MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Bristol Rovers 1 MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Bristol Rovers 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 3 Bristol Rovers 1

On Saturday afternoon the Saddlers played host to Bristol Rovers in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Saturday afternoon the Saddlers played host to Bristol Rovers in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

The match got off to a slow start as both teams looked to settle. It wasn't until the tenth minute that we saw the first real attacking action of the day, as the Saddlers won a corner courtesy of Daniel Leadbitter. Florent Cuvelier whipped a good ball in from the left, but it had too much height on it and sailed harmlessly across the pitch, gifting Bristol Rovers a throw.

Fifteen minutes in, the Saddlers created their first real chance of the game, with Joe Edwards firing a sot in which was deflected behind. The resulting corner came to nothing, but the home team looked to have settled into the game better than their opponents.

The visitors began to see more of the ball as we reached the twenty minute mark, with Neil Etheridge being called into action for the first time in the twenty first minute. The Saddlers shot-stopper pulling off a superb one-handed save to keep out a curling right-footed effort from Billy Bodin. Moments later, Lee Brown picked up the first Yellow card of the game.

Rovers continued to press and were rewarded for their efforts with a free-kick in a dangerous position as Matt Taylor was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Chris Lines took the set-piece and curled a low ball around the wall, but Etheridge was alert and parried the ball clear.

Five minutes before the break, the Saddlers put together a good passing move which culminated in Jason McCarthy firing a low effort goal-wards, but Rovers on-loan 'keeper, Joe Lumley, was able to claim easily. Moments later, up at the other end, the visitors saw a chance of their own go begging, as a low ball across the edge of the Walsall box fell to Brown who curled his twenty five yard effort over the bar.

Moments before the break, the Saddlers were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Cuvelier stepped up to take the set-piece, picking out Eoghan O'Connell who emphatically fired the ball into the far corner to break the deadlock. The Saddlers one goal up at half-time.


The second half got underway with the teams lining up as they had in the first half. The visitors began brightly, with Ollie Clarke firing a right-footed effort narrowly wide of the upright just three minutes in. Two minutes later, there was a break in play as Bodin went down after appearing to pick up an injury. He was unable to continue, forcing the visitors into their first change of the afternoon; Luke James the man to come on in his place.

The Saddlers enjoyed a decent spell of possession following the brief break in proceedings, which culminated in McCarthy combining well with Erhun Oztumer to set up Amadou Bakayoko, but the young forward was unable to find the target, heading the ball wide.

Fifty five minutes in, the visitors opted to make their second change of the afternoon, with Daniel Leadbitter making way for Byron Moore.

Two minutes after the change, the visitors went close to finding an equaliser, as Clarke picked out Taylor in the area, with a cross from the right, but Taylor fired straight at Etheridge who held the ball with ease. Moments later, the visitors were awarded a dangerous looking free-kick as James was fouled, but the set-piece was taken quickly and the Saddlers regained possession.

The home team began to see more of the ball as we headed past the hour mark, and sixty three minutes in they almost converted, as some good work from Captain Adam Chambers allowed McCarthy to break with the ball. McCarthy raced forward, but his low cross inside was cleared by James Clarke.

In the sixty fifth minute, the Walsall bench made their first change of the half. Amadou Bakayoko the man to make way for Simeon Jackson. They were rewarded just three minutes later, as a long ball over the top set Jackson away to double the Saddlers lead with a superb lob over the swiftly advancing Rovers 'keeper.

The home team looked dominant as the game continued and six minutes after Jackson's goal, they made their dominance pay, effectively putting the tie to bed, as Edwards dispossessed Moore before coolly slotting home from close range. The visitors reacted to the goal by making their third and final change of the afternoon; Ryan Broom replacing Rory Gaffney.

In the seventy seventh minute, the Saddlers made their second change of the afternoon, with Erhun Oztumer making way for Andreas Makris. Three minutes later, they made their third and final change of the game, replacing Florent Cuvelier with George Dobson.

Eight minutes from time, the visitors clawed a goal back; Brown crossing the ball in from the left, which was missed by Etheridge, allowing Taylor to head home from close range.

In the eighty ninth minute, a foul on Moore gifted Rovers a free-kick just outside the area. Lines took the set-piece, but the ball was headed over the bar from close range.

Five additional minutes were added at the end of the half, but neither side was able to create any further chances and the home team picked up all three points. Another excellent team performance from the Saddlers who seem to have found their goal-scoring form.

HT | 1-0
GOALS | O'Connell (45'), Jackson (68'), Edwards (73') - Taylor (82')
ATTENDANCE | 6,029 (1,991 Bristol Rovers)
REFEREE | Nigel Miller (County Durham)
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