Saturday, 13 August 2016

MATCH REPORT | Oldham Athletic 0 Walsall 0

MATCH REPORT | Oldham Athletic 0 Walsall 0

On Saturday afternoon, Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled North to Greater Manchester and took on bottom-of-the-table Oldham Athletic in the second game of the 2016/17 Sky Bet League One campaign. Our in-depth match report is below.
On Saturday afternoon, Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled North to Greater Manchester and took on bottom-of-the-table Oldham Athletic in the second game of the 2016/17 Sky Bet League One campaign. Our in-depth match report is below.

Walsall's first away day of the season saw them make five changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday's EFL cup defeat to Yeovil, and after a minutes applause in memory of Latics legend Jimmy Frizzell, the Saddlers got the match underway.

Walsall started well and four minutes in, created the first chance of the match. Florent Cuvelier firing a shot in from twenty five yards, which was deflected over the bar and out for a corner, which the Saddlers were unable to make use of. A bright start to the afternoon.

The hosts enjoyed a good spell of possession, which culminated in a lovely left-wing cross into the box from Lee Erwin, which was missed by James O'Connor. Fortunately for the Saddlers, the Latics attack were unable to get on the end of it, and the danger was averted.

With just seven minutes on the clock, there was cause for concern for the Saddlers, as Erhun Oztumer went down and looked to be in some trouble. After a brief stoppage, whilst he received treatment in the centre circle, the game got back underway with Oztumer able to continue.

The hosts began to apply more pressure as they looked to get more into the game. Erwin looked dangerous as he picked his way through the Saddlers defence before sending a lovely through ball to Paul Green, who was flagged offside. Lucky for Walsall, who seemed to have been caught a little off-guard.

The home side continued to press, with Ousmane Fane also finding his way through the Saddlers defences as he sought to looked to force an opening.

With quarter of an hour played, Jamie Reckord almost set Billy McKay through on goal, with a lovely low ball into the box, which was just too strong for McKay to get onto, leaving an easy gather for Neil Etheridge.

The Saddlers began to get back into the game again as we neared the twenty minute mark, some good possession from the visiting team as they patiently built an attack. O'Connor eventually setting up Franck Moussa, with a lovely pass, which the midfielder converted into a shot from distance, which was blocked by Peter Clarke.

With twenty three minutes on the clock, the hosts looked to be in on goal, as Marc Klok delivered a lovely ball into the box which was met by Erwin, who looked to turn his defender. O'Connor was alert for the Saddlers and put in a perfectly timed tackle to prevent the shot.

In the twenty seventh minute, Klok delivered a dangerous free-kick, which looked to have picked out two Oldham players. Rico Henry did well to get his head onto the ball, and turn it away for a corner. He stayed down after appearing to hurt his shoulder on landing, and the Walsall medical team took to the pitch to treat him.

With thirty one minutes on the clock, the Saddlers were forced to make their first change of the afternoon. Mat Preston coming on in place of the injured Henry who was unable to continue and left the field on a stretcher. Hopefully just a procaution, but a concern for Walsall, especially so early in the season.

After the delay to proceedings, the hosts took their corner, with Klok putting in another good delivery. His Latics team-mates just unable to get a head on it to turn it goal-wards.

The Saddlers enjoyed a good spell in attack as we headed rapidly towards the break; Oztumer sending a dangerous looking cross in from the left-wing, which was just too close to Connor Ripley in the Oldham goal.

With five minutes of the half remaining, McKay had the first real shot of the game, as he won the ball on the edge of the box and sent a lovely curling shot looping just over the bar.

The hosts continued to press, with Ryan Flynn putting a lovely ball into the box, which almost fell to Erwin. O'Connor was alert and nodded the ball behind. The resulting corner was taken short but came to nothing as the Saddlers continued to defend well.

As we reached the forty five minute mark, Reckford played a lovely high ball to Erwin, whose headed effort went well wide of goal, without troubling the Walsall 'keeper.

Five minutes were added following the earlier stoppages in play, and with all five almost played, a mix-up between O'Connor and Etheridge almost gifted the hosts a goal. Etheridge just able to clear to spare his blushes, as we reached the break.


Walsall made their second change of the afternoon as the second half got underway, Oztumer the man to make way as Andreas Makris came on.

The second half began quietly as both teams sought to get a foothold in the game. The first real action of the half came ten minutes in, with Moussa firing just wide from outside the box.

Moments later, Osbourne played a lovely ball in to Simeon Jackson, who drew a fabulous save from Ripley, at his near post, keeping the scores level.

Keen to make their dominance pay, Osbourne again got involved to set Jason McCarthy away down the left. McCarthy played a decent low cross into the area, but the Oldham defences were alert and got to the ball ahead of Moussa.

The Saddlers continued to press and Makris almost found a goal with a powerful drive from just inside the box. Ripley did well to keep the ball out. Cuvelier caught the rebound, but couldn't keep his headed effort down. Some excellent play from the Saddlers.

With sixty three minutes on the clock, the Latics made their first change of the afternoon, as Ryan McLaughlin replaced Marc Klok.

Two minutes after the change, Oldham should probably have taken the lead. A lovely cross in, found McKay, but he directed his headed effort straight into the waiting arms of Etheridge.

The Latics began to apply more pressure and McKay was again involved, as he saw a shot deflected over the bar by O'Connor.

With twenty minutes still to play, and the Latics continuing to apply pressure to the Walsall goal, the Saddlers were saved by the post. Etheridge doing well to save the initial effort from Flynn, before Erwin headed the rebound against the upright. A big let off for the Saddlers.

Shortly after, Oldham made their second change of the afternoon, as Fane was replaced by Ollie Banks.

Banks was quick to get involved in the action as he turned a corner in, which fell to Flynn on the edge of the box. Flynn sending the ball well wide.

With ten minutes of the game remaining, Walsall won a free-kick twenty or so yards from goal, as Jackson was brought down. Moussa stepped up to take the kick, but fired into the wall, allowing the hosts to lear the danger.

With eight minutes remaining, Walsall made their third and final change of the game, as Cuvelier made way for Amadou Bakayoko.

A minute after the Walsall change, Oldham made a change of their own, as Erwin was replaced by Darius.

With eighty seven minutes played, Josh Law became the first player added to the referee's notebook, as he was cautioned for a late challenge on the recently introduced Bakayoko.

Shortly after, Osbourne joined Law in the referee's notebook, for a late challenge of his own, on Banks. Oldham awarded a free-kick for the late challenge too, which was taken by Banks and found Osei in the centre. The striker unable to control the ball and the danger averted for the Saddlers.

The hosts won a late corner, as four minutes of additional time were signalled. Banks sent a decent looking cross in towards the back post, picking out McKay, whose shot deflected wide for a goal kick.

With a minute to play, Walsall won a late corner of their own as a Bakayoko cross was headed behind. The corner was cleared by Cameron Burgess and the match ended all-square. No goals and few real chances, a disappointing afternoon, but at least one point for the Saddlers to take home.

REFEREE | David Webb | (Lancashire)

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