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MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Shrewsbury Town 2

On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to near-rivals Shrewsbury Town in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. You can read our match report below.
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to near-rivals Shrewsbury Town in the latest fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign. You can read our match report below.

The match got off to something of a slow start, with both teams looking to settle into the game. It took until the fifteenth minute for either side to create any real chance of note and it fell to Walsall as Jason McCarthy sent a cross over the head of Jayson Leutwiler. Kieron Morris did well to keep the ball in play and put it back into the danger area, but the Shrews defence were alert and able to clear the danger.

Chances were few and far between as the match continued, but twenty three minutes in Walsall created another and this time they were able to convert as Erhun Oztumer played a perfectly placed pass through for Bakayoko who coolly fired past Leutwiler to open the scoring.

Buoyed by their opener and keen to extend their lead, the Saddlers took little time in working the ball back towards goal, where Joe Edwards saw a long-range effort beaten away by Leutwiler, before Town's defence was called into action to block a follow-up from Oztumer. Much better from the home side who were clearly spurred on by the opening goal.

With just twenty six minutes played, the Shrews were forced to make their first change of the afternoon as Adam El-Abd appeared to pick up an injury during a Walsall attack. Ex-Saddler Olly Lancashire took his place and Abu Ogogo took over the captaincy.

As we reached the half hour mark the Shrews were awarded a free-kick, which Ian Black played into the box, where the recently introduced Lancashire was waiting. Lancashire turned a looping header over Walsall 'keeper, Neil Etheridge, to bring the sides level.

With ten minutes of the half remaining the hosts almost found a second, as the ball fell kindly to James O'Connor in the box as the Shrews failed to deal with a low cross from McCarthy. O'Connor struck the ball well but his effort from close-range sailed over the bar.

The home side continued to press and with just three minutes of the first half remaining, the pressure paid off as Morris bundled the ball home after it rebounded off Leutwiler who was unable to hold an Edwards effort. A scrappy goal, but a lead which the Saddlers will have been very happy to take into the break.

Town looked for a late equaliser as half-time loomed, and were unlucky not to score as an outrageous back-heeled flick from Waring was saved with a stunning one-handed effort from Etheridge.

Two minutes of additional time were played, but the Saddlers held on to keep their one-goal lead intact as we reached the break.


The match got back underway with the teams unchanged. The second half starting at a much increased tempo to that of the first half. The visitors, keen to find a second equaliser, got forward quickly and just two minutes into the half created a chance in a move almost identical to that which produced their first goal, as a deep free-kick from Black found the head of Lancashire. This time there was no end product as the headed effort sailed wide of goal.

The hosts created a chance of their own moments later, as Oztumer set up Morris whose shot was blocked by Lancashire. Scott Laird picked up the loose ball and crossed in towards Franck Moussa, whose headed effort sailed harmlessly over the bar. A bright start to the half from both teams.

Four minutes into the half, play was stopped as Ryan McGivern went down. He was fine to continue after a brief spell of treatment, but he did pick up a caution, presumably for foul and abusive language.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of possession following the resumption of play, with Riley drilling a shot across the face of goal and out wide, before the ball fell to Waring on the edge of the box. Waring took the ball on his chest and played it down into the path of Antoni Sarcevic who took a touch before turning a low shot in. Waring again found himself with the ball moments later; he set up Andy Mangan, who turned a shot in from twenty yards but without the power to beat the 'keeper and Etheridge made a comfortable save.

With ten minutes of the half played, Walsall saw a glorious chance go begging as Oztumer found himself one-on-one with Leutwiler, after Adam Chambers regained possession for the Saddlers, but his low effort trickled inches wide of goal. Both Jack Grimmer and Abu Ogogo were cautioned for complaining to the referee.

With fifty eight minutes on the clock, the visitors found a second equaliser, as Etheridge came out for Black's corner but failed to get to the ball. The ball was headed back in and Junior Brown bundled it over the line from close range.

Moments after Town drew level, they were almost given an opportunity to take the lead, as the referee awarded a penalty for an O'Connor foul on Waring. Fortunatly for the Saddlers, the linesman had already raised his flag as one of the visiting team was caught offside and the Saddlers breathed a sigh of relief.

Sixty five minutes in, the visiting side were reduced to ten men as former Saddler, McGivern, was awarded a second yellow card for his reaction to a challenge from Bakayoko. Shortly after the sending off, O'Connor was awarded a yellow card for a foul on Waring.

With eighteen minutes remaining, Shrewsbury made their second change of the game as Jim O'Brien came on in place of Andy Mangan. Two minutes later, another yellow card was shown as the referee deemed a sliding tackle on Chambers as too strong and cautioned Black.

Fifteen minutes from time, the Saddlers bench opted to make their first substitution of the game, bringing on former Shrewsbury man Josh Ginnelly in place of Kieron Morris.

The visitors had a glorious chance take the lead in the seventy eighth minute, as Waring knocked the ball down for Sarcevic, just in front of goal, but Laird was alert and got in position to block the ball at the last second. Moments later, at the other end, Leutwiler was called into action to block an effort from Moussa with his legs.

Six minutes from time, Shrewbury made their final change of the game, as Waring, who appeared to be suffering from cramp after a busy afternoon, made way for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. The home side continued to press as they sought to make their man advantage pay, and were unlucky not to regain the lead as first Bakayoko saw a shot blocked by Brown and then Moussa dragged an effort wide from eight yards.

With just two minutes of the ninety remaining, the Saddlers won a corner. Oztumer swung the ball in to the near-post, beating everyone including Leutwiler, and finding the back of the net to give his Saddlers side the lead for the third time in the game. Walsall lost their man advantage following the goal, as Bakayoko was a shown a second yellow card for over-celebrating the goal.

Five minutes of additional time were awarded and the Walsall bench made a change in the second of them, bringing on Andreas Makris in place of goalscorer Oztumer. Three minutes later, the Saddlers made their third and final change of the afternoon as Matt Preston came on in place of Franck Moussa.

With ninety six minutes on the clock, the visiting side saw their final chance of the game come to nothing as O'Brien curled an effort over the bar and referee Nick Kinseley brought an end to an eventful afternoon in which he had been very much involved, awarding nine yellow cards and sending two players off, as well as awarding a penalty which ultimately was over-ruled.

HT | 2-1
GOALS | Bakayoko (23'), Morris (42'), Oztumer (88') -- Lancashire (30'), Brown (58')
ATTENDANCE | 4,759 (572 Shrewsbury Town)
REFEREE | Mr. Nick Kinseley | (Essex)

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