Walsall Web Fans looks back at a Third Division game between Notts County and Walsall on November 8th 1986 at Meadow Lane. Following a terrible start to the season Walsall went into this game unbeaten in four games. Tommy Coakley was happy to field an unchanged side. Walsall included former Notts favourite Trevor Christie in attack whilst County included two men who were later to have spells with The Saddlers, Ian Mc Parland and Mark Goodwin. Walsall started off quite brightly and made most of the early running. David Kelly opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Home defender Benjamin made a right hash of an intended back pass and ‘Ned’ darted in to notch his 12th goal of the season. Both sides finished the half in positive style and Gary Childs scoped one over the bar whilst Goodwin had a great chance to draw his side level but his shot was too weak to cause Fred Barber any trouble
It didn’t take Notts long to get on level terms after the restart. Ian Mc Parland took advantage of the Saddlers defence getting in a tangle to fire home There was a nasty incident in the 50th minute when popular Walsall defender Kenny Mower, who was making his 300th appearance, was stretchered off with ankle ligament damage thanks to a wild tackle by David Thompson. Mower was replaced a few minutes later by Willie Naughton but the Walsall players were so incensed by the tackle they lost their discipline. Within minutes Craig Shakespeare and Naughton had their names taken for ‘revenge’ tackles on Thompson and Nicky Cross and David Kelly were booked for fouls on other County players. Thompson was substituted by manager Jimmy Sirrel in a diplomatic gesture more than anything else.
Walsall, who’s defence were never the same after Mower’s departure, never looked confident in that second half and on 76 minutes were caught out by Kevan’s centre which was put away by Clarke. So the Saddlers supporters- a very healthy 2,500 of them- went home bitterly disappointed after seeing their team throw away the lead but like Tommy Coakley were seething the way the referee let Thompson off for such a nasty foul. The Saddlers manager didn’t hold back when he said to the press after the game, “Thompson’s tackle was diabolical and yet he wasn’t even booked. He got away with murder.I was disgusted with the officials.I don’t normally have a go at referees but I shall be reporting this one. It was the weakest handling of a game I have ever seen.”
The starting line ups that afternoon were…
NOTTS COUNTY – Crichton, Smalley, Davis, Thompson, Yates, Benjamin, Mc Parland, Goodwin, Young, Kevan, Clarke.
WALSALL – Barber, Dornan, Mower, Shakespeare, Forbes, Hart, Childs, Cross, Kelly, Christie, Train.