01 Jan 2009
- Written by Walsall Advertiser
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And perhaps as a timely reminder as we head into dreaded transfer window territory, the big stopper again showed that the Saddlers possess one of the strongest last lines of defence in League One.
It is the hex of every Walsall keeper from now until eternity to live in Jimmy Walker's shadow but Ince has done more than any to establish his own legacy.
From breaking the club record for clean sheets in his debut season to the continued assurance and quality between the sticks last Friday, Ince is very much number one nowadays.
Even this season, injury apart, he has been the one constant in front of a defence that seems to change in personnel every game.
Indeed this was Walsall's first home clean sheet of the season and the finger of blame can certainly not be pointed at Ince for that statistic.
He began his work early against Stockport, confidently fielding a well-struck 16th minute long range effort from Anthony Pilkington but it was his second half display – particularly after Walsall had gone ahead – that drew the plaudits.
Walsall failed to create a first half effort of note but livened up after the break and Ricketts played a great ball through to Jabo Ibehre who looked set to score only to be robbed by a brilliant last ditch tackle from James Tunnicliffe.
Sansara stung the fingertips of County keeper Owain Fon Williams with a stunning strike from all of 40 yards as Walsall enjoyed their first real spell of concerted pressure.
And they fulfilled the old adage that you must always score when on top as Rhys Weston ghosted in to head home a Chris Palmer corner on 63 minutes.
Any hopes of the floodgates opening were ended three minutes later when skipper Ricketts collected his second yellow card of the game for a shin-high lunge on Gary Dicker.
The Ince show had already begun by then – indeed it began seven minutes before Walsall took the lead as the keeper made a point blank stop to foil Dominic Blizzard.
He then saved well down low from Pilkington just outside the box but he kept his best stop until seven minutes from time.
Pilkington was again the man denied as he produced a great turn in the box and picked his spot in the corner only for Ince to push it away and then block the follow-up from Craig Davies.
For once, there was little danger to the Walsall goal in injury time – something Ince would no doubt like to become accustomed to...
Walsall 1 Stockport County 0 (Coca Cola League One)
WALSALL: Ince, Taundry, Gerrard, Weston, Palmer, Nicholls, Bradley (Sansara 25), Mattis, Deeney (Reich 84), Ibehre, Ricketts.
ADVERTISER STAR MAN: Clayton Ince – several crucial saves.