MATCH REPORT | Rochdale 1 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Rochdale and Walsall.
Walsall were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they travelled North to Spotland where they faced Rochdale in Sky Bet League One. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Callum Camps got the match underway, with Rochdale attacking the Sandy Lane end. The game started slowly, with both sides taking time to settle into it. With five minutes on the clock, Walsall won the first corner of the afternoon, thanks to some good play from Joe Edwards and Zeli Ismail. The ball was swung in, and cleared by Calvin Andrew, but only as far as Edwards who was waiting twenty five yards out, but the midfielders goal-bound effort was deflected wide.

The Saddlers won a second corner just two minutes after the first, but Rochdale's defences were alert and cleared the danger, allowing Joe Bunney to collect the ball moments later and play a dangerous low cross into the box, where Walsall shot-stopper, Mark Gillespie was able to smother.

The pace slowed a little again, with much of the action contained in the midfield area, until the ball fell to Kieron Morris in good position in the fourteenth minute, but the midfielder scuffed his right-footed long-range effort on goal, sending the ball well wide of the upright. There was another brief lull following the Saddlers attack, but five minutes later the visiting side were awarded a free-kick in scoring distance, which Ismail played towards the box, but Camps was on hand for Rochdale and cleared the danger.

Walsall continued to press, and could have opened the scoring in the twentieth minute, when Edwards fired an effort in from twenty yards, but his right-footed effort sailed just wide of the upright without troubling Rochdale 'keeper, Josh Lillis. Moments later, Daniel Agyei picked up the ball in a good position and launched an attack, cutting inside Donervon Daniels before curling an effort towards the top corner. Unfortunately for the Saddlers, the effort sailed just wide of the mark.

There was a brief pause in the action in the twenty fifth minute, whilst Joseph Rafferty received treatment for a knock, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue. The match was again halted three minutes later, whilst Morris received treatment, but he too was soon able to rejoin the action.

The hosts were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position shortly after we passed the half hour mark. Camps played the set-piece into the box from just outside the area, but he was unable to beat the wall. The ball eventually fell for Bunney, who crossed it towards the back post, with a little too much on it for his teammates, allowing it to fall behind for a goal-kick. A brief while later, Rochdale won a corner, which Camps swung into the box, but Gillespie rose well and collected.

There was another lull as the match headed rapidly towards half-time, with both sides happy to contain the ball in the midfield area, but forty two minutes in, the hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Matthew Done was pushed over inside the area, but the referee was unmoved and awarded a free-kick to the Saddlers for an infringement of the offside rule.

Three additional minutes were awarded at the end of the first half, but the only half-chance created during them saw Camps find the Walsall crossbar with a miss-hit cross, and the sides left the field of play with the scoresheet as it had been at the start of play.

0 - 0

Rochdale opted to make a change to their line-up for the second half, with Bradden Inman taking the place of Matt Done, before Walsall got the match back underway. Within two minutes of kick-off, Oztumer beat Lillis from close range and had the ball in the back of the net, but the linesman had his flag raised for an offside infringement and the goal was disallowed. A promising start to the half for the Saddlers who lacked the ability to convert their first half chances.

Jon Guthrie picked up the first yellow card of the game in the fiftieth minute, for a foul on Rochdale captain, Ian Henderson. The resulting free-kick was played forward, finding the head of Andrew, but Walsall cleared the initial danger, before Andrew picked up the ball again and fired an effort high over the crossbar.

The hosts continued to press, winning a corner in the fifty sixth minute, which was played low, into the area where it was picked up by Oliver Rathbone, whose effort on goal was deflected behind, resulting in a second corner which was played in towards the back-post, finding the head of Andrew who played the back across goal, allowing the Saddlers to clear as far as Camps, who fired an effort over the bar.

With sixty three minutes on the clock, Rochdale found the breakthrough, with help from some poor defending on the part of the Saddlers, who allowed Andrew two efforts on goal, the first being blocked by Leahy, before he fired the second attempt past Gillespie, into the bottom corner to put his side ahead.

Twenty minutes from time, the Saddlers opted to make their first change of the afternoon, replacing Kieron Morris with Simeon Jackson.

Following the change to the Walsall line-up, there was a pause in proceedings, allowing Jordan Williams to receive treatment, before it was decided that he would be unable to continue, and Joe Thompson took his place.

Rochdale went close to a second in the seventy fifth minute, when a neat one-two from Rafferty and Henderson allowed the latter to fire a shot in, which was turned behind by Kory Roberts, and the resulting corner was collected by Gillespie. The hosts continued to press, and should have doubled their advantage in the seventy eighth minute, but Andrew and Thompson were both denied by Leahy who blocked the ball on the line to prevent the goal.

With ten minutes of the game remaining, the Saddlers made their second change of the game, introducing Maz Kouhyar into the fray, in place of Zeli Ismail.

The hosts continued to see much of the ball as time ebbed away, with the Saddlers struggling to keep possession for more than a few seconds at a time. With six minutes of the match remaining, Rochdale were awarded a free-kick inside the Walsall half, after a foul by Agyei on Rafferty. The set-piece was played into the area, but the Walsall defences stood firm and cleared the danger.

Just three minutes from time, Walsall decided to make their third and final change of the afternoon, replacing Joe Edwards with Reece Flanagan.

In the ninetieth minute, against the run of play, a beautifully executed cut-back from the ever-present Oztumer was tapped home by Maz Kouhyar to draw the sides level, a sweet finish from the second-half sub who bags his first goal of the season.

Four additional minutes were awarded to end the game, and moments before the final whistle was blown, the ball fell to Rafferty on the right, but his shot on goal sailed over the bar after a scramble in the box, and the game ended with both sides taking a point apiece.

1 - 1
Andrew (63')
Kouhyar (90')
ATTENDANCE - 2,702 (171)
REFEREE - Andy Haines

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