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17:29 28th April 2012


Lee Novak's second minute opener wasn't enough to get Town back to winning ways on the road at Walsall this afternoon.

The striker opened the scoring with just 1.32 on the clock when Scott Arfield and Kallum Higginbotham linked up in profitable fashion. The Terriers enjoyed much of the running in the first half, but were made to defend hard in the second 45, especially after Belgian Florent Cuverlier levelled matters.

The home side went close on a couple of occasions to taking the lead, but in a game of two halves, a point each was a fair result.

Simon Grayson named four changes to his side for the penultimate game of the regular season at Walsall.

Team Walsall 320

Kallum Higginbotham made an immediate return to the starting line-up following his recall from his loan at Barnsley - he partnered Lee Novak in attack. In midfield Town made three changes; Tommy Miller and Damien Johnson returned from injury while Danny Ward replaced Gary Roberts on the left of midfield.

GOAL - The Terriers hit the ground running at the Banks's Stadium and it was the recently recalled Kallum Higginbotham who had a major role to play in Lee Novak's second minute opener. The former Falkirk man chested down Peter Clarke's precise long ball into the path of Scott Arfield who neatly lobbed the ball over to Novak and, after a good first touch, he slid the ball with his left past James Walker.

Lee Novak celebrate 320

Walsall, who with a win would virtually secure their survival in League 1, had a couple of earlier sights of goal. Firstly, striker Alex Nicholls did well to get in behind Sean Morrison, but could only fire tamely into the arms of Ian Bennett. The same man was in the action again with eight minutes on the clock when he went down in Town's penalty area under a challenge from Jack Hunt, which the referee deemed not to be a foul.

SUB - The Terriers were forced to make a change with 21 minutes gone when Calum Woods left the field with an injury and was replaced by Tom Clarke.

With half an hour gone Town were looking very lively - especially the recalled pair of Ward and Higginbotham who teamed up to find Scott Arfield in the 32nd minute. The Scotsman collected the ball 12 yards out and curled an effort which took a deflection before skimming Walker's left upright. From the resulting corner the Walsall defence cleared their lines well.

Scott Arfield 320

The home side's biggest threat in Town's 18 yard area was coming from the physical presence of former Terrier Andy Butler. The powerful centre half twice got the better of his marker to win headers from set-pieces as the half drew to a close; his first was straight at Bennett, however, his second beat Town's stopper but flashed agonisingly wide.


SUB - Simon Grayson made a change during the half time interval bringing on Gary Roberts for Danny Ward.

Town started the second 45 in a similar vein to the way they started the first and went close to testing the home side's 'keeper when Gary Roberts intercepted a wayward pass and released Higginbotham. The attacking midfielder took a neat touch and let fly with his left foot but saw his shot superbly blocked by the covering Mat Sadler.

GOAL - Despite Town's good start to the half, Walsall scored with their first meaningful attack when Sadler's left wing cross fell for Florent Cuvelier who smashed the ball precisely past a full stretch Ian Bennett. The striker, on loan from Stoke, did superbly to go past two Town defenders on the edge of the box before striking with his left foot across goal and into the bottom corner.

SUB - Town were again forced into a change when Damien Johnson took a knock in a heavy collision. The midfield walked off the pitch, but was replaced as a precaution by Oscar Gobern in the 63rd minute.

Kallum Higginbotham 320

Walsall oozed confidence after their equaliser and had Town well and truly on the back foot. In the 68th minute, following another spell of intense pressure, towering centre back Olly Lancashire met Emmanuel Ledesma's corner with a near post run, but directed his header an inch wide of Benno's right upright.

SUB - Just after Town saw another counter attack end in nothing with Scott Arfield, Dean Smith made his first change with veteran Jon Macken leaving the field for Will Grigg in the 78th minute.

Town managed to get a hold of the game with then minutes remaining and caused chaos in the Saddlers box when Robbo's corner wasn't cleared - sadly Gobern couldn't turn the ball home. At the other end Nicholls went close when he powered past Peter Clarke and rifled an effort wide of Benno's goal.

Walsall pressed late on for a winner and Town had Ian Bennett to thank in the fourth minute of injury time when he bravely dived at the feet of Ledesma to deny the striker a shot on goal.


Town's team (4-4-2):

Ian Bennett; Calum Woods (Tom Clarke 21), Peter Clarke (c), Sean Morrison, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Gary Roberts 45), Tommy Miller, Damien Johnson (Oscar Gobern 63), Scott Arfield; Kallum Higginbotham, Lee Novak

Unused substitutes:

Alex Smithies, Jordan Rhodes

Attendance: 4,646

Away: 497

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.