since then!

Furnell was soon in action in the Liverpool goal but was lucky when a goal kick struck Foster and rebounded towards goal, fortunately for him Ron Yeats got back in time to clear. Then the Liverpool keeper saved the day by diving at the feet of Richards before he got a shot away. Walsall's Colin Taylor brought the crowd alight with one of his left foot 'specials' which crashed into the side netting.

Liverpool's quick passing in midfield looked good but they failed to carve out many real opportunities and the Walsall defence looked quite comfortable although Boswell did well to save a header from Roger Hunt following a corner. Furnell made several more good saves before the interval when Walsall had really been the better side. Half time 0-0.

Walsall were again on top for the first ten minutes of the second half with Furnell again called into
action on a regular basis. However in 55 minutes a hotly disputed goal brought a great roar of protest from the crowd. After a corner on the right Boswell was pushed by Melia during a hectic goalmouth
scramble. Walsall appealed strongly for a foul, but A'Court calmly hit the ball into the net through a crowd of players and the referee awarded a goal despite Walsall's protests.

The angry crowd got right behind Walsall as they pressed hard for an equaliser, Richards and Taylor both going close. Ken Hill was having another great game in midfield for the Saddlers as he had all season and the strength of the half back line has been a major plus point. All this pressure eventually
paid off in the 76th minute when Foster passed to Richards who sent over a high cross for Meek who headed it inside to Hodgkisson who scored with a left foot shot from 15 yards.  The crowd went wild and Walsall seemed to scent victory over the league leaders.

Albert McPherson - centre half and another unsung hero of the Walsall success story.

Despite constant pressure Liverpool held on for the draw with Ron Yeats making an important clearance just before the end when Foster's fine pass put Colin Taylor through again. A great performance by the home side against such quality opposition.



WALSALL 3 (Taylor, Richards 2) BURY 0                                Attendance 10,184

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Hill, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Foster, Richards, Taylor;

Harker; Gallagher, Eastham; Turner, Stokoe, May;
Calder, Beaumont, Hickson, Jackson, Hubbard;

Jimmy Dudley, Walsall's left half had a superb game showing all the experience gained while with West Bromwich Albion he dominated the game with his precision passing and often out jumped taller opponents to win the ball in the air. Walsall's defence were rarely troubled and it was full back Sharples, whose constructive clearances have become his trademark, who put Taylor away down the left to score after eleven minutes with a typical left foot hammer blow. Another Taylor effort was pushed over the bar by goalkeeper Harker who was massaging his fingers for some time afterwards.

The other full back, Granville Palin, restored to his normal position was well in control of Bury's left winger Hubbard and had time to race into attack on several occasion making Harker dive full length to save at the foot of a post. Taylor was back to his best on the left wing and his speed off the mark made his goal look off side, at least to the Bury defence, but not to experienced referee Reg Leafe.

Another shot from Taylor brought the second goal. His shot looked to be going wide when Richards appeared to turn it into the net from close range. Richards had got the ball into the net three minutes earlier but the referee ruled he had elbowed a defender off the ball. Half time 2-0.

Alan Boswell, the Walsall keeper punches clear from Dave Hickson with McPherson looking on.

The second half was rather a drab affair, with Walsall satisfied with their two goal lead and Bury were handicapped by the loss of wing half May just ten minutes after the re-start. He was trying to stop George Meek breaking through and unfortunately collided with his own goalkeeper. He was helped off by the two trainers with a knee injury and did not return. Bury's ten men showed little ambition and they may be making a quick return to the Third Division.

The only remaining excitement came ten minutes before the end when another fine clearance from Sharples found Foster, who has now settled into the centre forward role, he in turn passed to Tony Richards who had no problem in scoring with his left foot to put the game well beyond Bury. Meek had his usual lively game on the right wing and inside forward Ken Hodgkisson earned praise from the Birmingham Post's reporter for being to clever for his colleagues, some of his incisive passes catching them unawares!



FOOTBALL LEAGUE 3 (Hunt 2, Haynes) SCOTTISH LEAGUE 4          Attendance 18,429

Springett (Sheffield Wed); Armfield (Blackpool), Wilson (Huddersfield Town); Miller (Burnley),
Swan (Sheffield Wed), Flowers (Wolves); Jackson (WBA), Hunt (Liverpool), Crawford (Ipswich),
Haynes (Fulham), Charlton (Manchester Utd);

Connachan (Dunfermline); Hamilton (Dundee), Caldow (Rangers); Crerand (Celtic), McNeill (Celtic), Fraser (Dundee Utd); Scott (Rangers), Quinn (Motherwell), Millar (Rangers), Brand (Rangers), Wilson (Rangers);

Referee:- C.W. Kingston, Newport                                                                                                                                                                                           

As the above assorted press headlines suggest England's preparations for the forthcoming 1962 World Cup in Chile were thrown into confusion by this splendid display by the Scottish League side in front of a very poor crowd at Villa Park. In view of the talent on view it is hard to see why the Birmingham public stayed away. Man of the match was undoubtedly Dave Wilson the fair haired Rangers left winger with three goals. He was not alone as the standard of football from the Scottish side should the English side in a pretty poor light.

