The Saddlers started life at the stadium in the Football League basement under new manager Kenny Hibbitt and the ground did not have long to wait before the goal net was rumbling. Nineteen year-old central defender Matthew Bryant, on loan from Bristol City, had the distinction of scoring the first goal of the 1990/91 season in England, and therefore also forever wrote his name in Walsall FC history becoming the first player to score a competitive goal at the Bescot Stadium, albeit against his new colleagues after just 65 seconds of his Walsall debut against Torquay United.
Matt Elliot put The Gulls 2-0 up on 31 minutes to disappoint many of the 5,219 crowd however Stuart Rimmer became the first Saddler to get on the scoresheet just two minutes later. Hibbitt pulled off a substitution masterstroke by replacing new player-coach Tony Grealish with 19 year-old striker Martin Goldsmith who scored in the 80th minute to earn the team a 2-2 draw.
1991 saw Walsall endure an opening day disaster at Bloomfield Road and ‘The Saddlers’ went down 0-3 to Blackpool with new signings Derek Statham and Mark Gayle having nightmare debuts. Statham was sent off on 38 minutes and Gayle was badly at fault for the second goal. Andy Garner with a brace on 9 and 76 minutes and David Eyres on 60 minutes were on target for the Seasiders.
The opening day fixture of 1992 saw an amazing game at Brunton Park in which Walsall beat Carlisle 4-3 with the unusual sight of a player from each side scoring for and against their teams! (Rod Mc Donald for Walsall and George Oghani for Carlisle). Walsall took the lead as early as the second minute when Oghani sliced the ball over his own keeper. He made amends 9 minutes later to level the score and it was still 1-1 at half time. Wayne Clarke headed Walsall into a 2-1 lead on 51 minutes and Chris Marsh made it 3-1 on 57 minutes. Rod Mc Donald put through his own net on the hour mark but 10 minutes later put his side 4-2 up. Carlisle striker Andy Watson, who joined Walsall a few years later, pulled one back for the home side but Walsall hung on.
In 1993 Walsall fans witnessed a disappointing game at home to Torquay in which their 16 year-old striker David Byng scored two well taken goals before Rod McDonald gave Walsall hope in the 65th minute, however there were no further Walsall goals and this highlighted the need for a new striker with the previous season’s leading marksman Wayne Clarke being allowed to join Shrewsbury just two days before the season started.
Walsall’s 1994 opener was a trip to Fulham. Kyle Lightbourne found the net on 8 minutes and Walsall looked steady before Stuart Watkiss was sent off for two yellow offences by referee Andy D’ Urso who was taking charge of his first ever Football League game. Fulham came more into it in the second half, but had to wait until the 82nd minute to draw level through Kevin Moore.
1995 saw another disappointing result, this time against Stockport County at home with their tall players dominating the aerial battles. Ian Helliwell exploited this with two headers before half time. Walsall couldn’t break down County in the second half and the score remained 0-2.
Rotherham United were the visitors to Bescot in 1996. Shaun Goodwin smashed the ball into the net on 43 minutes as The Millers had the better of the first half. Walsall were the better team after the interval and on 75 minutes Martin Butler rose high to give Saddlers a well-earned share of the points.
Walsall had new manager Jan Sorensen in charge for the 1997 opener at Chesterfield but it turned out to be a nightmare performance by his defenders who gave away three goals cheaply. Willis gave the home side the lead on 8 minutes and a strike from young striker Clive Platt drew Walsall level on 78 minutes but further goals from Perkins just 5 minutes later and Lormor on 85 minutes wrapped up a 3-1 win for Chesterfield.
It was back to winning ways in 1998 with a 1-0 win at the Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham, thanks to an own goal by Carr on 33 minutes.
Walsall were held to a 0-0 draw in 1999 against Swindon Town in their first game in the First Division (The Championship as its now known) and it showed that Walsall needed to be more inventive in front of goal at this level.
Walsall completed a remarkable comeback against Rotherham United on the opening day at Millmoor in 2000. Despite trailing 0-2 thanks to goals from Mark Robins, who had just been released by the club that summer. Walsall came storming back when Brett Angell, making his debut, heading home. Marvin Bryan then put scored an own goal before Angell got his second late on to secure a 3-2 win for his new team.
Near neighbours West Bromwich Albion were visitors to Bescot in 2001. Jorge Leitao gave Walsall a 37th minute lead however Neil Clement pulled one back for The Baggies on 55 minutes. Just 7 minutes later Tony Barras claimed the winner in front of 9,181 fans.
In 2002 Walsall hosted fancied Ipswich Town. The Saddlers held out until the 37th minute when Darren Bent had a shot pushed aside by Jimmy Walker which presented Darren Ambrose with a simple chance of slotting home. The second goal came on 62 minutes when Marcus Bent connected superbly with a overhead kick.
2003 was a special opening day game and thanks to a superb team effort Walsall thumped West Bromwich Albion 4-1 on a hot afternoon at Bescot. Paul Merson stole the show, and the headlines, with two well taken strikes on his debut. Further goals from Jorge Leitao, a tap in, plus a sweetly hit shot from Steve Corica were only answered by a deflected Jason Kumas effort. 11,030 squeezed into the stadium to see the local derby.
Those present at Bescot in 2004 saw quite an explosive game against PortVale. Four were sent off, a player and a member of the bench from each side. Nine bookings and a five-goal thriller to enjoy. A Matt Fryatt penalty on 12 minutes gave Walsall the lead and that remained the half time score. Billy Paynter levelled for Vale on 61 minutes before Ian Roper was sent off 6 minutes later. Manager Paul Merson threw caution to the wind on 70 minutes and introduced youngsters Leroy Williams and Daryl Taylor and the pair scored a goal each with Lee Matthews pulling a goal back in the 90th minute but Walsall hung on to win 3-2. Walsall coach Iffy Onoura and Vale boss Martin Foyle got their marching orders by referee Lee Probert.
In 2005 ‘The Saddlers’ travelled to Rotherham and managed a 2-1 win thanks to a 2nd minute goal by Kris Taylor and a 93rd minute winner from substitute Jorge Leitao to give Walsall the unusual record of scoring both the first and last goals of the day. Ex Saddler Martin Butler got Millers goal on 41 minutes.
New manager Richard Money saw his new side win 1-0 at Rochdale in 2006 when Martin Butler notched the goal in the 48th minute.
Nearly 7,000 were at Bescot in 2007 as an out of sorts Walsall could only draw 1-1 against Carlisle. Kevin Gall fired United ahead on 19 minutes with Tommy Mooney on target for Walsall on 47 minutes.
Saddlers fans who were at Huish Park, Yeovil, in 2008 got soaked to the skin as the heavens opened, in what was Jimmy Mullen’s first game in charge of the club. Yeovil took the lead in the 7th minute through Gavin Tomlin and Walsall had to wait until the 79th minute when Jabo Ibhere saved the game.
2009 saw Walsall travel to the Withdean Stadium, the present home of Brighton And Hove Albion and came away with all three points thanks to Andy Whing’s own goal in the 30th minute.
The 2010/11 season got off to a bad start with a disappointing 1-2 Bescot defeat to Milton Keynes Dons. Sam Baldock gave the visitors a half time lead before a towering header from Manny Smith just after the break got Walsall back on level terms before a Danny Woodards header on the hour mark gave The Saddlers their first opening-day defeat since 2002
Last season Walsall started the season encouragingly with a 1-0 home win against Leyton Orient with debutant captain Adam Chambers scoring a screamer against his former club.
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