Walsall Ladies suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season last Sunday losing 4-2 away to Sutton Rangers.
The Saddlers and the hosts went into the game having played each other the previous week at Dales Lane, with Sutton coming out on top with a 2-5 victory. This defeat ended the Saddlers’ run of five consecutive wins on the bounce and helped Sutton gain a 3-point lead at the top of the table coming into the game.
The last encounter between the two sides saw a fast start to proceedings and the latest offered more of the same with the hosts starting the game on the front foot. With virtually the first opportunity of the game, Sutton found a gap in the Saddlers defence and made it 1-0 with a strike which rippled the net and sent the hosts into a very early lead, much to the delight of their supporters.
From the get go it looked like Sutton were on the hunt for a number of goals as minutes after the goal there was an appeal for a penalty. After a neat exchange of passes a ball was scooped over the Saddlers backline to the Sutton striker who went down following a collision in the box, but the referee gave nothing and play continued.
In a bright opening 10 minutes for the hosts the Saddlers then started to create some chances for themselves. Following a scramble in the midfield, the ball fell to Bethany James who drove into space before playing a through ball into the path of Kelly Fowell and with limited options available to her she took aim herself, with the resulting effort creeping just over the bar.
It was more of the same at either end as the first half progressed as chances for both sides came and went, with the hosts taking aim following a neat exchange from a throw-in which sailed past the post in the 13th minute. Shortly after and it was the Saddlers testing their luck with Fowell once again at the heartbeat of the attack with a through ball which found the striker in space but the angle made it difficult and the resulting effort was saved comfortably by the Sutton keeper.
With the Saddlers searching for a way back into the game, the ball was certainly in their court as more chances came and went, Rachel Watkins hitting the post direct from a corner and Sophie Ball taking aim shortly after but the effort didn’t have any conviction and the Sutton keeper eased the pressure off the hosts.
The Saddlers got their just rewards minutes later as another corner by Watkins found the head of captain Ball who placed her effort into the roof of the net to give the Saddlers an equaliser with 20 minutes gone.
With the scores level it was all to play for and both teams were looking dangerous on the break. The hosts missed a great chance midway through the first half with the Sutton striker firing over from a volley at close range, a massive let off for the Saddlers.
Minutes later, the hosts restored the lead to make it 2-1 with a well taken goal which flew past goalkeeper Olivia Hayward, despite her best efforts and it wasn’t long after this that Sutton managed to score again with 30 minutes on the clock. A free kick on the edge of the box was well saved by Hayward but the rebound fell perfectly to the hosts who smashed the rebound in to hand them a two-goal cushion.
The second half bought much of the same with some early chances flying in, James almost finding a way through but her effort was saved. Shortly after this, Sutton found a way through the Saddlers backline with a perfectly weighted through ball but the resulting shot cannoned off the crossbar and away from danger.
Midway through the half and the woodwork was struck again from the hosts in what was forming into an even end-to-end affair with both sides looking more organised off the ball.
With 10 minutes left, the hosts all but sealed back-to-back wins against the Saddlers as they capitalised on a mistake in the defence and ran clear before calmly dispatching to make it 4-1.
The Ladies did however pull a goal back in the dying embers of the game to make it 4-2 with Louise Delaney scoring with a sublime effort from the right which looped over the keeper into the far corner after some great play.
That was the last of the action as Sutton Rangers recorded a 4-2 victory over the Saddlers to extend their lead at the top of the table.