MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Southend United 0 MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Southend United 0

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Southend United 0

On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to Southend United in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers played host to Southend United in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

Both teams started brightly, with Southend United creating an early chance as Anthony Wordsworth crossed the ball in to Nile Ranger, whose looping header was held by Walsall 'keeper, Neil Etheridge. The Saddlers created a chance of their own just two minutes later, as a low cross from Erhun Oztumer found Andreas Makris who flicked the ball on, but found the woodwork.

Some good combination play between Oztumer and Kieron Morris created a second decent chance for the Saddlers, but Morris' shot took a deflection and tricked behind for a corner, which Southend 'keeper, Mark Oxley was able to claim. The goal-kick set the Blues away on the counter, but the Saddlers were able to cut out the attack and regain possession. The home side kept the ball well as they worked it back up towards Oxley's goal, a move which culminated in another shot from Makris, who this time fired straight at the waiting 'keeper, who had no problems holding the ball.

In the fifteenth minute, the referee gave the first yellow card of the afternoon to Michael Timlin for a poor challenge on Oztumer. Two minutes later, former Saddler Jason Demetriou crossed the ball in from the right-wing, picking out Stephen McLaughlin, who headed effort sailed narrowly wide of the post. Five minutes later, the visitors created another chance on the break, as Ranger picked up the ball around the halfway line and  ran some sixty yards, passing Josh Ginnelly and Kevin Toner, before seeing his goal-bound effort saved by Etheridge. A delightful piece of individual skill on show.

As we reached the twenty five minute mark, Southend won a free-kick, as Walsall captain, Adam Chambers was awarded a yellow card. Wordsworth curled the ball over the wall, twenty five yards from goal, but Etheridge got to the ball and kept the teams level. Four minutes later, the Saddlers hit the woodwork for a second time, as Scott Laird drilled a shot in from just inside the box, but a deflection turned the ball onto the crossbar and out for corner, which came to nothing.

With half an hour played, Etheridge was again called into action, as a fierce drive from McLaughlin almost hit the mark, but the Walsall 'keeper got his fingertips to the ball and kept his side level. The tempo slowed a little after a busy start to the game, but in the thirty seventh minute, the visitors created another gilt-edged chance as Simon Cox cut the ball back to Wordsworth, who should have scored from twelve yards out, but turned the ball wide of the post. A let off for the Saddlers. Two minutes later, a mistake from Toner, who failed to clear the ball, allowed Wordsworth another shot, this time from twenty yards out. Etheridge was alert and made an impressive one-handed save, tipping the ball over the bar.

One additional minute was added, as Cox became the third name added to the referee's notebook, for a poor tackle. After forty six minutes of high tempo football, the teams took to the tunnel with the score still level, and everything to play for in the second half.


The Saddlers made their first change of the afternoon as the teams emerged for the second half, with Matt Preston taking the place of Kevin Toner as the match got back underway. The second half began at a much slower tempo than the first half, and it wasn't until nine minutes in that either side created a chance. In the fifty fourth minute, Oztumer worked the ball up to the edge of the penalty area before firing a shot in, but his left-footed effort sailed wide of the mark and the scores remained level. The visitors retained possession following the goal-kick and worked the ball back towards Etheridge's goal. Ranger fell to the floor, inside the box, under a challenge from Preston, prompting calls for a penalty, but the referee waved play on.

In the fifty eighth minute, the Saddlers bench opted to make their second change of the afternoon, replacing Andreas Makris with Amadou Bakayoko.

With an hour played, Ranger found himself through on goal, but an exceptional tackle from Preston prevented him getting a shot away. Four minutes later, the Blues made their first substitution, with Simon Cox the man to make way for Marc-Antoine Fortune.

With sixty five minutes on the clock, a good move down the left from Bakayoko to chase a long ball and hold it, before crossing, set Joe Edwards through on goal, but the midfielders effort sailed just wide of the post. Moments later, back at the other end, a fierce strike from McLaughlin was kept out by Etheridge. The Saddlers retained possession from the goal-kick and almost opened the scoring, as Kieron Morris fired an effort in from twenty yards, which took a deflection allowing a diving Oxley to catch the ball.

With seventy two minutes on the clock, a defensive mix up saw Preston play the ball into the path of McLaughlin, who got a shot away. Luckily for the Saddlers, Etheridge was alert and came out to save. The brief stoppage in play before the goal-kick was taken, allowed the Blues time to make their second change of the game, with Wordsworth making way for Jermaine McGlashan.

As we headed into the final fifteen minutes, a deep cross from Jason McCarthy towards the back post, found Laird, who headed the ball wide. After a quieter seven or eight minutes, Morris found himself in position to shoot, but his fierce driven effort was beaten away by Oxley, keeping the game goalless.

In the eighty fourth minute, the Saddlers made their third and final change of the afternoon, as Erhun Oztumer made way for Simeon Jackson. Just two minutes after his introduction into the game, he almost opened the scoring, as he latched onto a long ball from Ginnelly, before cutting into the box and firing goal-wards, where Oxley was able to save.

Three additonal minutes were added at the end of the ninety, as the visitors won a corner. Walsall defended well, but gifted the Blues a throw-in in a dangerous position as they sought to clear the ball, but the Saddlers defence held firm and dealt with the pressure.

As the referee brought an end to proceedings, with the scores still level, tensions boiled over on the pitch, with Scott Laird and Southend captain, Anton Ferdinand, squaring up, resulting in Ferdinand picking up a yellow card after the final whistle had blown.

HT | 0-0
ATTENDANCE | 4,342 (438 Southend United)
REFEREE | Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
MoTM | Scott Laird
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