MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 Scunthorpe United 4 MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 Scunthorpe United 4
Posted by: Bescot Banter

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 Scunthorpe United 4

On Tuesday evening Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to Scunthorpe United in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. You can read our match report below.
On Tuesday evening Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to Scunthorpe United in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. You can read our match report below.

Erhun Oztumer got the match underway for the Saddlers, but it was the visitors who saw a chance go begging with less than thirty seconds on the clock, as an under-hit back-pass from Kevin Toner fell to Duane Holmes who fired wide of the near post.

The match settled, as both teams enjoyed good spells of possession, with neither side able to create much by way of a scoring opportunity, until ten minutes in, Scunthorpe were awarded a penalty as Liam Kinsella was adjudged to have handled the ball. Josh Morris converted well, sending the ball high into the top, right corner, as he sent Neil Etheridge the wrong way.

As has been the case all too frequently so far this season, the Saddlers seemed to capitulate after the goal, and within two minutes, the visitors had doubled their advantage as they broke after clearing a Walsall free-kick.  Etheridge did well to save the initial effort from Tom Hopper, but the Walsall 'keeper was unable to deal with the rebound, which Morris turned home.

The Saddlers tried to get back into the game before the break, with Oztumer whipping some decent crosses in, though there were no clear chances for the home side. Twenty four minutes in, Kieron Morris almost got his side back into the game, with a lovely cut infield before firing a low shot goal-wards, but Luke Daniels was able to save comfortably.

The Saddlers defence did well to keep the deficit to two, with Hopper looking a constant danger. Twenty six minutes in, an exchange between Hopper and ex-Saddler Sam Mantom ended with Hopper being flagged offside as he appeared to be closing in on goal. Two minutes later, Hopper again appeared to be headed through on goal as the ball was slipped through to him, ahead of Toner. James O'Connor just able to get back and clear, conceding a corner in the process, which came to nothing.

As we reached the half hour mark, some bright play from Kieron Morris saw the creation of a chance for the Saddlers, as he worked his way into the box, but unfortunately, his cross was just too strong for it's intended recipient, Simeon Jackson, and  none of his teammates were able to get to the ball as it flashed across goal.

The visitors were keen to further extend their lead, forcing some good work from the Saddlers defences to prevent them finding a third. Holmes almost found his way past through but Kinsella was alert and able to head the ball safely back to Etheridge who gathered to prevent the danger.

Ten minutes before the interval, a good break from the Saddlers almost saw them claw a goal back, as Jason McCarthy cut the ball back for Jackson whose effort was blocked. Better play from the home side, but the Saddlers still unable to find a route through. The hosts continued to press, and with little over five minutes of the half remaining, they won a corner as Jackson forced Scunthorpe captain, Murray Wallace to turn the ball out. The flag-kick was swung in, but Mantom was able to clear the danger for the visitors, picking up a knock in the process, winning his side a free-kick and chance for a breather.

As we headed into two minutes of additional time, Oztumer halved the deficit as he created space, weaving his way up-field before slotting the ball into the bottom corner from eighteen yards out. A superb showing of individual skill. Moments later, the Saddlers had a chance to draw level, as Jackson sent an effort in from just six yards out, which Daniels managed to block with his legs, keeping his side ahead as the teams left the field for their half-time refreshments.


Scunthorpe opted to make their first change of the evening as the teams returned to the field for the second half, as Scott Wiseman replaced Jordan Clarke, who had had a fairly quiet first half. The visitors got the match back underway, and almost immediately caught the Saddlers defences off-guard as Mantom played the ball to the edge of the area, where Holmes was able to shield it long enough for Neal Bishop to get in position before firing the ball into the bottom corner from twenty five yards.

With just four minutes of the second half played, the visitors almost found a fourth goal as Harry Toffolo fired a powerful shot in, forcing Etheridge to beat the ball away, gifting the Iron a corner, which came to nothing.

Eight minutes into the half, the Saddlers decided it was time to try something new, as they introduced Franck Moussa and Amadou Bakayoko in place of the quiet Florent Cuvelier and Isaiah Osbourne. Moussa almost made an immediate impact, as his inventive flick on flashed across the face of goal, needing just a touch to turn it home. Unfortunately, none of his teammates were able to get to the ball in time and the chance went begging.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of possession as the match continued, and after a couple of corners which they were unable to convert, they went close as David Mirfin attempted to connect with a low cross. He was unable to turn the ball home though, allowing Walsall time to clear. As we reached the hour mark, with the visitors still largely in control, the Iron were awarded a free-kick as Hopper was brought down chasing the ball. Richie Smallwood found Hopper with the free-kick, but Hopper's headed effort made for an easy save for Etheridge.

Moments later, it was Daniels in the Scunthorpe goal, who had a shot to save as Kieron Morris cut inside from the right before sending a low shot goal-wards, forcing the visiting 'keeper to dive to his left to save. Back at the other end, an offside decision from the linesman appeared to be overruled as the referee allowed a run from Holmes to continue. Etheridge was alert and able to parry the effort, preventing a controversial goal.

With twenty minutes of the game remaining, Walsall were fortunate not to concede another goal, as Etheridge pulled off an awkward save to deny Mantom whose twenty yard effort dipped at the last second. Some excellent play from the Walsall shot-stopper.

As we headed into the seventy third minute, Walsall made their third and final change of the evening, as Kieron Morris made way for Andreas Makris.

Quarter of an hour from time, the visitors created another chance, as Hopper knocked the ball down to Holmes who fed it through to Mantom, who was dispossessed, winning his side a corner as the ball went out. Following a short flag-kick, Josh Morris curled a delightful cross towards goal, but the ever alert Etheridge was able to gather.

Seventy seven minutes in, the visitors made their second change of the evening as  Holmes was replaced by Stephen Dawson. Dawson quick to get involved in the action, as he turned a cross in towards Hopper whose headed effort was turned around the post by the busy Walsall 'keeper. The resulting corner was turned behind as Mirfin failed to keep his headed effort on target.

With eighty two minutes on the clock, the visitors found their much sought after fourth goal; a real team effort as Mantom played the ball to Hopper, who passed to Josh Morris who curled the ball coolly into the top corner to complete his hat-trick. Moments after the goal, the Iron made their final change of the evening as they looked to run down the clock, replacing Hopper with Kevin Van Veen.

The visitors enjoyed a good final few minutes as they continued to run down the clock, limiting the Saddlers chances to a minimum, but with three minutes remaining, Walsall did create a scoring opportunity as Moussa raced through on goal only to be denied by a spectacular finger-tip save from Daniels. Disappointingly for the Saddlers, the referee awarded a goal-kick rather than a corner, and as the visitors played the ball back to the other end from the goal-kick, they almost scored a fifth. Van Veen clipping the bar as he looked to chip the ball over Etheridge.

As we headed into three additional minutes, the Saddlers saw a goal disallowed as Makris rattled the bar and Bakayoko turned the loose ball home, but the linesman had his flag raised and the Saddlers were denied a late consolation. The match ended with the visitors winning by four-goals-to-one. A disappointing evening for the Saddlers who seemed to struggle to get into the game for long periods.

GOAL | Oztumer (45') - Morris (11', 13', 82'), Bishop (47')
REFEREE | Michael Salisbury
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