MATCH REPORT | Port Vale 0 Walsall 5 MATCH REPORT | Port Vale 0 Walsall 5
Posted by: Bescot Banter

MATCH REPORT | Port Vale 0 Walsall 5

On Sunday afternoon, Jon Whitney's Walsall took on near-rivals Port Vale in the final Sky Bet League 1 clash of the season. You can read our match report below.
On Sunday afternoon, Jon Whitney's Walsall took on near-rivals Port Vale in the final Sky Bet League 1 clash of the season. You can read our match report below.

Walsall got the biggest game of the season underway and within forty seconds, Adam Chambers set Tom Bradshaw away, with a lovely long pass. The Saddlers striker beat the offside trap but sent the ball over the bar from a tight angle. A positive start from the men in red.

The match settled after the early attack, the Saddlers allowing their hosts to enjoy plenty of the ball. Ten minutes in, Vale looked to be in on goal, but Hooper's first touch was just too strong, allowing Etheridge to gather. Moments later, the Saddlers found themselves in shooting range, Kieron Morris sending a powerful strike in from twenty five yards. A superb move from Alnwick saw the ball pushed wide for a corner, which the Saddlers made little use of.

Vale always looked a danger and with quarter of an hour on the clock, Leitch-Smith, played in by Foley, sent a fierce strike goal-wards, drawing a brilliant save from Neil Etheridge as his near post. Two minutes later, Foley sent a thunderous effort of his own in, drawing another spectacular save from Etheridge, who tipped the ball over.

Vale continued to press, some lovely work from Leitch-Smith to take the ball through the Walsall defence allowing him to get a shot in, which flew inches wide of the post. Keeping up the pressure, Michael O'Connor forced his way into the box, where he sent a cross-shot flashing across the face of goal.

After a quiet spell, the early nerves seemed to ease and the Saddlers began to pressure their hosts. Twenty three minutes in, a Walsall corner, sent in by Morris, almost saw Demetriou open the scoring. His powerful strike from some thirty five yards out, cannoning off the crossbar to deny him. His team-mates did well to keep the play alive, and when the ball fell to James O'Connor he looked likely to score. His low driven shot was parried by Alnwick, allowing Paul Downing to head home, opening the scoring.

Requiring a two goal cushion heading into the match, the Saddlers set out to secure a second. Just five minutes after the first, they found an almost carbon copy second, a fabulous save by Alnwick denying Forde, but Bradshaw was waiting to nod home the rebound. Bradshaw securing his twentieth goal of the campaign, to equal his tally from last season.

Not content with two, the Saddlers continued to pile on the pressure, with Bradshaw sending a right-footed effort wide of the far post minutes before a defensive mix-up between Alnwick and Streete, saw Lalkovic bundled over in the box. The referee deciding not to award a penalty, much to the frustration of the travelling support.

With seven minutes remaining in the half, Walsall found a third; a sublime right-footed strike from Anthony Forde, from thirty yards out, flying into the back of the net.

As we neared the break, Richard Duffy was the first name added to the referee's notebook, as both Lalkovic and Demetriou went close to further extending the Saddlers lead. Alnwick doing well to keep two stunning strikes out, seeing his team trail three-goals-to-nil at the break.


Port Vale made a change at the break, opting to play with four at the back for the second half, introducing Kelly in place of former Saddler Ryan McGivern as they got us back underway.

The second half got off to a fairly quiet start; the first real action of the half two well-timed tackles by Downing inside his own box to deny Vale a shot.

Ten minutes in, Vale made their second change of the afternoon as Streete limped off the pitch, and unable to continue, was replaced by Yates.

The match continued as the second half started, with few chances for either team, though Sam Foley was added to the referee's notebook and, sixty four minutes in, Walsall made their first change of the afternoon as Sam Mantom replaced Kieron Morris.

Sixty three minutes in, Bradshaw looked close to extending his sides lead as he got in behind the Vale defence, but his effort was blocked and the danger cleared. Moments later, at the other end, Foley crossed the ball to Hooper whose powerful header drew a fabulous save from Etheridge.

The Saddlers got their fourth goal of the afternoon, after a defence error allowed Forde to run through on goal, before coolly firing a low shot passed Alnwick. A superb piece of individual skill. Two minutes later, Walsall went close to finding a fifth, denied only by Alnwick who came out well to put in a strong last-ditch tackle.

With twenty minutes to play, Vale made their final change of the afternoon, introducing Moore in place of O'Connor.

Seventy-one minutes in, Walsall put a fifth past Alnwick, who could do little to prevent Mantom's powerful shot from thirty yards out, finding the top corner. Another exceptional piece of individual skill on display.

Four minutes later, a wonderful cross from Forde, out on the right, almost saw Bradshaw add to his season tally. The Saddlers striker sending the ball over the crossbar and Vale almost found a consolation through Kelly, whose shot deflected earning a corner for his team, which Walsall were able to deal with.

With under a quarter of an hour to play, Walsall made their second change of the afternoon as Jordy Hiwula replaced Tom Bradshaw.

There was little real action in the final fifteen minutes of the match, as the Saddlers sat back with a five goal lead, and Vale looking to have little attacking threat.

Six minutes from time, Walsall made their final change of the afternoon, replacing Milan Lalkovic with Jordan Cook, as they ran down the clock and hoped for news of a Doncaster Rovers goal.

Four additional minutes were awarded by the referee, during which we heard news of Burton Albion securing the draw they needed to secure them the second automatic promotion spot. Walsall's five-nil victory over Port Vale securing a third place finish for the Saddlers and a visit to Oakwell next Saturday for the first leg of the Play-Off Semi-Final against Barnsley.

GOALS | Downing (23'), Bradshaw (26'), Forde (38' & 67'), Mantom (71')
ATTENDANCE | 8,595 (3,374 Walsall)
REFEREE | Mr. Nigel Miller | County Durham
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