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Walsall's Wembley near-misses

28 January 2015

Walsall ended their 127-year wait for a Wembley appearance by booking their place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final, but they've had some very near-misses before.

Which Football League clubs are yet to play at Wembley Stadium? 

Accrington Stanley, Crawley Town, Hartlepool United and Walsall.

However, after 22nd March, the Saddlers' name will be removed from that list as Dean Smith's side secured their place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End in the Northern Area Final.

They've come close in their 127-year history, so we thought we'd take a look at their national stadium near-misses.

1984 - League Cup Semi-Final

Walsall held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at Anfield in the first leg of their 1984 League Cup Semi-Final and would have been hopeful of a Wembley appearance with home advantage in the reverse encounter.

However, the Reds ran out 2-0 victors in the West Midlands in mid-February of 1984 to secure their place in the Final, which they won in a 1-0 replay against fierce rivals Everton with Graeme Souness scoring the crucial goal.

1993 – Division Three Play-Off Semi-Final

Walsall finished the 1992/93 campaign fifth in Division Three, thus qualifying for the end-of-season Play-Offs.

They faced Crewe Alexandra over two legs in the Semi-Final but were convincingly beaten; 5-1 in the first leg, 4-2 in the second leg and 9-3 on aggregate.

1998 – Football League Trophy Southern Area Final

The Saddlers reached the Southern Area Final of the Football League Trophy in 1998 to face Bournemouth but, despite winning the second leg 3-2 at Dean Court, they bowed out having suffered a 2-0 reverse in the first encounter at home.

1999 – Football League Trophy Southern Area Final

It was the same story a year later when Walsall fell at the final hurdle, this time to Millwall.

The Lions were 1-0 winners at The Den in the opening match with a goal from Tim Cahill, and they stretched their lead in the first half of the second leg through Richard Sadlier. Sigurdur Ragnar Eyjolfsson pulled a goal back for the Saddlers but it wasn't enough and their Wembley wait continued.

2001 – Second Division Play-Off Final

Walsall came fourth in the 2000/01 Second Division campaign and beat Stoke City over two legs in the Semi-Final to book their place in the Final against Reading.

However, with Wembley Stadium under construction, the Saddlers took on the Royals at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in front of over 50,000 people, triumphing 3-2 after extra-time.

2015 – Walsall are Wembley-bound!

REVIEW: Read how the Salddlers secured their place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Wembley

Those near-misses can now be forgotten though, as 2015 is the year that Walsall booked their place at the home of English football, and took their name off the answer to that aforementioned Football League trivia question.

It's taken them 127 years to achieve it, but Walsall are Wembley-bound.

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