MATCH REPORT | Portsmouth 1 Walsall 1

Here is our match report from Saturday afternoon's League One clash between Portsmouth and Walsall.
Walsall were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they took on last season's League Two champions Portsmouth at Fratton Park. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

After a minutes silence in memory of those affected by the tragedy in Barcelona, Portsmouth got the match underway. The Saddlers were quick off the mark, winning a corner in the second minute, which Joe Edwards swung in, only to see it met by Pompey 'keeper, Luke McGee. Just a minute later, Saddlers skipper, Adam Chambers was booked for a late, lunging challenge on Adam May.

Walsall continued to seek an early advantage, with Luke Leahy firing a powerful effort goal-wards in the fifth minute as he latched onto a misplaced pass. Unfortunately, the ball sailed wide of the post without troubling the man between the sticks. Three minutes later, the hosts created their first chance of the afternoon, Gareth Evans firing a beautifully struck, twenty yard effort towards goal, but Walsall shot-stopper, Mark Gillespie was equal to it and held well.

After a lively opening ten minutes, the teams settled a little, the Saddlers looked much the brighter going forwards. Fourteen minutes in, Walsall saw another good chance missed as Kieron Morris dragged a left-footed effort wide from the edge of the box. James Wilson then set up Leahy with a delightful cross in from the right, but the defenders close range header was also wide of the mark.

The early pace slowed, with much of the action centred in the midfield area as the match progressed. In the twenty first minute, the hosts won a corner, which Chambers did well to clear, before a second corner was claimed by Gillespie.

The game continued to lack the early spark, with neither side able to create anything of note as they settled into something of a midfield battle. As we past the half hour mark, Evans picked out the head of Portsmouth captain, Brett Pittman with a well timed right-wing cross, but the Pompey forwards goal-bound header was intercepted by Shaun Donnellan, keeping the sides level.

Thirty six minutes in, the Portsmouth bench were forced to make their first change of the afternoon, after Drew Talbot picked up an injury, which appeared to be to his hamstring. Kyle Bennett was brought on as his replacement.

The teams saw out the first half with no further chances, both teams seemingly happy to reach the break level, which they did after one additional minute had been played.


The sides remained unchanged as the second half got underway. The Saddlers started brightly and it took just two minutes for them to make their mark, a low cross from the right finding an unmarked Leahy, who coolly slotted home at the far post. A superb start to the second half from the visitors.

Looking for a quick reply, Pompey soon had the ball back at the other end, but Bennett could not convert the cross from Pitman, firing well wide from a tricky angle.

The Saddlers looked good in possession, without really threatening the Pompey goal, frustrating their opponents, who struggled to keep the ball or to create anything going forward. Fifty five minutes in, Jon Guthrie joined his captain in the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Lalkovic.

As we reached the hour mark, the hosts did manage to get the ball to the edge of the box, where Bennett was waiting to latch onto a long ball from Kal Naismith, but the Pompey midfielder's effort sailed wide of the post without troubling Gillespie in goal.

In the sixty fourth minute, Nicky Devlin picked up a caution for a late challenge on Jack Whatmough. The hosts then made a double substitution, as Milan Lalkovic and Kal Naismith made way for Curtis Main and Nicke Kabamba.

In the sixty seventh minute, Amadou Bakayoko became the fourth Saddler to pick up a yellow card, booked for a foul on a Burgess. Moments after his caution, the Walsall striker saw a wonderful chance to extend his sides lead thwarted by the legs of McGee, before his follow-up shot was blocked by Burgess. Some good defensive play on show from the hosts.

The Walsall bench opted to bring Florent Cuvelier on for the final twenty minutes, replacing Kieron Morris.

Seventy four minutes into the game, the Walsall 'keeper tripped Kamamba in the box, gifting the hosts a penalty. Brett Pitman stepped up to take the spot-kick and blasted the ball into the corner to bring his side level.

Two minutes later, the Saddlers bench made another change to their line-up, introducing Simeon Jackson in place of Amadou Bakayoko for the final quarter of an hour.

The hosts, buoyed by their equaliser, looked livelier as the match entered the final ten minutes. Pitman almost fired his side into the lead in the eightieth minute, firing a right-footed effort inches wide of the mark. The Pompey captain went close again in the eighty sixth minute, as he latched onto a long pass into the area, but at full stretch he volleyed over. A minute later, Pitman picked up a yellow card, for a foul on Leahy.

Five additional minutes were awarded at the end of a busy forty five, but neither side were able to capitalise and the referee called time with both sides taking a point apiece from the tie. The Saddlers will no doubt feel they were a little unlucky not to take all three points away from a game in which they largely frustrated their opponents.

HT | 0-0
GOALS | Pitman PEN (74') - Leahy (47')
ATTENDANCE | 17,198 (464 Walsall)
REFEREE | Brett Huxtable

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