MATCH REPORT | Gillingham 1 Walsall 2 MATCH REPORT | Gillingham 1 Walsall 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter

MATCH REPORT | Gillingham 1 Walsall 2

On Tuesday evening, Walsall travelled to Priestfield Stadium to take on Gillingham in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. You can read our match report below.
On Tuesday evening, Walsall travelled to Priestfield Stadium to take on Gillingham in the latest Sky Bet League 1 fixture of the season. You can read our match report below.

Gillingham got the game under way with Walsall shooting towards the Brian Moore Stand and the hosts shooting towards the Rainham End.

Within two minutes of kick-off, Walsall had forced the first corner of the game, which was taken by Anthony Forde, his cross was easily cleared and the Gills broke with the ball. Rico Henry was alert to the counter and stopped Garmston in his tracks.

It didn't take long for Gillingham to earn a corner of their own. Croft took the flag-kick and picked out Oshilaja, who headed the ball goal-wards. Neil Etheridge was alert to tip the ball over the bar, earning the Gills a second corner. Dack took the second corner, Etheridge able to get a fist to the ball to clear the danger.

After a fast paced opening ten minutes, the Gills had another half chance as Jackson crossed the ball into the box, finding Dack who sent it wide of the post under pressure from the Saddlers defence.

The match was a competitive affair, with strong tackles coming in from both sides. Nothing worthy of a booking, but Dack received a talking to from the referee, before winning his side a free-kick, drawing a foul from Chambers. The free-kick found Ehmer at the back post, but the Walsall defence stood firm to clear the danger.

With seventeen minutes played, Walsall saw their first real effort on goal, a long-range shot from Sam Mantom, beaten away by Nelson. Moments later, Mantom had another shot at goal from distance, this time sending the ball sailing over the bar.

Gillingham were quick to get the ball back up to the other end, where Norris won them a corner. Crofts took the flag-kick, a relatively poor effort, but the partially cleared ball fell to Dack whose goal-bound shot was parried wide by Etheridge. The resulting corner was again taken by Crofts with Dack, Norris and McDonald all in good position to connect with his cross, luckily for the Saddlers the ball evaded them all.

The match was a very open affair, but with no end result for either team as we approached the twenty five minute mark. That looked like it was about to change as another dangerous Gillingham cross made it's way into the box and Downing was adjudged to have made contact with the ball with his trailing arm, and a penalty was awarded.

Norris stepped up to take the spot-kick. His powerful shot was low and aimed for the corner, but Etheridge got down well to his right to keep the ball out and the score remained level.

Shortly before the half hour mark, Walsall won a free-kick in a dangerous, central position, twenty yards from goal, as Lalkovic forced a tackle from Dack. Milan's sweetly struck free-kick hit the woodwork and went out for a goal kick. Within a few minutes, Gillingham won a free-kick of their own as Dack was felled just outside the box. His curling free-kick sailed harmlessly over the bar.

The final fifteen minutes of the half were somewhat of a tactical affair, with both teams looking to keep possession in midfield. Both sides saw plenty of the ball but there was little pressing play from either.

Three minutes before half-time there was a brief stoppage in play as Jackson went down. Walsall initially looked to continue, but when Forde headed the ball wide from a good cross, a natural break in play allowed for a short break before Jackson got back to his feet and the game continued.

One minute of additional time was awarded, but the scores remained level as the teams and supporters went in search of half time refreshments.


The teams remained unchanged as the Saddlers got us back under way for the second half. Within moments of kick-off Jordy Hiwula had a chance to give Walsall the lead, finding himself in possession inside the Gills box from a lovely pass from Sawyers, but he miscued his effort and Gillingham cleared.

It didn't take long for Gillingham to have a chance of their own, as they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box when Dack was on the receiving end of a Chambers challenge, which saw the Saddlers skipper added to the referee's book. Dack took the free-kick, but failed to hit the target, sending the ball sailing high over the bar.

Five minutes into the half, Walsall won a corner, which Forde took. Garmston blocked the initial effort, gifting the Saddlers a second corner, which was also taken by Forde but which was a poor effort and easily cleared by Ehmer.

Ten minutes into the half, the hosts were forced to make their first change of the evening as Adam El-Abd picked up a knock. He limped off and was replaced by John Egan.

An hour in, Gillingham went close as Croft spotted Etheridge off his line and sent in an ambitious shot from thirty five yards out, but luckily for the Saddlers, the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar. Moments later they went close again, as McDonald looked to take advantage of a defensive mix-up, as Pennington's back header didn't  quite reach it's intended target but Etheridge was alert and cleared the danger.

Walsall looked to break quickly as they regained possession and won a free-kick thirty yards from goal as Wright brought down Sawyers. Lalkovic took the free-kick but it was a tame effort and easily caught by Nelson.

The Saddlers wasted little time before attacking again, some lovely teamwork seeing Pennington and Lalkovic combine to tee up Sawyers who played Forde in. His shot was blocked by Ehmer, but almost trickled goal-wards. Much brighter play from the men in red.

With sixty seven minutes on the clock, the Gills made their second change of the evening, with Jake Hessenthaler replacing Deji Oshilaja. A change in formation from the home team as they looked to deal with attacking threat of the visitors.

Seconds after the change, the Saddlers opened the scoring. A neat finish from Lalkovic, who picked up a loose Dack pass before curling the ball into the far corner.

With an advantage secured, and twenty minutes to play, the Saddlers made their first change of the night,  Anthony Forde being replaced by Kieron Morris.

Fifteen minutes from time, the Gills came close to finding an equaliser, as McDonald fired a shot just over the bar from twenty five yards out. Followed moments later by a low shot from Norris, which was blocked by Mantom, allowing Walsall to break. Sawyers played a superb through ball to Hiwula, who calmly fired a low shot past Nelson to double the Saddlers lead.

Two minutes later, the Saddlers went close to finding a third, but a firm save from Stuart Nelson kept Morris's pacy shot out and the home team just two goals behind.

Ten minutes from time, Gillingham made their final change, bringing on the fresh legs of Brennan Dickenson in place of Bradley Dack. A few minutes later, the Saddlers made a change of their own replacing Milan Lalkovic with Jordan Cook.

The final few minutes of the half saw little in the way of attacking threat as the Saddlers were content to keep possession in midfield and protect their lead and the Gills seemed to struggle to get the ball forward.

As five additional minutes were added, Walsall made their final change of the night, as Romaine Sawyers was replaced by Reece Flanagan.

Four minutes into injury time, the Gills won a free-kick thirty yards from goal. Dickenson sent a curling delivery in, which Etheridge punched clear. Jackson took the resulting throw-in, which fell to Norris who attempted an outrageous overhead bicycle kick which found the back of the net.

Luckily for the Saddlers, the Gills goal came too late for them to capitalise on, and Walsall headed back to the Midlands with all three points.

GOALS | Norris (90+5') - Lalkovic (68'), Hiwula (77')
ATTENDANCE | 6,246 (204 Walsall)
REFEREE | Mr. Stuart Attwell | Nuneaton
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