MATCH REPORT | Oxford United 1 Walsall 2

Here is our match report from Saturday afternoon's League One clash between Walsall and Oxford United.
Walsall were back in League One action on Saturday afternoon as they took on Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium. We were in attendance and you can read our match report below.

Oxford United saw the first chance of the game, just two minutes in. A foul on Rob Hall gave his side an advantage as the referee waved play on, allowing Jon Obika to pounce on the loose ball, but the Saddlers defences were well placed to see the ball out for a corner. The ball in was played short and Walsall were able to clear before it was crossed into the box. Good early play from both sides, with the visitors sitting deep, soaking up the early pressure.

Mark Gillespie was called into action in the sixth minute, as the hosts continued to press, but the Walsall shot-stopper was alert and easily able to save Obika's twenty five yard, left-footed effort. Moments later, the Saddlers 'keeper was again tested as Ricardinho fired an effort goal-wards, but he was again equal to it and claimed.

The Saddlers finally got the ball up to the other end in the tenth minute, with Zeli Ismail beating Ricardinho before sending a low cross into the box, but the Oxford defences were first to it and able to clear. The ball was then picked up by Erhun Oztumer who fired an effort in from close range, but Simon Eastwood was easily able to claim.

The hosts won a corner fourteen minutes in, from which Walsall broke, but a pass from Oztumer was intercepted by John Mousinho to avert the danger for his side. The Saddlers soon had the ball back, and Ismail again beat Ricardinho to turn a cross in, but none of his teammates was able to get to it and the ball flashed harmlessly across the face of goal.

The Saddlers got more into the game as it progressed, and twenty three minutes in were unlucky not to take the lead, when a low shot from Kieron Morris from the edge of the area, was fumbled onto the post by Eastwood, but the ball eventually went behind, and Mike Williamson headed the resulting corner clear.

In the twenty seventh minute, Joe Rothwell picked up the first caution of the game, receiving a yellow card for a poor challenge on Oztumer.

Thirty two minutes in, Walsall found the breakthrough, with Joe Edwards beating to cross towards the back post where Oztumer was waiting and converted with a simple tap-in to put his side ahead. The Saddlers making the most of their opportunities after a slow start.

Walsall almost doubled their advantage in the thirty sixth minute, with Mousinho giving the ball away to Morris, who needed no second invitation, taking the ball down the left wing before crossing in for Oztumer, who sliced his first-time effort, sending his shot wide. The Saddlers were quick to get the ball back to Oztumer, who played a lovely one-two with Tyler Roberts on the edge of the box, before firing a low effort goal-wards from twenty yards, but Eastwood got down well to gather.

With forty minutes on the clock, the Saddlers again found a route through on goal, with Ismail finding Roberts in the box, but Roberts low strike was saved by Eastwood. Eastwood was tested once more a minute later, when Oztumer found himself in a one-on-one situation, but the 'keeper stood tall and blocked the midfielders effort.

As we headed into the one additional minute, Nicky Devlin won a free-kick, but the hosts were able to avert the danger and the referee brought an end to the half with Oztumer's goal separating the sides at the break. The Saddlers could have been further ahead had they been able to capitalise on their chances late in the first half, but Oxford's defences and a few poorly aimed shots kept the hosts in the game.


Our hosts made a change ahead of the second half, with James Henry replacing Jon Obika. Henry was soon involved, picking out Hall with a cross in the forty eighth minute, but the promising move culminated in the ball being fired well wide of the target by Payne.

The Saddlers soon had the ball back at the other end, but Roberts twenty yard, right-footed curling effort sailed wide of the mark without troubling the man between the sticks. Two minutes later, in the fifty second minute, Roberts was more fortunate, being played through by Oztumer, and firing an effort across Eastwood to find the bottom corner, putting his side two goals to the good.

In the fifty eighth minute, the hosts opted to make a second change to their line-up, introducing Alex Mowatt in place of Jack Payne.

As we reached the hour mark, the hosts saw a chance missed, after a long clearance from Eastwood bounced kindly for Henry in the box, but his attempted lob was easily gathered by Gillespie. Moments later, United won a corner after some patient build-up play, but the Saddlers defences were able to clear. The visitors were quick to get the ball back to the other end, and a lovely move from Morris saw Roberts pick up the ball on the edge of the area, but the West Bromwich Albion strikers driven effort was tipped over by Eastwood and the resulting corner came to nothing.

Heading into the final twenty minutes, the hosts won a corner which was headed down for Henry, whose volley was spectacularly tipped over the crossbar by Gillespie to keep his sides two-goal lead intact. Keen to get themselves back into the game, the hosts continued to press, and seventy three minutes in, were a little unlucky not to get a goal back when a shot from Ledson took a deflection and found Gino Van Kessel, who poked his shot into the bar.

The Saddlers made a change to their line-up with little over fifteen minutes remaining, with Amadou Bakayoko replacing Tyler Roberts. The hosts also took the opportunity to make their final substitution, with Josh Ruffels taking the place of Joe Rothwell.

Seventy seven minutes in, Oxford were awarded a penalty, when a clumsy challenge from Luke Leahy brought down Hall in the area. Ledson stepped up to take the spot-kick and send Gillespie the wrong way, bringing his side to within a goal of their opponents.

The Walsall bench responded to the Oxford goal by making another change, introducing Liam Kinsella into the game in place of Zeli Ismail as they looked to hold on to their slender lead for the final twelve minutes.

There was little real action in the final ten minutes, but the Saddlers did win a corner three minutes from time thanks to a Kinsella shot which deflected off Curtis Nelson. Oztumer played a good ball in from the flag-kick, but Leahy's effort cleared the bar without troubling Eastwood in the Oxford goal.

Three additional minutes were added, as Oztumer picked out Bakayoko with a lovely cross, but the striker's twenty yard effort sailed over the bar. There was no further action of note, as the Saddlers held on to their lead to see out a deserved two-goal-to-one victory on the road. A dominant display from Jon Whitney's side, who had waited nine months for a win away from home.

Ledson PEN (77') // Oztumer (32') T.Roberts (53')
ATT | 6,895 (403)
REF | Scott Oldham

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