Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

MATCH REPORT | Rochdale 4 Walsall 0

On Tuesday evening Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled North to Greater Manchester where they took on Rochdale in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Tuesday evening Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled North to Greater Manchester where they took on Rochdale in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

Walsall got the match underway and within seconds of kick-off, Erhun Oztumer had worked his way into a dangerous area and crossed a low ball into the area, where Rochdale 'keeper, Conrad Logan was on hand to smother. A bright start from the Saddlers.

Rochdale broke following the Saddlers early attack but were unable to capitalise, as Oliver Rathbone's low ball into the area caught a defender's foot on it's way through, taking it away from goal. Two minutes later, and back at the other end, Scott Laird almost put Simeon Jackson in on goal with a lovely ball over the top, but Logan was again on hand to claim.

As we headed towards the tenth minute, Walsall were awarded a corner, which was played low into the area but a Dale player was first to it and the home team broke, but Rathbone's pass was over-hit and the ball rolled out for goal-kick. The Saddlers worked the ball back up to the other end following the goal-kick, where Joe Edwards fired the ball into the back of the net, but not before handling in the box, which the officials spotted and the goal wouldn't stand.

With twenty minutes on the clock, the hosts created a decent opportunity to open the scoring, as Nathaniel Mendez-Laing crossed the ball in. Rathbone got his head to the ball, but it sailed harmlessly over the bar. The hosts continued to press and soon won a free-kick on the edge of the area, which Joe Rafferty played in towards the back post. There was too much on his cross though and the ball travelled out for another goal-kick.

With twenty five minutes on the clock, the hosts almost found the thus far illusive first goal, Scott Tanser playing the ball on towards the back post where Joseph Thompson was waiting. Thompson got his head to the ball but it clipped Franck Moussa and went out. The resulting corner came to nothing as the Saddlers defence did their job well to clear the danger.

As we reached the half hour mark, Walsall captain Adam Chambers fired an effort in from twenty yards which sailed just wide of the post. Within seconds,  the hosts had the ball back at the other end, where Joe Rafferty played a low cross across the face of goal, but a sliding Thompson, at full stretch, was unable to connect. Mere moments later, a loose ball allowed for a lovely one-two between Rathbone and Thompson. Thompson ultimately the one to get a shot away as he bundled his way into the box, finding his way past Neil Etheridge, before finishing the move from close range.

The hosts continued to press and almost found a second just five minutes after the first as a cross from Rafferty picked out an unmarked Rathbone, who headed the ball goal-wards. Etheridge was alert in the Walsall goal and got enough on the ball to push it over the bar.  Walsall defended the resulting corner, but gifted the ball back to the hosts, who worked the ball out to Reuben Noble Lazarus whose powerful effort sailed just over the bar.

With just four minutes of the half remaining, the Saddlers conceded a second goal as they failed to defend a low cross from Mendez-Laing which picked out Noble-Lazarus, who was simply able to tap the ball home. The Saddlers felt the ball had been cleared off the line, but the referee deemed that the goal should stand, and after the final few minutes of the half were seen out, the teams headed for the dressing rooms with the hosts enjoying a two goal cushion over Walsall.


The Saddlers made their first change of the game as the teams made their way back out onto the field. Erhun Oztumer the man to make way as Amadou Bakayoko took his place, and the hosts got us back underway. Four minutes in to the half, Matthew Lund set Noble-Lazarus up. The Rochdale winger fired a curling effort goal-wards from just inside the area, but Etheridge was able to claim.

With six minutes of the half played, Joe Edwards became the first player to receive a caution, as he brought down Thompson who was just too quick for him.

In the fifty sixth minute, some lovely work from Noble-Lazarus and Thompson set up Tanser, whose cross was palmed away by Etheridge. The Walsall 'keeper was only able to partially clear, and the ball came out Rafferty whose shot took a deflection before heading behind. The hosts made their first change of the evening before the corner was taken, as Noble-Lazarus made way for Steven Davies. When the flag-kick was eventually taken, Walsall were able to defend and clear the danger. Rochdale continued to press and were rewarded with a corner as we reached the hour mark as a cross from Thompson was deflected behind. Tanser played the ball in, but the Saddlers defence were able to clear the danger.

With sixty five minutes on the clock, the Walsall bench opted to introduce their second substitute of the evening, as Florent Cuvelier took the place of a rather quiet Josh Ginnelly.

After a quieter spell, the Saddlers won a free-kick on the corner of the box in the seventy third minute. The ball was played in towards the back post but Logan was able to collect. Two minutes later, with the ball back at the other end, the hosts were awarded a penalty as Mendez-Laing was brought down by Etheridge. Davies stepped up and fired the ball into the top corner to give his team a three goal cushion.

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, Rochdale made their second change of the evening as Mendez-Laing made way for Ian Henderson. Three minutes later, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change to the starting line-up, as Simeon Jackson made way for Andreas Makris.

In the eighty first minute, Rochdale missed a golden opportunity to score a fourth. A cheeky back-heel from Thomson picking out Henderson who danced his way into the box, passed Kevin Toner, before firing towards Etheridge who got a touch on the ball before it went out. All three points as good as secured already, but he should have done better. The corner was swung in, but the Walsall defence were able to clear.

With just three minutes of the regulation ninety still to play, Rochdale made their third and final change of the evening, as Rathbone made way for Sanmi Odelusi.

Shortly after the change was made, Henderson was tripped on the edge of the area, gifting his team a free-kick in a dangerous position. Tanser delivered the set-piece but the Saddlers got a head to it and cleared.

Three additional minutes were added at the end of the ninety and just one minute into them, the hosts found a fourth goal as, seeing Etheridge off his line, Davies fired a thirty yard effort into the back of the net. That was to be the last real action of the match, Walsall mustering just one shot on target throughout the game and conceding four goals.

HT | 2-0
GOALS | Rathbone (32'), Noble-Lazarus (41'), Davies (PEN 76' & 90+1')
REFEREE | Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear)

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