Five-star Walsall thrash Port Vale but miss out on automatic promotion
A brilliant performance by Walsall failed to secure automatic promotion - but the Saddlers will go into the Sky Bet League One play-offs in great heart after a thumping 5-0 victory at Port Vale.
A terrific opening spell saw chances at both ends before the visitors took a grip of proceedings with two goals in three minutes.
Walsall right-back Jason Demetriou rattled the crossbar with a 35-yard shot moments before Paul Downing opened the scoring in the 23rd minute.
Vale goalkeeper Jak Alnwick made a fine save from Adam Chambers' strike, but the ball rebounded straight to the onrushing Downing who headed into the centre of a gaping net from 10 yards.
And Alnwick made another excellent stop, this time from Milan Lalkovic, before the ball looped up for Tom Bradshaw to place a neat header inside the Vale keeper's left-hand post for Walsall's second.
Vale tried to respond, but the contest was as good as over in the 38th minute when Anthony Forde added a brilliant third for the visitors.
The home defenders backed off as Forde strode towards goal and they paid the price as the midfielder let fly with a stunning 35-yard right-foot shot which tore into the top left-hand corner of Alnwick's net.
Walsall outclassed bedraggled Vale in the second half and Forde added a fourth in the 67th minute when he seized on a poor pass from Michael O'Connor and placed a right-footed shot from 14 yards inside Alnwick's right-hand post.
And Vale were helpless again four minutes later when substitute Sam Mantom rifled home a venomous shot from 25 yards.
Source : PA