Walsall Web Fans looks back on a highly entertaining game between Walsall and Chesterfield from the early 80′s which produced seven goals and a vital win for The Saddlers if they were to have a chance of escaping relegation in their first season back in the Third Division. The game featured here was from March 28th, 1981. Walsall had failed to win in their last six games and lost their previous home game 0-3 to Oxford United and were in the lower reaches of the table whereas Chesterfield were doing well in the top half.
The visitors leading goalscorer was former Walsall favourite Alan Birch and Saddlers fans wished they still had the player on board. Player-manager Alan Buckley had done his homework on the visitors and had planned his tactics carefully and worked on them with his players in the days leading up to this game. He had watched The Spirites in a midweek Anglo-Scottish game and concentrated his match preparation on the exploitation of defensive weaknesses he had noticed in their side.
Speedy winger Mark Rees got Walsall off to an excellent start, netting in the first minute. Big Ernie Moss pulled a goal back for Chesterfield before that man Rees struck again and fired Walsall into a 2-1 half time lead. Midway through the second half Richard O’Kelly made it 3-1 to the home side to give Saddlers a little breathing space. Moss grabbed Chesterfield a second goal before Peter Hart restored Walsall’s two goal cushion before Moss completed his hat trick. Walsall held out however and won the game 4-3 which provided great entertainment for the 4,044 fans present at Fellows Park that afternoon.
Alan Birch said to the press about his old team’s plight, “If they play like that till the end of the season they’ll get out of trouble. But Walsall have always seemed to rise to the occasion against better teams. They are going to have to approach every game now in the same way as they did today.” Walsall had been unsuccesful the week before in trying to sign Eire international striker Don Givens from Birmingham City who decided to join Sheffield United instead. Alan Buckley said of missing out on his player, “Obviously, we would have liked to strengthen but it was not to be. If individuals in the team play to their capabilities then the players are already here to get us out of our present dilema.” Buckley had been without the services of Ian Paul since December and a couple of weeks after this game the youngster had to retire from professional football on specialist’s advice.
The Walsall starting line up that day was…
Ron Green, Tony Macken, Kenny Mower, Colin Harrison, Steve Baines, Peter Hart, Mark Rees, Brian Caswell, Richard O’Kelly, Don Penn, Paul Waddington.