 The Scotsmen soon found weaknesses on England's right flank with newcomers Alec Jackson and Brian Miller looking out of their class. Poor Jimmy Armfield tried manfully to stop the flow of attacks put far too often got little support. The Scottish side took the lead after 29 minutes following Scott's corner on the right. Springett pushed out Quinn's shot but only as far as Brand who fired home. Five minutes later wing half Fraser evaded Ron Flower's challenge and put Wilson away down the left. The winger cut in and beat Springett with a fine shot into the far corner.

The English League side did get back into the game just before half time with a move started by goalkeeper Ron Springett. His throw put Jackson in possession on the right, he pushed it through to Crawford who found Roger Hunt about twenty yards out and he hit a convincing left foot shot into the net. Half time 1-2.

The English side came out with more determination and Flowers and Haynes began to gain control in midfield. Hunt scored another magnificent goal this time with his right foot after Crawford's good work on the left just two minutes into the second half. It looked as though the Football League might take the game when after an hour's play Charlton pushed a short free kick to the onrushing Haynes, who cleverly flicked the ball home despite goalkeeper Connachan getting a hand to it, to give them the lead.

The lead was short lived as the Scots bounced back almost immediately and in the 62nd minute centre forward Millar, who had appeared to foul Brian Miller, was allowed to play on and put Wilson away yet again to race through and beat Springett with ease to make it 3-3. The game then went through a period of stalemate with few attempts on goal and although the English had been outplayed for much of the game it looked as though they might steal a draw.

It was not to be although the Scots left it late, until the 89th minute to be precise. Centre forward Millar, who had a quiet game against Peter Swan, flicked the ball from the bye line on to Wilson, who hit it with the outside of his right foot into the net for the winning goal and his personal hat-trick.

The jubilant Scots now looked ahead to the full international with England at Hampden Park next month, where it was rumoured they might field a full team of Scottish League players and leave out all the Anglo-Scots they have relied on for so long.

(In fact only three of tonight's Scottish team played at Hampden and Anglo-Scots Bill Brown, Dennis Law, Ian St.John and John White all played. England fielded seven of tonight's team and still lost 2-0).



WALSALL 3 (Taylor, Allen og, Hill) STOKE CITY 1 (Nibloe)               Attendance 16, 570

Boswell; Palin, Sharples; Hill, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Hodgkisson, Wilson, Richards, Taylor;

O'Neill; Asprey, Allen; Howitt, Andrew, Skeels;
Matthews, Thompson, Nibloe, Viollet, Ratcliffe;

Referee:- J.A. Cattlin, Rochdale

Star attraction for tonight's 'pay day' match was the old maestro Stanley Matthews still out there on the right wing at the age of 47 for his home town club of Stoke City. Most of those present must have thought this would be the last time they would see him in action. Sadly he was rarely in the game and despite making some neat passes he struck a somewhat lonely figure padding up and down the right wing.

Walsall struck early in the third minute of the game deft passing from Palin, Wilson and Richards set up left winger Colin Taylor with the opportunity to score by smashing home a swerving shot. The goalkeeper O'Neill dived too late and the ball was in the back of the net. In the fifteenth minute Walsall went further ahead when left back Allen under pressure from Tommy Wilson deflected the ball into his own net after Hodgkisson lobbed it into the penalty area.

Walsall were completely in control by this stage and Wilson missed a simple chance with only the goalkeeper to beat. In the 34th minute Ken Hill scored his first goal of the season for the Saddlers and what a goal it was. A corner on the left came to him and he let fly with a 35 yard right foot shot which sped into the far corner of the net.

Stoke sneaked a surprise goal just before half time when Nibloe, who looked offside, gave Boswell no chance with a low shot from just inside the penalty area following a free kick awarded for a foul on Matthews. Half time 3-1.

After the interval Matthews tried hard to get Stoke's forwards into action with some pinpoint passes, but his forward colleagues could not find a breakthrough against the powerful Walsall defence. Dennis Violett, the former Mancheste United star, was a shadow of his former self. Walsall could not match their first half performance but still managed to dominate the game and O'Neill was bombarded from all angles. Another Taylor piledriver had him scrambling on his knees to save at the second attempt..

No further goals then but a series of near misses from Hodgkisson, Meek and Taylor who all went close. Stoke were very lucky to escape without a much heavier defeat.