MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Port Vale 1 MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Port Vale 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Port Vale 1

Walsall played their penultimate fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign on Tuesday evening as they took on Port Vale at Banks's Stadium.
Walsall played their penultimate fixture of the 2016/17 League One campaign on Tuesday evening as they took on relegation-threatened Port Vale at Banks's Stadium. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

Port Vale got the game underway, as they set about their task of securing at least a point to ensure that their relegation battle continue into the final game of the season. The match got off to a quiet and scrappy start, with both teams taking time to settle. It wasn't until the tenth minute that we saw the first effort on goal, with Craig MacGillivray making an easy save to deny Chris Eagles.

Thirteen minutes in, the visitors created a second chance, when a cross from Eagles found Jerome Thomas, who played the ball into the box for Vale captain, Sam Foley, who fired wide with an acrobatic, overhead kick. Three minutes later, another cross from Eagles was met by Remie Streete who got his head to ball, sending his effort inches wide of the post. Moments later, the Saddlers won the first corner of the match, when a low cross from Jason McCarthy was turned behind by Ryan Taylor, but the hosts were unable to make use of the flag-kick. A definite end-of-season feel about the game, both on and off the pitch.

After a quiet five minutes, the visitors got the ball forward again and, capitalising on a mistake from Matt Preston, Thomas played Dan Turner into the box, where he slipped whilst shooting, sending his effort well wide of the upright. The Saddlers then saw their first real chance of the game, in the twenty fifth minute, when Maz Kouhyar set up Kieron Morris, who rattled the crossbar with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box. Kouhyar then attempted a second cross into the box, which was deflected by the visiting defences, with the resulting corner being turned wide by McCarthy.

The Saddlers continued in the ascendancy, getting forward again in the twenty eighth minute, when McCarthy beat his man and cut the ball back to Morris, who fired an effort goal-wards, which was deflected behind. The resulting corner saw Joe Edwards set up James O'Connor, whose headed effort called Vale 'keeper, Leonardo Fasan, into action to make his first real save of the game.

As we headed past the half hour mark, the first yellow card of the evening was produced, awarded to Kory Roberts for a late challenge on Sam Foley.

The match quietened again following the brief spell of action, with little further action of note during the final fifteen minutes of the half. The Saddlers did win a corner moments before the break, with Morris and McCarthy combining well to create it, but the danger was easily cleared by the Vale defences. On the brink of half-time, Port Vale should have opened the scoring, but Turner's close range effort sailed harmlessly over the bar, and the referee called the half-time interval with the match still tied, no first half goals for either side. Not exactly a classic for the spectator thus far.


Walsall got the second half underway, with both sides unchanged. The second half got off to a brighter start than the first, with the visiting side winning a corner just two minutes in, when a shot from Eagles was deflected behind, but the Saddlers defences were alert and cleared the danger. Three minutes later, Walsall created a chance themselves, but captain, Adam Chambers drilled his long range effort wide of the mark, without troubling the man between the sticks.

The Saddlers continued to press as the second half wore on, winning a corner in the fifty first minute when the ball was put behind by Scott Tanser, before winning a second flag-kick moments later when Danny Pugh turned the first behind, but the hosts were unable to make use of them. Unperturbed, the Saddlers got the ball forward again moments later, setting Amadou Bakayoko up, but the strikers effort sailed over the bar.

Continuing to dominate, the Saddlers came again in the fifty fifth minute, a lovely ball from George Dobson setting McCarthy away, who in turn got the ball to Morris, who worked his way into the box before sending an effort in on goal, which was deflected behind. There was a foul in the box during the resulting corner, allowing Vale to clear the danger momentarily. It wasn't long before Walsall had the ball back in-front of the Vale goal though, and but for a superb save from Fasan, they would have taken the lead in the fifty eighth minute, when Bakayoko found himself through one on one.

As we headed past the hour mark, Bakayoko had another chance to open the scoring, but his overhead kick sailed wide of the post without troubling Fasan. The visitors finally managed to clear their lines and get the ball up to the other end in the sixty third minute, with Eagles setting up Foley with a lovely cross from the right, but Foley's six yard, headed effort sailed wide of MacGillivray's upright when he really should have done better.

In the sixty fourth minute, the visitors made the first change of the game, introducing JJ Hooper in place of Dan Turner.

The hosts saw another chance go beginning, moments after the Vale change, with Kouhyar and Bakayoko combining well to set up Morris, whose twenty yard effort sailed wide of the mark. Moments later, with the ball back at the other end, Vale won a corner, when a cross from Eagles was turned behind, but they were unable to make use of it and the ball trickled harmlessly out for a goal kick.

With sixty eight minutes on the clock, the Walsall bench opted to make their first change of the evening;  Maz Kouhyar making way for Tobias Hayles-Docherty, who came on to make his first team debut, with twenty minutes to impress. Moments after the Saddlers change, Vale made their second change of the game, introducing Sam Kelly in place of Jerome Thomas.

The game settled into a midfield battle following the changes, with neither side creating anything of note for a good fifteen minutes, during which time, in the eighty third minute, Walsall made their second change, replacing Amadou Bakayoko with Mitchel Candlin.

Shortly after the Saddlers substitution, the visitors created a chance; a cross from Eagles being only partially cleared, allowing Billy Reeves to collect and fire a low effort goal-wards from the edge of the box, but the ball sailed wide without troubling MacGillivray in the Walsall goal. Moments later, Eagles attempted a shot himself, firing a right-footed effort into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box to put his side ahead, with just five minutes left to play.

That was to be Chris Eagles last touch of the match, as the midfielder was then substituted in the eighty seventh minute, for Andre Bikey.

Three additional minutes were added at the end of the regulation ninety, but time wasting from the visitors limited the hosts opportunities to find an equaliser, and the relegation candidates took all three points back to Vale Park, with all still to play for for them on the final day of the season. A disappointing result for the Saddlers who had enjoyed the better chances throughout the game, but once more, failed to capitalise.

HT | 0-0
GOAL | Eagles (85')
ATTENDANCE | 4,226 (462 Port Vale)
REFEREE | John Busby (Oxfordshire)
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