Football: Rammell stoops to conquer

Walsall 1 Rammell 41 Stoke City 0 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 9,056

IT WAS a day for the Sadlers to ride high, as a record league crowd at the Bescot Stadium saw Walsall go above their Midlands rivals in the Second Division promotion race. A highly-charged affair was settled by a spectacular diving header from Andy Rammell after 41 minutes, but the intensity of the contest rarely flagged before or after that decider.

Stoke, top of the table at kick-off, had the better of the early exchanges, but lost some of their attacking impetus when Kyle Lightbourne was forced off by a recurrence of flu after 20 minutes. Soon after that, Rammell, leading the attacking line with great vigour, could have put Walsall ahead, as he hit the top of the bar with a dipping volley from outside the area.

But there was no escape for Stoke when he struck minutes before half time. It was predictable that the telling move would come down the Walsall left, where the experienced pairing of Neil Pointon and Paul Simpson were posing all sorts of problems, and it was Pointon's clever touch and acceleration away from his opposite number, Kevin Keen, that produced the cross met so decisively by Rammell.

That goal put Walsall on top of the table at half time, a position that was ultimately denied to them by Fulham's late winner at Preston. But, on this showing, promotion rivals would be unwise to regard them as a little too humble and fashionable to go up.

They had their shaky moments in the second half, when the initiative seemed to be slipping away, but sheer hard work and enthusiasm saw them make the better chances, with Argentinian Walter Otta twice going close to putting it beyond doubt.

"It would have been nice to be top of the table, but it was still a fabulous, fabulous effort from the players," said Ray Graydon, a latecomer to management in his fifties, but one who is rapidly establishing his credentials.

Brian Little, Graydon's Stoke counterpart, acknowledged his old Aston Villa team-mate's influence, saying: "You can see it as soon as you play them. They are very well organised and they given nothing away. I'm disappointed, but it is the first real setback we've had this season. The test now is how we react."

Little had a warning for any promotion aspirants who imagine Walsall are in a false position. "They are where they are on merit," he insisted. "I'd be a fool to say they couldn't go up.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower