Saturday, 1 April 2017


MATCH REPORT | Bradford City 1 Walsall 0

5:02 pm Saturday, 1 April 2017
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled North and took on Bradford City in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Saturday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers travelled North and took on Bradford City in the latest Sky Bet League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

Bradford City got off to a good start, with Charlie Wyke almost breaking into the area within the opening two minutes, but Matt Preston was alert for the Saddlers and did well to get across to clear the danger. Both sides then took some time to settle into the game, with much of the action centred in midfield as both teams enjoyed spells of possession without creating anything going forward.

In the twelfth minute, the referee issued the first caution of the game, booking Romain Vincelot for a pull-back on Kieron Morris. The resulting free-kick was turned behind for a corner, which Joe Edwards swung in to the box. The ball eventually fell to James O'Connor, who drilled a low cross across the face of goal, but his teammates were unable to get to it to turn it home.

Shortly after the quarter hour mark, a neat counter-attack set Morris free to burst into the box, before he fired an effort goalwards. Vincelot was on hand for the hosts to deflect the effort away from goal, leading to a second corner for the Saddlers, which Morris delivered. Scott Laird got his head to the ball but, stretching, he turned the ball wide. Walsall continued to press and almost created a chance in the nineteenth minute when Jason McCarthy finished a lovely move with a low cross from the byline, which was intercepted and cleared before it could reach it's intended target. Some good play on display from the visitors, but unable to find a way through the home defences.

In the twentieth minute, Andreas Makris joined Vincelot in the referee's notebook, receiving a yellow card for simulation. The official not letting much slide in the early stages.

The hosts enjoyed a good spell of possession as we headed past the halfway point of the first half. In the twenty fourth minute they called upon Neil Etheridge to stop an effort from Alex Jones from a Mark Marshall delivery into the box The Walsall 'keeper making light work of holding the ball. The hosts continued to press, but their move culminated in Billy Clarke firing a right-footed effort wide of the mark. The match was an open affair, and the Saddlers soon had the ball back at the other end again, where Makris fired a fierce effort in from twenty five yards, which sailed inches wide of Colin Doyle's post.

As we reached the half hour mark, a lovely move from Morris played Makris in on goal, but the forwards first-time effort was pushed around the post by the Bradford 'keeper, with the resulting corner coming to nothing. The game opened up a little as we headed rapidly towards the break. Makris was almost played in ten minutes before half-time by Isaiah Osbourne, moments before the hosts got forward at the other end, where Nathaniel Knight-Percival saw two efforts blocked inside the box from a short free-kick, eventually winning his side their first corner of the game, which resulted in James Meredith firing over from close range.

Five minutes from the interval, the hosts enjoyed arguably the best chance of half, when Tony McMahon's cross was spilled by Etheridge, presenting Jones with an opportunity to tap home, but fortunately for the Saddlers, O'Connor was on hand to spare the 'keeper's blushes, clearing Jones' effort off the line. Some exceptional defending on display to keep the game tied heading into the break.


The match got back underway, with both sides remaining unchanged after the break. The game continued as an open affair, with Etheridge doing well, four minutes into the half, to hold onto a Clarke effort at the far post, moments before the Saddlers won a corner at the other end. Morris swung the ball into the box from the flag-kick, where it was met by Preston, whose headed effort had a little too much on it, sailing wide of the far post without troubling Doyle in the Bradford goal.

Seven minutes into the half, the home side felt they should have been awarded a penalty, claiming handball when a headed effort from Clarke hit Preston. The officials were unmoved by the appeals and a corner was awarded, which Marshall crossed in low for Wyke, whose goal-ward effort was cleared off the line by Preston, who did well to turn the ball behind. The resulting corner came to nothing as Vincelot rose highest but headed the ball wide of the mark.

Bradford's continued pressure in front of goal eventually paid off, in the fifty eighth minute, when the Saddlers defences failed to deal with a low cross from Marshall, allowing Clarke to power the ball into the roof of the net to gift his side the lead.

The match became drawn after the goal, as the Saddlers sought opportunities to draw level, whilst the home team appeared happy to sit back. Eight minutes after finding the advantage for his team, goalscorer, Clarke, was cautioned for a tripping Joe Edwards.

The visitors struggled to find a reply to Clarke's goal, and in the seventy fourth minute, the bench took the decision to substitute Andreas Makris, bringing on Simeon Jackson in his place for the final quarter of an hour. The hosts also took the opportunity to make a change, introducing Timothee Dieng in place of Billy Clarke.

Moments after the changes, the hosts almost doubled their advantage, a long ball from Meredith being chased by Wyke's, who dragged his left-footed shot inches wide of the far post. A golden opportunity to all but put the game out of reach. The visitors were quick to respond with an effort of their own, as Morris broke into the box before firing a left-footed effort goal-wards, but Doyle responded well to turn the ball away.

In the eighty second minute, the hosts made their second change of the afternoon, replacing Alex Jones with Nicky Law, before the Saddlers made their second change just two minutes later. Jon Whitney handing Mitchel Candlin his first appearance in the first-team, as Walsall captain, Adam Chambers, made way.

The final moments of the game were a quiet affair, with neither goalkeeper really being tested. Four additional minutes were added at the end of the regulation ninety, but little use was made of them and the full-time whistle was blown, with Bradford's solitary goal enough to secure all three points. The result effectively ending the Saddlers hopes of promotion this season.

HT | 0-0
GOALS | B.Clarke (58')
ATTENDANCE | 17,880 (205 Walsall)
REFEREE | Michael Salisbury (Lancashire)

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