Walsall sealed their place at Wembley Stadium for the first time in their 127-year history by beating Preston North End 2-0 over two legs in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area Final.The Saddlers led 2-0 from the first leg at Deepdale so knew they only needed to avoid defeat to make history in the second encounter in the West Midlands.
And, in front of over 10,000 supporters, they booked their place at the national stadium for the first time, although it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake crashed an effort against the bar for North End, while Saddlers stopper Richard O’Donnell made a number of saves to keep the Lilywhites at bay. Home defender Paul Downing also cleared the ball off the line in the closing stages.
Walsall could have extended their aggregate lead just after the interval, through Anthony Forde and Romaine Sawyers, but it was the impressive defensive display that ensured the Saddlers secured their place at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final on 22nd March, when they’ll face either Bristol City or Gillingham.
WEMBLEY WAIT: Walsall have experienced some national stadium near-misses in their 127-year history