MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 West Bromwich Albion 2 MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 West Bromwich Albion 2
MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

MATCH REPORT | Walsall 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

Walsall continued to build towards the upcoming campaign as they took on West Bromwich Albion at Banks's Stadium.
On Wednesday evening Jon Whitney's Saddlers continued their preparations for the 2017/18 campaign as they took on a West Bromwich Albion XI at Banks's Stadium. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

The Saddlers started the game brightly, with Kieron Morris looking to find an early advantage for the side, when just a minute in he headed an effort goal-wards, but he was unable to keep the attempt on target and the ball sailed wide of the post without troubling Boaz Myhill in the West Bromwich Albion goal.

The pace slowed following the early Walsall attack, with both sides looking to settle into the game. Seven minutes in, the visitors created their first chance of the evening, when Hal Robson-Kanu and Tyler Roberts combined well, allowing James McClean to break down the left. McClean's floating cross into the box looked good, but Saddlers shot-stopper, Mark Gillespie was able to claim.

Both sides looked comfortable on the ball and enjoyed some good spells of possession in and around the midfield area. In the eleventh minute, the Saddlers broke forward, a move which culminated in Florent Cuvelier firing a powerful, twenty yard effort in on goal, but a lucky bounce allowed Myhill to clear. Walsall looked the most likely to open the scoring, getting forward again as we reached the quarter hour mark. Erhun Oztumer curling a left-footed shot in from just outside the area, but Myhill was again well placed to beat the ball away.

Walsall continued to play well as the match continued, moving the ball with ease and defending solidly when required. They continued to get forward too, with Adam Chambers enjoying a rare effort on goal in the twenty sixth minute, but Myhill was again alert to tip the Walsall captain's twenty five yard shot over the bar.

The Saddlers defences were put to the test ten minutes before the break, when a delightful ball over the top put Jonathan Leko through on goal, but Gillespie and Luke Leahy combined well to clear the danger. Leko was involved again moments later, putting Robson-Kanu through on goal as the visitors looked to find a cheeky advantage before half-time. Fortunately for Walsall, the Albion strikers eighteen yard effort missed the target, rattling the crossbar.

The teams headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied. The Saddlers having enjoyed the better of the first half, with some good late efforts coming from their opponents too.


Walsall made their first change of the evening as the teams returned to the field for the second half, introducing Callum Cockerill-Mollett in place of Luke Leahy. It was West Brom who saw the first chance of the half, but Dara O'shea's long-range effort was blocked. Moments later, in the fifty third minute, the visitors were more fortunate when a scramble in the box following a corner saw the ball fall to Sean Donnellan who turned the ball home to break the deadlock.

Ten minutes after the opening goal, the Saddlers almost drew level, but a diving Myhill got just enough to the ball to tip Cuvelier's thunderous thirty yard effort away. The match became something of a midfield battle, both sides enjoying good spells of possession, with neither really able to create much going forward.

With twenty minutes still to play, the West Brom bench opted to make a change to their line-up, introducing Kyle Edwards in place of Tyler Roberts. The Saddlers bench also took the opportunity to make a change, bringing on Amadou Bakayoko in place of Simeon Jackson. Two minutes later, the hosts made a further substitution, with Joe Edwards making way for Maziar Kouhyar.

Seventy eight minutes in, some superb build-up play from Kouhyar and Cockerill-Mollett set up Bakayoko who fired the ball home, assisted by a Chris Brunt deflection, drawing the sides level.

Moments after the goal, the Saddlers made another change to their line-up with Mitchel Candlin taking the place of Erhun Oztumer for the final ten minutes.

Keen to regain their earlier advantage, the visitors pushed forwards, but the Saddlers defences stood firm, Wilson denying Robson-Kanu a shot on goal with a stunning late challenge in the eighty first minute. That would be Wilson's last real contribution to the game as the Saddlers made their final change of the evening in the eighty fourth minute, introducing Kory Roberts in his place.

The visitors continued to press as the game headed into its final moments, and they were rewarded just two minutes from time, when a through pass from Leko found Robson-Kanu who chipped the ball over Gillespie, putting his side back into the lead. The Saddlers tried until the last to find a second equaliser, but a late corner, in the final minute, was blazed over by Candlin and the referee called an end to the game with the hosts still trailing.

GOALS | Bakayoko (79') - Donnellan (53'), Robson-Kanu (88')
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