Monday, 26 December 2016

Monday, 26 December 2016

MATCH REPORT | Port Vale 0 Walsall 1

On Boxing Day the Saddlers made the short trip to Vale Park where they took on Port Vale in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Boxing Day the Saddlers made the short trip to Vale Park where they took on Port Vale in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

Anthony Grant got the match underway for Port Vale. The home side started well, creating an early chance just two minutes in, but Ryan Taylor's free-kick sailed harmlessly out without troubling  Neil Etheridge in the Walsall goal. Two minutes later, the Saddlers created a chance of their own as a Simeon Jackson cross was met by Joe Edwards whose half-volley was comfortably saved by Jak Alnwick in the Port Vale goal. Jackson had a chance of his own moments later, finding his way clear through on goal, but the linesman flagged him offside. A bright start from both teams.

After a quieter spell as both teams settled into the game, Matt Preston attempted a shot from thirty five yards, which sailed well wide. Moments later, having regained possession following the goal-kick, Florent Cuvelier set up Amadou Bakayoko, who attempted to round Alnwick who came out to meet him and blocked his effort.

Twenty seven minutes in, the Saddlers opened the scoring; Isaiah Osbourne doing well to pick out an unmarked Scott Laird, who had time to chest the ball down before slotting it coolly past Alnwick.

Two minutes after taking the lead, the Saddlers should have doubled their advantage as Jackson lifted the ball over the Vale 'keeper with a looping effort which cleared the crossbar.

After another quieter spell, the hosts created a chance after some good build-up play between Taylor and Alex Jones, before the ball fell to Anthony de Freitas, whose cross was easily grabbed by an alert Etheridge. A few minutes later, Walsall created another chance, as a deep cross from Laird fell kindly for Cuvelier who was unmarked inside the box. Unfortunately for the Saddlers, Cuvelier's volleyed effort sailed wide of the mark without testing Alnwick.

As we raced towards the interval, the home team created a final chance, as a lovely ball from Alnwick picked out Jones with pin-point accuracy, before Jones won his side a corner, which Walsall defended well allowing them to take their one goal lead into the break.


The Saddlers got the match back underway, and a few minutes in, created the first chance of the second half as Jason McCarthy and Edwards combined well, before McCarthy drilled a low cross along the six yard box, which Alnwick did well to claim. A good start to the half for the Saddlers, who continued to press as they sought to extend their narrow lead. Moments after McCarthy's effort, Cuvelier fired a powerful effort goal-wards from twenty yards out, which an alert Alnwick was able to palm away.

With fifty two minutes on the clock, the Port Vale bench opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Anthony de Freitas the man to make way for Sam Kelly.

As we neared the hour mark, the home team felt they should have had a penalty as Rigino Cicilia went down in the box, but the referee waved play on. Seconds later, there were more penalty appeals from the home side as the recently introduced  Kelly went down in the box, but again referee Deadman waved play on.

The home side continued to enjoy a good spell of pressure in front of the Walsall goal, which culminated in Nathan Smith shooting after meeting a low cross from Jones. Preston was on hand for the Saddlers to block the effort from point-blank range and hack the ball away, before it was thrown back into the box, where Cicilia was adjudged to be offside, allowing the Saddlers to clear the danger.

With sixty seven minutes on the clock, Port Vale made their second change of the afternoon, as Kjell Knops was replaced by Kiko. After a quiet five minutes, the Saddlers made their first change of the game, as Amadou Bakayoko made way for Erhun Oztumer.

Oztumer was quick to get involved, setting up Adam Chambers just moments after his introduction, but Chambers effort from twenty five yards flew inches over the bar. The hosts created another chance of their own moments later, as Cicilia fired an effort in from twenty yards. Etheridge did well to get down to his right to keep the Saddlers fragile lead in tact. Moments later, back at the other end, a twenty five yard effort from Oztumer looked good, but ultimately made an easy save for Alnwick.

With eleven minutes of the game remaining, the home team opted to introduce their final substitute of the day, as Martin Paterson came on in place of Paulo Tavares. The Saddlers also took the opportunity to make a change to their line up, as Simeon Jackson was replaced by Andreas Makris.

In the eighty fourth minute, the Walsall bench made their final change of the game, as Florent Cuvelier made way for Kieron Morris. The final few minutes of the half were a fairly tame affair, as the Saddlers sought to run down the clock and limited Port Vale's chances.

Five additional minutes were awarded at the end of the ninety, and the hosts looked likely to score in the third of them as a cross from Kiko found Jones at the back post. Luckily for the Saddlers, Laird was on hand to block the effort and keep his side ahead and the visitors were able to see out the remaining moments to take all three points from their festive road trip.

GOAL | Laird (27')
ATTENDANCE | 5,854 (838 Walsall)
REFEREE | Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)

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