Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Checkatrade Trophy

Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Area Final preview

26 January 2015

We look ahead to the Northern Area Final second leg between Walsall and Preston North End.

Walsall are on the verge of a first-ever appearance at Wembley Stadium ahead of the second leg of their Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Area Final against Preston North End.

The Saddlers scored two late goals in the reverse leg through Anthony Forde and Tom Bradshaw, and that has given them a healthy advantage to take into Tuesday's tie at Banks's Stadium.

If they can see it through they will book a place at the home of English football for the first time in their 127-year history, with the winner facing either Bristol City or Gillingham, who play their second leg on Thursday.

Preston will be no pushovers, though. They had their chances in the first encounter – Jermaine Beckford was twice denied from point-blank range – and they sit 14 points ahead of Walsall in the Sky Bet League 1 standings.

The Lilywhites are also on better form having suffered only two defeats in their last 15 outings in all competitions. The Saddlers, meanwhile, have lost their last three home games, conceding 10 goals, but they've notched three straight away wins.

One of four: Hartlepool United, Accrington Stanley and Crawley Town are the other three Football League teams never to have appeared at Wembley Stadium.


Walsall haven't played since 17th January when they triumphed 2-0 at Colchester United in a Sky Bet League 1 match.

Their opponent's Preston have played twice since then, sharing the spoils with Yeovil in League 1 on 20th January before drawing 1-1 with Sheffield United in the FA Cup last Saturday.


Preston winger Chris Humphrey is relishing the second leg against Walsall as it'll see him return to his hometown club.

The 27-year-old has had to get 20 tickets for various friends and family and he's excited to return to the club he used to visit as a youngster, watching Football League games.

He told Preston's official website: "I'm very excited for tomorrow. If selected for the game, even if not you come off the bench and do your part, so I'm really looking forward to it tomorrow and I can't wait.

"When I was a kid I used to go to Walsall games and when they used to sell out in the Championship and if the opposition score it can be the quietest place in the world. Yes they can sell-out, yes they can have all their fans but if we score early then what? We will be hearing our fans and I'm sure we'll be hearing them throughout the whole game whether it's a sell-out or not because the away support is fantastic.

"All I had after the first game was phone calls and voicemails singing 'we're going to Wembley' and this is what their mentality is, especially my friends, they think that they're there already and for me I love that because the fact is if we score early and we can pull it off I will have the last laugh and that's the aim.

"We go there, we have nothing to lose, we are just going to go there and try and win the game, I really think that if we turn up and we play our best football we will win the game.”


Walsall's 34-year-old Chambers twins, Adam and James, are key players in the Saddlers' team and manager Dean Smith has highlighted them as vital to countering North End's threats.

James has previously featured in the League Cup Semi-Finals with Watford and was also promoted to the Premier League with the Hornets, beating Leeds United in the Play-Off Final.

Like his club, brother Adam is yet to play Wembley and boss Smith believes it's a great incentive for him.

“Adam and James have seen a lot," Smith told BBC WM in a pre-match press conference.

"James has been promoted in the Play-Offs with Watford to the Premier League and has played in big games.

"Adam is 34 and had a good career in the game and he's yet to play at Wembley, so what a chance for him."


Despite the occasion, Walsall captain Adam Chambers believes it'll be business as usual for the Saddlers in front of over 10,000 supporters in the West Midlands.

He told the club's official website: “We’re confident, as we are with every game we prepare for. Especially off the back of a win against Colchester, which was a decent performance from our point of view.

“We’ve had 10 days to prepare so the lads will be fresh and it’s a game which we will go out and look to win on the night.

“I think it’s the best way to approach it. If we start thinking about sitting back and defending, we’re going to invite unnecessary pressure so we’ve got to attack like any other game.

“Psychologically we may have an edge having beaten them twice already but this is a completely new game. It’s going to throw up totally new scenarios and we need to adapt to the situations of the game.”

Preston North End manager Simon Grayson believes his side can turn around the 2-0 deficit to reach their first ever Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final.

"If you look at an example of us this year, at half-time in the game against Fleetwood we were 2-0 down, get the next goal and go and win the game 3-2,” he told

"We know the significance and the importance of the next goal, if Walsall score the next goal then it's not game over but it makes it very difficult to go and score three goals, but we do believe that even if they score we can still score three goals.

"The one thing about it is that away goals don't count, we have got players that will create chances and players that can score goals as well so we'll go there and give it our best shot.

"The players are not daft, they know they are 90 minutes away from a Wembley appearance and that's what the incentive is for them. We will go there with real genuine belief that we can turn it around.”


We'll be providing live updates from the game via the official Johnstone's Paint Trophy Twitter page - @JP_Trophy. Join in the conversation using #JPT.

Advertisement block