MATCH REPORT | AFC Wimbledon 1 Walsall 0 MATCH REPORT | AFC Wimbledon 1 Walsall 0

MATCH REPORT | AFC Wimbledon 1 Walsall 0

On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Walsall travelled to Kingsmeadow and took on AFC Wimbledon in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season.
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Walsall travelled to Kingsmeadow and took on AFC Wimbledon 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, with both teams taking some time to settle into the game, with the first real action of note coming in the seventh minute when Jake Reeves fired a weak, right footed effort towards goal from outside the box, which made for an easy first save for Neil Etheridge. The game continued as something of a midfield battle, with Walsall enjoying a descent spell of possession, which culminated in a low delivery into the box from Jason McCarthy being scrambled away by the Dons defence, ten minutes in.

As we headed towards the quarter hour mark, McCarthy was again involved in front of goal, cutting inside his marker before firing a left footed, curling effort in from outside the box, which drew a fine save from Wimbledon 'keeper, James Shea who got down well to protect the bottom left corner of his goal.

The hosts won the first corner of the game sixteen minutes in, when McCarthy was forced to put the ball behind. The set-piece was whipped in by George Francomb but the Saddlers defence were alert to clear the danger, but the Dons continued to grow into the game as it continued, and their supporters felt they should have been given an advantage when a handball was missed by the referee in the twenty second minute, as Andy Barcham made his way towards goal. Fortunately for the Saddlers, the incident was missed and play continued, allowing the Walsall defences to deal with the danger.

Barcham was again involved a few minutes later, sending a low cross in from the left wing, which was narrowly missed by Tom Soares who was unable to connect at full stretch. The hosts continued to apply pressure in front of goal, which eventually led to them winning another corner in the twenty eighth minute, which the Saddlers were easily able to deal with after a poor delivery from Francomb.

The match continued back in midfield, with neither side able to create much going forward, until the thirty nineth minute, when a superb pass into box from Isaiah Osbourne was met by Simeon Jackson who lifted a right footed effort over Shea from the centre of the box. There was just a little too much on it though and the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar. Four minutes later, the Saddlers won a corner, which was whipped in towards Osbourne who was waiting in the box to bundle the ball over the line, which he duly did. Unfortunately for the visiting side, the referee spotted a foul on Shea, resulting in the goal being disallowed.

The final couple of minutes of the first half passed without incident and the teams took to the tunnel as they had begun the match, all-square.


The sides returned to the field unchanged after the break and the match got back underway, much the same way as the first half did, with very little incident of note in the opening few minutes, until, in the fifty fourth minute, the Dons saw arguably the best chance of the game go begging; Etheridge defending the top right corner of his goal brilliantly to deny Dannie Bulman from twenty five yards.  The hosts continued to apply pressure in front of goal as the half continued, but were unable to really trouble the Walsall 'keeper further.

As we headed past the hour mark, the Dons continued to appear the team in the ascendancy as they searched for the opening goal. In the sixty second minute, a twenty five yard Reeves effort, hit Osbourne on it's way through, momentarily looking like it may open the scoring, before Etheridge gathered to avert the danger. In the sixty fourth minute, Jake Reeves became the first player to receive a caution, for tripping Joe Edwards.

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure, with the Saddlers unable to get the ball out of the danger zone, and in the sixty eighth minute, the pressure paid off, when the ball fell to Lyle Taylor in the box. The Dons forward missed his first attempt, before drilling the ball past Etheridge at the second time of asking to give his side the lead.

Moments after the goal, the Dons missed a golden opportunity to increase their advantage, Etheridge keeping his side in the game with a superb diving save to keep out a headed Tom Elliot effort from Francomb's corner. A fabulous effort from the Walsall 'keeper, to prevent the match being all but put to bed. The Saddlers finally managed to find some time on the ball following the goal-kick, and Erhun Oztumer was unlucky not to draw his side level in the seventy second minute, firing his twenty five yard, right-footed effort over the bar.

In the seventy third minute, the Walsall bench made their first change of the afternoon, introducing the attacking threat of Amadou Bakayoko in place of Matt Preston as they looked for a route back into the game. It took only two minutes for the freshly introduced forward to create a chance, as he set up Kieron Morris, whose left-footed shot trickled narrowly wide of the post.

In the seventy sixth minute, Isaiah Osbourne picked up his fifth league booking of the season, for a poor challenge on Reeves.

The match continued with little incident as the Dons appeared content to defend their lead, whilst the Saddlers struggled to get the ball forward. In the eighty third minute, the Wimbledon bench chose to make their first change of the afternoon, with Dominic Poleon replacing goalscorer Lyle Taylor.

Two minutes after the Dons change, the Saddlers made a second change to their line-up, with Joe Edwards making way for Scott Laird, as the visitors looked to create something in the final moments to draw the game level.

The final few minutes of the match were an open affair as the hosts looked to finish the game off, whilst the Saddlers desperately sought a last gasp equaliser. The Dons were first to create something as we headed into three minutes of additional time as the end of the regulation ninety, with Francomb cutting the ball back to Elliott, who side-footed wide at the near post when he looked certain to score.

Moments later, at the other end, Shea was forced to make a superb save to deny James O'Connor from Oztumer's corner. The Saddlers kept the pressure on their hosts and almost drew level in the ninety first minute, but Laird's powerful twenty five yard drive cannoned off the top of the bar, allowing the Dons to get the ball away from the danger zone and up to the other end, where Etheridge was drawn into a fabulous, one-handed save of his own to turn away a fierce looking effort from Elliott, to keep his team's hopes alive. However, it was too late for the Saddlers, as the clock ran down before they could find a goal back. The Dons taking all three points, with a one-nil victory, following a match that both teams took too long to really get in to.

HT | 0-0
GOAL | Taylor (68')
ATTENDANCE | 4,586 (613 Walsall)
REFEREE | John Busby (Oxfordshire)
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