Saturday, 11 February 2017

Saturday, 11 February 2017

MATCH REPORT | Bolton Wanderers 4 Walsall 1

On Saturday afternoon the Saddlers travelled North and took on Bolton Wanderers 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 travelled North and took on Bolton Wanderers in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

The Trotters got the match underway at the Macron Stadium and almost made a dream start when Adam Le Fondre fired a thirty yard volley towards the Walsall goal inside the opening ten seconds, but Neil Etheridge, was alert to prevent the goal. The Saddlers also started the game brightly, and just four minutes in, they opened the scoring; Erhun Oztumer finding the back of the net with a forty yard shot which sailed over Ben Alnwick into the top corner.

Bolton looked for a quick reply and could have found one thirteen minutes in when then were awarded a free-kick twenty five yards from goal, but Jay Spearing's curling effort soared harmlessly over the bar. Two minutes later, they had more success from a corner, which was played in by Spearing and met by Gary Madine who beat Etheridge with a little help from the upright to draw his side level.

After a quieter spell during which both teams looked for a second goal without much luck, the hosts were awarded another corner in the twenty sixth minute. The initial cross was cleared off the line by Joe Edwards, but the re-delivery from Spearing was turned into his own net by Walsall's James O'Connor to gift Bolton the lead. The Saddlers looked for a quick response and were rewarded with a free-kick in the twenty eighth minute. Oztumer took the set-piece which was cleared as far as Walsall captain Adam Chambers, who fired over the bar.

Half an hour in, Bolton extended their lead, as Madine chested the ball down into the path of Liam Trotter who beat Etheridge with a looping twenty five yard effort. Moments later, they could have found a fourth, as David Wheater fired a thunderous  right-footed, thirty yard effort narrowly over the bar from another set-piece.

In the thirty ninth minute, the hosts missed another chance to add a fourth, as Madine headed an effort wide of the mark from the centre of the box. Bolton firmly on top as Walsall struggled to create much going forward. Moments before the break, the Saddlers almost found an opening when Isaiah Osbourne sent a teasing cross in towards Amadou Bakayoko, but Alnwick was first to the ball and prevented the shot.

Three additional minutes were added at the end of the first forty five, just as Le Fondre found an opening to send low eighteen yard effort goal-wards, which Etheridge was on hand to claim. The remainder of the first half passed without real incident and the teams left the field with Walsall trailing by three-goals-to-one at the break.


After an extended half-time, as one of the match officials received medical attention, the teams returned to the field unchanged and Erhun Oztumer got the second half underway, with the Saddlers looking to get back into the game. Just two minutes in, they almost found a breakthrough as Bolton 'keeper, Alnwick, slipped, giving Bakayoko time to take the ball round him, but the tight angle prevented the Walsall forward finding the target. A good start to the half for the visitors.

Not content with their two goal lead, Bolton looked to add to their tally; Andrew Taylor firing over from twenty yards in the forty eighth minute, and moments later, Liam Trotter seeing a right-footed effort from outside the box blocked. In the fifty fourth minute, Taylor also saw an effort blocked from distance as the hosts continued to press.

In the fifty seventh minute, Andrew Taylor became the first player to receive a caution for a poorly timed tackle on Jason McCarthy.

Two minutes before the hour mark, the Saddlers looked to have got a goal back, as Florent Cuvelier appeared to turn a low cross over the line before Mark Beevers hooked the ball away, but the referee deemed the ball to have been cleared off the line and the game continued with the hosts two-goal cushion intact. Unlucky for Walsall who looked to have the ball a yard or so over the line.

Bolton continued to seek opportunities to further extend their lead, and in the sixty eighth minute a Filipe Morais cross was side-footed wide by Le Fondre. Moments later, back at the other end, the Saddlers won a corner, which was played in to Oztumer who fired a right-footed volley goal-wards, which Alnwick claimed.

In the seventy second minute, Bolton made the first change of the afternoon, as Adam Le Fondre made way for Chris Long. Two minutes later, Madine found himself through on goal, but was unable to beat Etheridge who parried the ball away to keep out the powerful shot.

Seventy six minutes in, the hosts made their second change of the afternoon, as Liam Trotter was replaced by Tom Thorpe. Two minutes after the Bolton substitution, the Saddlers made a double change, replacing Joe Edwards and Amadou Bakayoko with Simeon Jackson and Will Randall.

The referee had a busy time as we raced into the final ten minutes, with Chambers being shown a yellow card in the seventy ninth minute for a foul on Long. He was joined in the referee's notebook two minutes later, by Cuvelier for a foul on Madine and in the eighty third minute, Jay Spearing joined them for a foul on Chambers.

In the eighty fourth minute, Bolton saw a goal disallowed, as Long fired the ball into the net after the official had raised his flag. Three minutes later, Long fired a thunderous effort into the top corner from a tight angle and this time the assistants flag stayed down, seeing Bolton extend their lead to three.

In the eighty ninth minute, the hosts made their third and final change of the afternoon, Felipe Morais the man to make way for Viv Solomon-Otabor.

Four additional minutes were awarded at the end of the ninety, but both teams appeared content to run the time down, with the match all but over by this point, and the referee's eventually called time on a disappointing defeat on the road for Walsall.

GOALS | Madine (15'), O'Connor OG (26'), Trotter (30'), Long (86') - Oztumer (4')
ATTENDANCE | 13,610 (886 Walsall)
REFEREE | Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)

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