MATCH REPORT: Walsall 1 Rotherham United 2 MATCH REPORT: Walsall 1 Rotherham United 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter •

MATCH REPORT: Walsall 1 Rotherham United 2

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

Walsall's final match of 2017 got off to a flying start with both Jerry Yates and David Ball seeing early chances blocked in the opening seconds, before a low cross from David Ball in just the fifty sixth second, allowed Semi Ajayi the simplest of tap in's to put his side ahead. A phenomenal start for Rotherham United as they set out to claim the last three points avaiable to them this calendar year.

The early tempo faded a little as the sides settled into the game and the Saddlers began to see more of the ball, but it wasn't until the tenth minute that Walsall created their half-chance of the afternoon, with a lovely cross from Zeli Ismail almost finding it's way through before Rotherham shot-stopper, Marek Rodak plucked it out of the air to deny the hosts.

The Saddlers didn't have long to wait before they were presented with another opportunity to draw level, with a twelfth minute cross from Nicky Devlin out on the left finding Luke Leahy who delivered an inch perfect cross to Joe Edwards, which the midfielder headed past Rodak and into the top corner to level the scores.

The visiting side set about trying to regain their earlier lead, and soon had the ball back at the other end, where it was played to Ball in the box by Millers captain, Lee Frecklington, but Ball's cross had too much on it and ran out of play at the back post before any of his teammates could get to it. The hosts soon had the ball back in-front of the Rotherham goal, with Ismail setting up Edwards on the edge of the area, for a second chance on goal, but Rodak got down well to hold the fierce effort.

Former Saddlers, Anthony Forde almost set up Ajayi for a second in the nineteenth minute, but his cross in from the right has just a little too much height for the defender. A few minutes later, Forde again caused his former side problems with a left-footed cross, aimed at Ryan Williams but Walsall 'keeper, Mark Gillespie was alert and got to the ball first to claim. As we reached the half hour mark, Forde found himself in position to fire an effort of his own goal-wards, but the tight angle allowed Gillespie to smother.

Walsall were awarded a free-kick in a promising position in the thirty second minute, and Ismail's looping ball in found the head of Kory Roberts who played the ball back across goal before Frecklington got a foot to it to clear just ahead of Kieron Morris who was primed to turn the ball home.

With just five minutes of the half remaining, the Saddlers almost found themselves ahead, as soon good work from Ismail set up Devlin, who cut inside before curling a left-footed shot just wide of the far post. Moments later, with the ball still in front of the Rotherham goal, Agyei slipped a lovely pass through to Erhun Oztumer who worked his way back inside and fired a left-footed effort narrowly wide of the upright.

The visiting side were quick to work the ball up to the other end, with the Saddlers allowing Frecklington too much room to shoot, but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Roberts and the resulting corner came to nothing. Walsall soon had the ball back in front of the Rotherham goal, but Ismail put too much on his pass and Rodak claimed ahead of Agyei.

Two additional minutes were added at the end of the half, but neither side was able to create any further chances of note and the sides headed for the dressing rooms all-square.

1 - 1

Rotherham made a change to their line-up as the teams re-emerged, with Kieffer Moore taking the place of Jerry Yates as Walsall got the second half got underway. The visitors began the half brightly, with Forde almost setting Ajayi up with a cross towards the back post in the forty ninth minute, but the Saddlers defences stood firm and headed the ball clear before the defender could reach it.

With fifty three minutes on the clock, substitute Moore was called into action, putting his body on the line to keep Edwards' goal-bound effort out following a wonderful move from Ismail to set his teammate up.

Fifty eight minutes in, Rotherham once again found themselves ahead. A lovely ball from Josh Emmanuel finding Moore, whose header fell kindly for Ball who fired home from close range.

The Saddlers responded to the goal by making their first change of the afternoon, replacing Kieron Morris with Maz Kouhyar.

The Millers continued to threaten the Walsall goal, and almost found a third through Moore following a delightful solo run, which culminated in a fierce effort which the Saddlers defences somehow managed to block, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Rotherham made their second change of the afternoon in the sixty third minute, as their captain, Lee Frecklington made way for Richard Wood.

The visitors won another corner in the sixty seventh minute, thanks to more good play from Moore in the box, causing Walsall captain, Adam Chambers to turn the ball behind. The ball in was played deep towards the far post where Roberts was waiting on the line to clear.

In the sixty eighth minute, the Saddlers opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Daniel Agyei making way for Simeon Jackson.

Moments after entering the fray, Jackson was presented with a huge chance to level the scores as a cross from the left fell to him, but the strikers weak effort was claimed by Rodak on the line. He really should have scored.

Richard Wood became the first player to receive a yellow card in the seventy second minute, picking up a caution for a foul.

The Saddlers continued to press forward as they looked for a late equaliser, with time ebbing away. With little over quarter of an hour remaining, Oztumer whipped the ball in towards the near post, where it was turned behind. The ball was crossed in again by the Turkish midfielder from the resulting corner, but Rodak got down well and punched the ball clear of the back post. The action slowed somewhat as we headed rapidly towards the final whistle, with much of the action centred around the midfield area.

With ten minutes still to play, Adam Chambers became the second player to pick up a yellow card, being booked for a foul on Ball.

Four minutes later, Joe Mattock joined Chambers and Wood in the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a cynical foul on Ismail.

The Saddlers made their third and final change in the eighty fifth minute, introducing Mitchel Candlin in place of Luke Leahy, and after a quiet five minute spell, the Millers opted to make their final change in the last minute of the ninety, introducing Joe Newell into the match in place of David Ball.

Five additional minutes were awarded, and Williams almost made them count with a delightful half-volley from forty yards after a miscued clearance from the Walsall 'keeper, but the Australian was unable to keep his effort on target and the Millers remained just the one goal ahead. The Saddlers were unable to create anything further though, and that one goal advantage was enough to ensure that the visitors took all three points back to Rotherham. A disappointing way to end the year for the Saddlers, who will hope to get 2018 off to a better start as they head to Plymouth on Monday.

1 - 2
Edwards (12')

Ajayi (1')
Ball (58')
Attendance - 4,685 (765)
Referee - Graham Salisbury
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