Friday, 14 April 2017

@BescotBanter 5:06 pm Friday, 14 April 2017
MATCH REPORT | Shrewsbury Town 1 Walsall 1

MATCH REPORT | Shrewsbury Town 1 Walsall 1

On Good Friday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers returned to action as they took on near-rivals Shrewsbury Town in the latest League One fixture of the season. We were among those in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Good Friday afternoon Jon Whitney's Saddlers returned to action as they took on near-rivals Shrewsbury Town in the latest League One fixture of the season. We were among those in attendance, and our match report is below.

Shrewsbury Town started the match brightly, almost creating a goal from the kick-off, with Stefan Payne taking advantage of a mistake by Eoghan O'Connell to get behind the Walsall defences and fire a shot in, which, fortunately for the Saddlers sailed just wide of the post. The frenetic pace continued as Walsall countered with an early chance of their own inside the opening two minutes, when Amadou Bakayoko found himself in space on the left, before breaking into the box and firing a low effort in, which found the side-netting.

The game continued apace with both sides enjoying good spells of possession, but struggling to break through their opposition defences, until the tenth minute, when some good work from Alex Rodman and Junior Brown culminated in the latter curling a cross in which was turned behind by James O'Connor. The resulting corner came to nothing, as Louis Dodds fouled O'Connell resulting in a free-kick for the visitors.

Walsall were quick to get the ball back to the other end, where they won a corner of their own, which Kieron Morris swung in, finding O'Connell who headed wide at the far post. The Saddlers won a second corner moments later, which was delivered to the back-post, where Jayson Leutwiler was able to collect.

Quarter of an hour in, Isaiah Osbourne was dispossessed, allowing Shrewsbury to break through Bryn Morris and Payne. The ball eventually finding its way to Shaun Whalley who fired an effort straight at Walsall 'keeper, Craig MacGillivray, who held comfortably. The game continued as something of a midfield battle, with neither side able to create anything of note, until the twentieth minute when Walsall really should have opened the scoring. A huge chance going begging as Jason McCarthy broke into the box from the right, before passing the ball back for Bakayoko who side-footed an effort inches wide of the post. A poor effort from the Walsall striker who should have given his side an early advantage.

The Shrews were quick to get the ball back up to the other end, where a deep cross from Whalley found Louis Dodds, who looked to be in with a header, but some excellent defending from Matt Preston kept the ball out and the sides on level terms. The resulting corner saw Whalley swing an inviting cross in to the far post, where Aristote Nsiala rose highest to get his head to the ball, but his effort on goal sailed just wide of the mark.

The game returned to midfield, as both sides looked to build further forays forward, which the Shrews did in the twenty eighth minute, when Payne found a way past O'Connor before firing a powerful shot in, which MacGillivray was able to claim at the second time of asking. Few chances being created as both sides defended well to limit their opposition.

In the thirty fifth minute, the Saddlers found a breakthrough, when Morris made a late run into the box to get his head on the end of a lovely cross from Joe Edwards, stooping to turn a downward header into the net to put his side in-front.

Keen to extend their lead before the break, the Saddlers continued to press with momentum firmly on their side. Just three minutes after taking the lead, they should have doubled their advantage when a cut back from Edwards found Bakayoko who had space to fire a right-footed shot in from the centre of the box, but Leutwiler was alert to block. The Shrews 'keeper then did well to tip over the follow up from Morris, with the resulting corner coming to nothing. Much better play from the Saddlers, but some excellent defending keeping the hosts in it.

The final few minutes of the half were a somewhat quieter affair with few chances for either side, and the referee called an end to the half, after one additional minute, with the Saddlers taking a slender one-goal lead into the break.


Shrewsbury made their first change as the sides returned to the field for the second half, with Stephen Humphrys on in place of Louis Dodds. The hosts made a bright start to the half, winning a corner inside the opening two minutes, which the Saddlers defences were able to deal with, before Jack Grimmer and Whalley combined well in the fiftieth minute to set up Payne, who took advantage of a slip from O'Connell to get into the box, where MacGillivray was on hand to get down and save the low effort.

Fifty four minutes in, Gary Deegan became the first player to receive a caution when he caught Walsall captain, Adam Chambers, with a poor challenge.

The Saddlers went close to doubling their lead in the fifty sixth minute, when a sweet flick from Bakayoko put Morris in position to break into the box, but the midfielders low, right-footed, shot from an acute angle sailed just wide of the post. The visitors continued to press, and two minutes after Morris' shot, Ossbourne went close with a headed effort from the centre of the box, which made for an easy save for Leutwiler in the centre of his goal.

With an hour played, Town opted to make their second change of the afternoon, with Alex Rodman making way for Freddie Ladapo for the final half an hour. Six minutes after the hosts change, the Walsall bench made a double change, which saw the introduction of Florent Cuvelier and Simeon Jackson in the places of Andreas Makris and Kieron Morris.

After a quiet spell, the hosts broke forward through Morris and Whalley who combined well to set up Payne at the back-post. A simple header from Payne was enough to draw the sides level, with some poor defending on display from the Saddlers during the move.

Keen to take advantage of their momentum following the goal, Town continued to press, and they almost found a second fifteen minutes from time, when Payne drove into the box before passing to Morris but his effort on goal went wide, assisted by Ladapo. Moments later, the hosts had the ball in the back of the net when Ladapo turned an effort home, but the linesman's flag was raised for offside and the goal was disallowed.

The momentum firmly behind them heading into the final minutes, Shrewsbury continued to press, winning a multitude of corners, none of which they were able to take advantage of, but a counter attack from the Saddlers almost caught them off-guard in the eighty second minute when Jackson almost set up Bakayoko, but Leutwiler was alert and came off his line well to gather.

With five minutes of the game remaining, the ball fell to Deegan as the hosts continued to press, but MacGillivray was on hand to save the twenty five yard effort, keeping the sides level. The Saddlers managed to clear the ball out of the danger area briefly, in the eighty sixth minute, allowing McCarthy to get a shot away from the edge of the box, but Leutwiler was able to hold the well-struck effort. Both 'keepers doing well to keep the scores tied as we headed into the final moments.

In the eighty eighth minute, the Walsall bench opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, replacing Amadou Bakayoko with Mitchel Candlin for the final few minutes of the game. Moments later, the hosts made their final change of the game, introducing Ryan Yates  in place of Stefan Payne.

Four additional minutes were awarded at the end of the regulation ninety, but both sides appeared to content to take a point from the game, with little further action, and the referee brought an end to the match with the sides level at one-goal-apiece. Shrewsbury probably the happier with the point, whilst the Saddlers disappointingly let another lead slip.

HT | 0-1
GOALS | Payne (70') - K.Morris (35')
ATTENDANCE | 6,801 (1,144 Walsall)
REFEREE | Nigel Miller (County Durham)

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