Tuesday, 18 July 2017

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Aston Villa 0

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Aston Villa 0

Here is our report from the Saddlers' pre-season clash with Championship outfit Aston Villa. Plenty of positives could be taken from the match as Jon Whitney's side continue to build towards the 2017/18 campaign.
On Tuesday evening the Saddlers played host to Aston Villa in their second pre-season fixture ahead of the 2017/18 campaign. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

Aston Villa got the match underway and enjoyed some good early spells of possession. The Saddlers won a free-kick three minutes in, which was taken short to Erhun Oztumer, whose pass into the box was cleared without causing any concern for Sam Johnstone in the Villa goal. Two minutes later, the visitors created the first real chance of the game, when Andre Green ran forty yards before picking out Gabby Agbonlahor in space, but the strikers effort sailed harmlessly over the bar.

Nine minutes in, the visitors won the first corner of the match, after some excellent teamwork culminated in the ball being turned behind by Walsall 'keeper, Mark Gillespie. Henri Lansbury played a fine cross in, which met the head of Jordan Amavi, but Gillespie was alert and pushed the ball away. Moments later, back at the other end, Walsall created their first real chance of the evening, when a lovely ball in found Oztumer twenty yards out, but the effort on goal was dragged wide without troubling the man between the sticks.

As we reached the quarter hour mark, the visitors again found themselves in shooting range, but a decent low cross in from the left-wing from Green was turned wide by Birkir Bjarnason who arrived late at the back post. The Saddlers wasted little time in creating another chance of their own, but Joe Edwards' driven effort from twenty five yards sailed just wide of the post. The hosts continued to press, and eighteen minutes in, Walsall captain, Adam Chambers put Amadou Bakayoko through on goal, but the strikers left-footed effort was wide of the mark.

Both teams enjoyed a few half chances as the match continued, but with little real danger of either side converting. Twenty six minutes in, some lovely play from the visitors culminated in Agbonlahor pulling the ball back to Bjarnason who was in space in the box, but the close range effort made for an easy save for an alert Gillespie.

The Saddlers won a corner in the twenty seventh minute, which Edwards swung in. The ball was met by Johnstone, who cleared only as far as Florent Cuvelier, who picked up the loose ball and began some lovely passing play from his side, which they were ultimately unable to turn into another chance. Four minutes later, the hosts won a second corner, which Oztumer turned into the box, where it was claimed with ease by Johnstone, who set his side away on a quick counter-attack. Bjarnason finished the move with a headed effort on goal, but Gillespie made light work of preventing the goal.

John Terry had the ball in the back of the net in the thirty seventh minute, with a lovely headed effort from a Conor Hourihane corner, but the referee had already blown for a foul.

As we raced towards half-time, the Saddlers created one final chance of the half, with Kieron Morris attempting a long-range shot, which deflected out for a corner. Oztumer played the ball in, but Agbonlahor was alert and cleared the danger. Neither side were able to create any real further chances and the sides headed in to enjoy their half-time refreshments with the game still goalless.


Oztumer got the second half underway, with both sides remaining unchanged. The visitors started the half brightly, winning a corner just three minutes in, but the ball in was too deep. Villa maintained possession and won another corner just a minute later, which was played to Lansbury, who saw a shot blocked, before Amavi picked up the rebound and volleyed over. The visitors continued to press, showcasing some good, patient build-up play, but the Saddlers defences stood firm and limited their chances to speculative efforts from distance.

Some nice play from Walsall as we headed towards the hour mark, culminated in a corner being won. The ball was swung in and easily claimed by Johnstone. The Saddlers then used the break in play to make their first changes of the evening, with Reece Flanagan and Simeon Jackson taking the places of Flo Cuvelier and Amadou Bakayoko for the final half hour.

The game opened up following the Saddlers changes, with both sides looking increasingly keen to secure an opener. Both defences worked well to keep shots to a minimum, but sixty five minutes in, Edwards was able to get a shot away, the ball taking a deflection off Chris Samba on it's way out. The resulting corner was swung in by Oztumer and met with the head of Jon Guthrie, who caught off balance, turned the ball wide.

In the sixty eighth minute, the Saddlers bench opted to make three further chances, as Matt Preston, Liam Kinsella and Maz Kouhyar entered the fray in place of Kieron Morris, Nicky Devlin and James Wilson. The visiting bench also took the opportunity to make some changes to their line-up, with John Terry and Conor Hourihane making way for Scott Hogan and Jake Hayes.

The changes continued in the seventy sixth minute, with the Villa bench opting to bring on Jordan Lyden for the final quarter of an hour in place of Birkir Bjarnason, whilst the Saddlers bench opted to bring on Cameron Peters in place of Erhun Oztumer.

As we headed into the final ten minutes, the visitors made another substitution as they looked to give more of their players a run out; Neil Taylor the man to make way for Ross McCormack. Two minutes later, the Saddlers made further changes themselves, as Kory Roberts and Jordon Sangha took the places of Adam Chambers and Jon Guthrie.

The match continued with few attacks of note, and no real chances being created, heavily disrupted by the large number of substitutions, which continued into the final moments of the game, with Keinan Davis replacing Andre Green in the eighty seventh minute, and Aaron Tshibola taking the place of Henri Lansbury in the final seconds of the game.

Whilst not necessarily the result many would have wanted, the performance should go some way to the easing concerns of some supporters; a confident and attacking first half display particularly pleasing to watch.

ATT | 7,022 (3,310 Aston Villa)
REF | Oliver Langford (West Midlands)

Don't forget, you can join us across social media, we're @BescotBanter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.