Walsall 0-1 Notts County

Last updated : 31 January 2012 By Jacob Daniel

After a tough week for the club, and a particularly tough week for striker Lee Hughes, it was perhaps fitting that the experienced forward bagged the only goal of the night at Walsall's Bescot Stadium. After six straight away defeats, and just one win in fourteen, in League One, tonight was always going to be about the result and so it proved as Notts were forced to defend deep late on against a hard-working Walsall side lacking in quality.

With Jeff Hughes and Julian Kelly missing out through injury, Jon Harley and Kieron Freeman came into the side, with Alan Sheehan moving into midfield. Ben Burgess also returned upfront and had an impact within the first three minutes, flicking on for Hughes who raced clear and smashed an incisive finish past Jimmy Walker, who was busy breaking the all-time Walsall appearance record. Burgess quickly came close to doubling the lead twice, firstly bending a low shot wide of the post and then forcing a sprawling save from the hosts' experienced 'keeper.

Notts were dominating the first half and really should've extended their lead, with Bishop coming closest having fired wide after being set up by the impressive Freeman. For the hosts, Richard Taundy fired in their first real effort of note, which was comfortably held by Stuart Nelson. With Notts having dominated the first half, Walsall were forced to come out after the break at a higher tempo, which they did, with Alex Nicholls forcing an early save out of Nelson.

Former Notts 'keeper David Grof, who had replaced Walker at half time, had to be alert to deny Hughes doubling his tally, whilst Damion Stewart and Liam Chilvers were imperious at the heart of the Notts defence, standing firm in the face of increased Walsall pressure. Hughes dragged a shot just wide before the hosts had the ball in the net, but Manny Smith's goal was ruled out as Adam Chambers had fouled Nelson. Walsall applied even more pressure during three minutes of injury time, but Notts held firm to record a win that could prove priceless and that moves them back into the top half of the table.