MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to Bolton Wanderers in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to Bolton Wanderers in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

The match got off to something of a slow start, the first real action coming almost ten minutes in, when the visiting Bolton Wanderers won a corner, which was swung in towards Neil Etheridge who claimed well. Moments later, the visitors had another chance as a Chris Taylor cross was met by James Henry who couldn't quite direct his headed effort on target.

Thirteen minutes in, Bolton came close to opening the scoring as a pinpoint cross from Taylor picked out Jamie Proctor, who rose high to connect with the ball. Proctors headed effort was just too high and looped up onto the top of the bar. At the other end, the Saddlers looked to create a chance of their own, Andreas Makris unlucky to be beaten to an Erhun Oztumer pass by a Bolton defender.

In just the sixteenth minute, the Saddlers were reduced to ten men, as Chris Taylor and Joe Edwards both rose for the ball and Edwards appeared to connect with his elbow. The referee deeming the offence worthy of a straight red card.

The Saddlers continued to play positive football, and a little under ten minutes after the sending off, the ten men of Walsall were rewarded as Bolton failed to clear a Kieron Morris free-kick, allowing Jason McCarthy to bundle the ball over the line.

The visitors almost found an immediate equaliser, as Lewis Buxton headed goal-wards at the far post from a corner, but Makris was alert and cleared the ball off the line to keep his sides lead intact. Back at the other end, the Saddlers had a chance to double their advantage as Makris played in Morris whose curling shot was deflected behind by Mark Beevers. The resulting corner was easily cleared by the visiting side.

Ten minutes before the break, the visitors had another opportunity to draw level, as Proctor knocked the ball down to Sammy Ameobi who controlled well before firing the ball over the bar from the edge of the Walsall box. The Saddlers were quick to get the ball back to the other end, where they were awarded a free-kick, which Oztumer sent in to the back-post. Kevin Toner headed the ball across the face of goal but Bolton were able to clear the danger. Moments later, Walsall were awarded another free-kick in a dangerous area, which Scott Laird fired straight at Mark Howard in the Bolton goal, from thirty yards out.

The visitors were keen to find an equaliser before half-time, and as we headed into the final five minutes of the half, Chris Taylor got on the end of an Andrew Taylor cross, but couldn't direct his diving header goal-wards. Moments later, James Henry played the ball in to Proctor who fired goal-wards from eighteen yards. Etheridge was alert in the Walsall goal and parried Proctor's effort clear. Beevers then turned a headed effort wide from the resulting corner. After three minutes of additional time were played, the first half was brought to a close with the Saddlers still leading by one-goal-to-nil


Bolton made their first change of the afternoon as the teams returned to the field for the second half, introducing Zach Clough in place of Lewis Buxton. The visitors got the game back underway, but the Saddlers were quick to win possession and launch an attack, with Morris firing over at the near post. Oztumer dispossessed Beevers, moments later, before sending an effort high and wide from twenty five yards.

Back at the other end, Clough fired a shot narrowly wide after combining well with Ameobi to get the ball to the edge of the Walsall box. Etheridge had more to do moments later, as Chris Taylor fired a powerful effort in from twenty five yards, which the Walsall shot-stopper tipped around his post. Bolton captain, David Wheater, headed wide from the resulting corner, which had been turned in by Henry.

Wheater was involved again on the hour mark, as he crossed the ball in towards Proctor, who headed wide at the far post as the Walsall defence put him under pressure. The visitors felt they should have been awarded a penalty for a challenge on Proctor, the referee didn't agree and Chris Taylor found himself receiving a caution for dissent as he contested the officials decision.

Sixty two minutes in, Bolton went close to finding their sought after equaliser as Henry swung the ball in from a corner. Wheater connected with a powerful, downward header, drawing a fine save from Etheridge who tipped the ball away, keeping his side ahead. The Saddlers broke, with a lofted pass from Makris finding Simeon Jackson who crossed the ball into the middle, just shy of getting it back to Makris.

That was the last involvement for Makris, as the Walsall bench opted to replace him with Amadou Bakayoko, in the sixty fourth minute. Moments later, Bolton made a change of their own, as they introduced Keshi Anderson in place of Chris Taylor. Anderson picking up an immediate booking for entering the field of play before being given the go ahead by the fourth official.

With sixty seven minutes on the clock, Clough burst into the Walsall box following a superb solo run, before firing an effort into the side-netting from a tight angle. The Saddlers regained possession and worked the ball back to the other end, where they won a corner. Jackson almost got on the end of the ball as it was swung in, but missed. The ball fell, instead, to Oztumer who worked his way into space before firing a shot just over the bar from distance.

With quarter of an hour to play, the visitors had another chance to draw level as Proctor connected with a low cross from Josh Vela, drawing an wonderful one-handed save from Etheridge, who was again called in to action moments later, as he tipped a headed shot from Wheater over the bar. Clough blazed the ball over the bar from the resulting corner alleviating the pressure on the Walsall goal.

With five minutes of the game remaining, the visitors made their third and final change of the afternoon, as Dean Moxey took the place of Andrew Taylor and as we reached the ninetieth minute, Walsall made a change of their own as Oztumer made way for Liam Kinsella.

Five additional minutes were awarded by the referee, as there was a break in play as Wheater and Ameobi both received treatment from the Bolton medical team. Both players were soon back up and able to continue as the match got back underway. There was little real action during the final moments, but in the ninety fourth minute, Anderson was dismissed after a second bookable offence, which drew great cheers from the Walsall supporters who felt their team had been unfairly reduced to ten men early in the first half.

The Saddlers saw out the match with their narrow one-nil lead intact, taking all three points and inflicting the first defeat of their season on the visiting Bolton side

GOAL | McCarthy (25')
REFEREE | Trevor Kettle

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