Saturday, 4 February 2017

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 2 Northampton Town 1
Saturday, 4 February 2017
MATCH REPORT | Walsall 2 Northampton Town 1
Saturday, 4 February 2017

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 2 Northampton Town 1

Avatar  by Admin    5:33 pm    Saturday, 4 February 2017
On Saturday afternoon the Saddlers played host to Northampton Town 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 Northampton Town 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 took time to settle into the game. In the third minute, Amadou Bakayoko was found in space out on the left, but his ball into the box was deflected through to Northampton Town 'keeper, Adam Smith, but overall the opening ten minutes were a pretty dreary affair with neither side able to create much.

Twelve minutes in, Bakayoko combined well with Jason McCarthy on the right, but the move culminated in Bakayoko's cross into the box taking a deflection straight into the waiting arms of Smith. Keeping up the pressure, the Saddlers won the first corner of the game moments later. Erhun Oztumer delivered the ball into the box, where it was played on by Eoghan O'Connell to Matt Preston, whose shot cannoned off the base of the post. Unlucky for the home team who were inches away from the opening the scoring.

The visitors were finally able to get the ball up to the other end after a decent spell of Walsall pressure and in the twenty third minute, won a free-kick out wide on the right. Matt Taylor played the ball into the box, where Neil Etheridge attempted to gather, but dropped the ball and John-Joe O'Toole was on hand to turn the ball home. A poor goal for the Walsall 'keeper to concede under little pressure.

The Saddlers looked for a quick reply, but were unable to get anything through on the Northampton goal. As we reached the half-hour mark, Walsall won another corner, which was delivered by Oztumer to McCarthy, whose shot, directed towards the far-post, went wide.

The match continued with little threat to either goal. Thirty six minutes in, Northampton captain, Marc Richards, mis-timed a tackle on Florent Cuvelier and became the first player to receive a yellow card. The Walsall free-kick was played into the box, but was missed by Preston and James O'Connor on it's way through, before it deflected out. The resulting corner was picked up by McCarthy who headed the ball goal-wards, but Smith was able to gather with ease.

Two additional minutes were awarded at the end of the first half and the Saddlers ramped up the pressure as they sought an equaliser before the break, but clearances from Taylor and David Buchanan kept their sides slender lead intact at the break.


The Saddlers got the match back underway after the break, but it was the visitors who enjoyed the brighter start to the half, with O'Toole slicing an effort wide of goal from the edge of the box, just two minutes in. In the forty ninth minute. Northampton were forced to make their first substitution of the game, as Zander Diamond was forced off with a calf injury. The visitors opting to bring Rod McDonald on in his place.

In the fifty first minute, the home side created their first chance of the half, pressuring Neal Eardley into a clearance at the back-post to win a corner. The flag-kick was taken by Oztumer, who delivered the ball into the box where the ball was flicked on by O'Connell sending it out wide for a goal-kick. The Saddlers kept up the pressure as they sought a route back into the game, looking the much livelier team.

As we reached the hour mark, McCarthy burst into the box following a surging run up-field, but Smith came off his line to claim the ball. The Cobblers wasted little time in working the ball up to the other end, where they won a corner, which was delivered into the box by Taylor before the referee spotted a foul on O'Connor, bringing a halt to the move.

Sixty two minutes in, Walsall made their first change of the afternoon, Simeon Jackson coming on in place of a busy Amadou Bakayoko. Two minutes after the change, the Saddlers won a corner on the left, which was played into the box by Cuvelier, where Preston was waiting at the far post to turn the ball home. A much deserved goal for the Walsall defender.

The game opened up a little following the equaliser as both teams sought a winner, whilst trying to protect at least the point. In the sixty sixth minute, Keshi Anderson found himself in space on the edge of the box and curled a lively right-footed effort in from twenty yards, the ball dipped but fortunately for the Saddlers, it cleared the bar, going harmlessly out for a goal-kick. Moments later, the visitors had another chance to regain their lead, as a one-two between McDonald and Buchanan set up Richards, who headed the ball inches wide of the post.

In the sixty seventh minute, the visitors made their second change of the afternoon, as Keshi Anderson made way for Michael Smith for his Cobblers debut. Moments after the change, McCarthy crossed the ball into the box from the right, where it was picked up by Isaiah Osbourne who saw his effort saved by Smith, before Oztumer turned his defender and slotted the ball home to complete the comeback.

With twenty minutes still to play, the Cobblers won a corner when a shot from O'Toole was deflected behind. Taylor played the ball in, but the Saddlers defences were on hand to head the ball away for a throw. The  visitors forced a second corner, on the right, which was played to Lewin Nyatanga, whose effort from close-range was kept out by Etheridge.

Seventy five minutes in, the Saddlers won a free-kick twenty five yards from goal, for a foul on Joe Edwards, but Oztumer curled his left-footed effort just wide of Smith's post. The visitors then made their final change of the game, with Hiram Boateng making way for Harry Beautyman.

The visitors piled on the pressure as they sought a route back into the game, and seventy seven minutes in they almost found one, as a shot from Luke Williams was blocked behind for a corner. Taylor delivered the ball into box, where O'Toole turned it goal-wards. The ensuing scramble in the box culminated in the ball coming back to Williams, whose shot deflected through to Etheridge who claimed.

The Saddlers second change of the afternoon saw George Dobson replace Isaiah Osbourne for the final ten minutes. The visitors kept up the pressure following the change, with Taylor flicking the ball on to McDonald who attempted an over-head kick, which was blocked, before the ball fell to Buchanan who picked out Michael Smith in the box, but the debutant headed the ball over the bar.

In the eighty fourth minute, the hosts made their final change of the game, Florent Cuvelier the man to make way for Scott Laird, as they looked to hang onto their lead for the final minutes. The final six minutes of the ninety were a quieter affair as the Saddlers defended their lead, keeping possession well and limiting their opponents chances.

Six additional minutes were awarded at the end of the regulation ninety, and in the fourth of them, Walsall captain, Adam Chambers, tripped Richards in the box, gifting Northampton a late route back into the game as the referee pointed to the spot. Richards stepped up to take the penalty, but blazed the ball high over the bar, seeing his sides chances of a point slip through his fingers. Walsall clung on and finished the match as two-goal-to-one winners, taking themselves to within touching distance of the Play-Off places.

GOALS | Preston (64'), Oztumer (69') - O'Toole (23')
ATTENDANCE | 4,954 (941 Cobblers)
MAN of the MATCH | Jason McCarthy
REFEREE | Robert Jones (Merseyside)

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