Saturday, 4 March 2017

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 2 Oldham Athletic 0

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 2 Oldham Athletic 0

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

The Latics got the game underway and just three minutes in the visitors had a chance to score when Rob Hunt crossed the ball in to Aaron Amandi-Holloway, but the forward was unable to connect properly with the ball and the scores remained level. It took the Saddlers just two minutes to respond with a chance of their own, Jason McCarthy cutting inside from the right before firing an effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box. A bright start from both teams as they looked to find an early advantage.

Eleven minutes in, the Saddlers tested Latics 'keeper Connor Ripley, who did well to claim the ball ahead of Simeon Jackson who looked favourite to get on the end of a Joe Edwards cross inside the box.  Moments later, at the other end, it was Neil Etheridge's turn to make a save to keep out an Aiden O'Neill effort from the edge of the box, which the Walsall 'keeper was able to do with ease. Etheridge was again called upon in the fifteenth minute to deny Hunt whose whipped cross almost caught the Saddlers shot-stopper out, before he saved just short of the line.

In the sixteenth minute, the visiting side were reduced to ten men, the referee with little choice but to send Lee Croft off for a dangerous, late challenge on McCarthy. Thankfully for the Saddlers, after a brief spell of treatment, McCarthy was able to continue.

The visitors adjusted their formation, and continued to search for an opening goal, which they almost found in the twentieth minute when Amadi-Holloway headed the ball into the path of Tope Obadeyi, whose effort from the edge of the box sailed over the crossbar without troubling Etheridge. The Saddlers, keen to make their man advantage pay, soon had the ball back in the Latics box, courtesy of a fine delivery from McCarthy which led to a scramble in the penalty area and the ball being turned towards goal by an Oldham defender, before Ripley managed to get his hands to it and hold. The Saddlers unlucky not to have gotten someone to the ball first.

The match continued as something of a midfield battle for a time, with little goal-scoring threat from either side. Half an hour in, Kieron Morris found himself in shooting range on the edge of the box, but his twenty five yard, right-footed effort sailed wide of the post without troubling the Latics 'keeper. Moments later, Isaiah Osbourne found himself in a similar position, and fired a speculative effort high over the bar. A much brighter spell for the home side as they looked to make the visitors pay for the earlier sending off.

The home side continued to dominate, and thirty six minutes in, Eoghan O'Connell picked out Morris in the box with a superb cross, but the shot towards goal was scuffed and the ball sailed wide of the mark. Moments later, Erhun Oztumer picked out Morris just six yards from goal. Morris' effort on goal was a good one, which drew a superb, point blank save from Ripley to keep the scores level.

Brian Wilson became the first player to receive a yellow card during the game, for a foul on Joe Edwards in the thirty eighth minute. The resulting free-kick was whipped towards the box by Edwards, but Amadi-Holloway was first to it and headed the ball clear. Two minutes later, the Saddlers were awarded another free-kick, in a dangerous position, for a foul by O'Neill on Osbourne. Oztumer curled a twenty five yard effort over the wall, but Ripley was on hand to gather.

As we headed towards half-time, Oztumer was again involved, playing the ball to Osbourne who fired a low effort towards goal from eighteen yards out, but Ripley again on hand to gather, keeping his side level. Two additional minutes were awarded at the end of the first half, but neither side was able to create anything further and the sides went in level at the break.


The Saddlers got the match back underway for the second half, with both sides unchanged. The home team started the half brightly, with Edwards picking out Oztumer in the penalty area just four minutes in, but the effort on goal sailed past the far post without troubling the Latics 'keeper. Moments later, McCarthy played a low ball across goal, which Edwards was just unable to get to.

In the fifty second minute, Paul Green came off worst from an aerial battle, and went down clutching his head. After a few minutes of treatment, he was able to continue and play got back underway. The Latics then won a free-kick on the edge of the box in the fifty fifth minute, for a foul on Amadi-Holloway. Obadeyi took the set-piece, playing a one-two with Green before curling a left-footed shot in on goal, which clipped the outside of the post on it's way out.

In the fifty ninth minute, Neil Etheridge was added to the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for preventing the visitors taking a quick throw in.

The visiting side continued to press, with Amadi-Holloway crossing the ball in, drawing a parried save from Etheridge, before the rebound was picked up by Green in front of goal, but the Saddlers defences managed to scramble the ball clear. In the sixty third minute, Oldham won a corner, when an Obadeyi effort on goal was deflected behind. The Saddlers defences stood firm and cleared the danger, allowing their side to break. Jackson did well to get the ball into the penalty area, but Ripley came out to smother before the Walsall man could get a shot away.

In the sixty fourth minute, Oldham made their first change of the game, introducing Ousmane Fane in place of Paul Green.

The visitors were awarded a free-kick in the sixty fifth minute, for a pull back on Amadi-Holloway by James O'Connor, twenty five yards from goal. Obadeyi took the set-piece, but his long-range effort sailed harmlessly over the bar.

In the sixty nineth minute, the Walsall bench opted to make their first change of the afternoon, introducing Amadou Bakayoko in place of Joe Edwards. An attacking change as they continued to search for the first goal of the game.

With twenty minutes still to play, the visiting side were awarded a free-kick on the right hand side, for a handball offence. Obadeyi whipped the ball into the box, but Etheridge was able to gather and sent his side away with the ball. The Saddlers got more into the game as their man advantage began to show, and in the seventy second minute they were unlucky not to score when Oztumer danced his way into the box before seeing his shot blocked. Morris picked up the ball on the edge of the box and fired an effort in on goal, which sailed wide of Ripley's post.

The home side continued to press and their pressure was rewarded in the seventy eight minute when the referee awarded them a penalty when Peter Clarke tripped Jackson in the box. Oztumer stepped forward to take the spot-kick and sent Ripley the wrong way to give his side the lead with eleven minutes to play.

In the eighty second minute, the visiting side saw their team depleted further when Brian Wilson was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for an off the ball incident with Bakayoko, who was also booked in the aftermath.

With seven minutes still to play, the Saddlers made their second change of the afternoon, as Simeon Jackson made way for Andreas Makris, as they looked to make their two man advantage pay.

With just four minutes left to play, Oldham made a change of their own as their players tired; Lee Erwin the man to come on in place of Tope Obadeyi who receives a standing ovation from the travelling supporters following a busy afternoon.

Five additional minutes were awarded at the end of the regulation ninety, and three minutes into them, the Saddlers put the game to bed. Oztumer playing in Bakayoko, who curled a superb shot into the top corner from close range, ensuring all three points were added to the Walsall tally. A difficult afternoon for both sides, but the Saddlers ultimately able to make their advantage pay once their opposition tired.

HT | 0-0
GOALS | Oztumer PEN (79'), Bakayoko (90+3')
ATTENDANCE | 6,003 (616 Oldham)
REFEREE | John Brooks (Leicestershire)

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