Walsall clinch play-off place with nervy win over Shrewsbury
Walsall clinched a Sky Bet League One play-off place to delay Wigan’s promotion party with a nervy win over Shrewsbury.
The Saddlers booked a top-six spot after Kieron Morris and Rico Henry sealed a 2-1 home victory to keep them in the hunt for an automatic promotion slot.
Former Walsall defender Mat Sadler pulled a goal back in the second half but Walsall kept alive their hopes of a return to the Championship for the first time in 12 years.
Jon Whitney’s side moved into third, three points behind second placed Burton with two games left and host relegation-threatened Fleetwood on Monday.
A draw would have seen leaders Wigan up but they must wait until Saturday’s trip to Blackpool to win promotion.
Defeat left Shrewsbury still waiting on survival with Micky Mellon’s side four points above the relegation zone with two games left.
A steady start saw Tom Bradshaw and Milan Lalkovic fire off target before the Saddlers went ahead when Morris drilled into the bottom corner from 20 yards after just 11 minutes.
The hosts remained on top without threatening to double their lead while Shrewsbury struggled to break down an organised home defence.
But a frantic and scrappy half was suddenly brought to life by Henry when he put the Saddlers 2-0 ahead a minute before the break.
The wideman collected the ball on the touchline and rode three challenges before darting in the area and seeing his drive deflect past Jayson Leutwiler.
Walsall remained on top after the interval but were caught cold on the hour when Town pulled a goal back.
The hosts failed to clear and, when Andy Mangan crossed, Sadler powered in a far-post header for just his second goal in two-and-a-half years.
Buoyed, Shrewsbury pressed and Neil Etheridge saved Mangan’s drive with Walsall on the defensive for the first time.
Ian Black’s deflected effort then hit the top of the Saddlers’ bar with 19 minutes left. The hosts were rocked and struggled to get out of their own half.
But Walsall held on and need Gillingham to beat Burton on Saturday to give them a chance to move into the top two on Bank Holiday Monday.