Saturday, 10 September 2016

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MATCH REPORT | Northampton Town 2 Walsall 0

5:12 pm Saturday, 10 September 2016
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled to Sixfields Stadium where they took on Northampton Town in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report is below.
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled to Sixfields Stadium where they took on Northampton Town in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report is below.

Northampton Town started the game brightly, seeing their first chance within forty seconds of kick-off, as a flick on from Alex Revell found Harry Beautyman who picked out Kenji Gorre on the corner of the box. Lovely teamwork from the hosts, but luckily for the Saddlers, Gorre's effort on goal sailed over the bar without troubling Neil Etheridge.

Three minutes in, Walsall won the first corner of the match courtesy of Zander Diamond. Erhun Oztumer fired a low ball in which found Kieron Morris, who turned a scuffed shot goal-wards, but Northampton captain David Buchanan was well placed and cleared the danger for his team.

The hosts had another chance in the sixth minute as Brendan Moloney picked out Paul Anderson with his throw-in, allowing Anderson to get the ball into the box where it was picked up by Revell whose headed effort was off target.

The pace quietened for a while as both teams sought to build from midfield. It wasn't until the thirteenth minute that we saw another effort, as a lovely touch from Amadou Bakayoko brought down a pass from Scott Laird before firing over from twenty yards. Moments later, Bakayoko created another chance as he found his way passed Moloney and into the area, where he sent a low shot in which was turned wide of the post by Adam Smith in the Northampton goal. The resulting corner came to nothing.

The hosts regained possession breifly after a good spell from the Saddlers, and worked the ball up to the other end, where a flick on from Gorre set up Buchanan, whose dangerous cross was cleared behind for a corner. Matty Taylor turned a cross in, but Etheridge was able to claim.

Twenty minutes in, the Saddlers created another good chance, as Bakayoko and Oztumer combined well, allowing Oztumer to get a shot in. Unfortunately for the Saddlers, his effort sailed well over the bar. Four minutes later, back at the other end, Northampton were able to break the deadlock as a deep cross from Beautyman was headed home by an unmarked Matty Taylor.

It wasn't long before the hosts had a chance to extend their lead, as four minutes after Taylor's goal, Beautyman flashed a shot across the face of goal from a few yards out. His effort was deflected out for a corner by Jason McCarthy, which the Saddlers were able to clear, before breaking with the ball. Morris almost picked out Bakayoko as Walsall worked the ball back to the other end, but a good block from Jak McCourt brought the attack to a halt.

Ten minutes before the break, Northampton had another chance to extend their lead as a low cross from Moloney was picked up by Gorre twelve yards from goal. Gorre's effort was a tame one and made for an easy save for Etheridge, who held the ball well. The Saddlers wasted little time in getting the ball back up to the other end, where Morris found himself in shooting range on the edge of the area, following some good combination play with Oztumer. Unfortunately for the visitors, Kieron's effort from twenty yards was dragged just wide of the post.

As we reached the forty five minute mark, the Saddlers enjoyed one last chance to go in level at the break, as Oztumer lifted the ball over the defence, picking out Laird who side-footed an effort wide of the far post. The Saddlers agonisingly close to finding a late equaliser, but they left the field at the break trailing by one-goal-to-nil.


The teams emerged unchanged after the break, where an early clash of knees looked to have hurt Bachanan, but he was able to continue after a moments recovery.

The hosts dominated the early stages of the half, and four minutes after the re-start, they almost doubled their advantage as Revell got on the end of a lovely Anderson cross, before turning a header goal-wards. Etheridge just managed to tip the ball behind, at full stretch to keep his team just the one goal behind.

Etheridge was called into action again moments later, as a foul on Beautyman, some thirty yards from goal, set up Taylor whose shot was tipped behind for a corner by the Walsall 'keeper. Taylor fired another shot in from twelve yards, from the flag-kick, which Etheridge was able to hold to momentarily halt the pressure from the home team.

After a quiet start to the half, the Saddlers began to get more involved in the game as Kouhyar twisted his way into the box before unleashing a shot on goal, which was deflected wide by Moloney. Oztumer took the restulting corner, but Taylor was first to the ball and cleared the ball out for a throw.

With fifty seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers made their first change of the afternoon as Maz Kouhyar made way for Franck Moussa. The hosts also took the opportunity to make a change to their ranks, as Gorre made way for Alfie Potter. Four minutes after the initial changes, Northampton made their second substitution as Sam Hoskins replaced Anderson.

With little real action from either side in the intervening five minutes, Walsall made their second change of the afternoon in the sixty sixth minute as they changed to four-four-two formation, with Liam Kinsella making way for Simeon Jackson.

There was very little real attacking threat from either side as the half progressed, with neither side able to build much between pauses as substitutions were made. Two minutes after the Saddlers second change of the afternoon, the Cobblers made their final change, with John-Joe O'Toole taking the place of Beautyman.

With fifteen minutes still to play, it looked as though the hosts would extend their lead as Potter appeared to be headed through on goal, but a crucial sliding tackle from Joe Edwards did just enough to prevent the shot. Moments later, it was Etheridge who kept his sides deficit to one goal, as he pulled off an excellent finger-tip save to prevent a powerful strike from Revell finding the mark.

Unfortunately for the Saddlers, mere moments after Etheridge's fine save, Northampton were awarded a penalty as McCarthy handled in the box. Revell stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent the ball straight down the middle, doubling his sides advantage with just twelve minutes of the game remaining.

Walsall responded quickly, as Oztumer and Morris combined well to take their team back up to the other end, before Edwards blazed the ball high over the bar. That was the last action for Morris, as the Walsall bench opted to make their final change of the afternoon, replacing Morris with Andreas Makris.

The final ten minutes of the game were a drab affair, with neither side really creating any noteworthy chances, the Saddlers unable to find a shot on target throughout the second half, and the same was almost true of the five additional minutes, with Joe Edwards' long-distance effort not really troubling the 'keeper.

Time was called with Cobblers taking all three points. Another disappointing afternoon for the Saddlers, who return to action on Tuesday evening with a must-win trip away to Bristol Rovers.

GOALS | Taylor (23'), Revell (PEN 78')
ATTENDANCE | 5,538 (601 Walsall)
REFEREE | Gavin Ward | (Surrey)

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