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MATCH REPORT: Blackburn Rovers 3 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's League One clash between Blackburn Rovers and Walsall.
The Saddlers were back in action on Tuesday evening as they made the trip to Ewood Park where they took on Blackburn Rovers in Sky Bet League One. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Walsall started the match brightly, getting forward through George Dobson within a minute of kick-off, but the midfielder's long-range, driven effort sailed wide without troubling David Raya in the Blackburn Rovers goal. The Saddlers good start didn't last long, as five minutes in, they conceded the opening goal to Danny Graham, who fired a low cross across Liam Roberts in the visitors goal, slotting the ball neatly into the far corner.

Within moments of taking the lead, Blackburn almost doubled their advantage through Adam Armstrong, who found himself in space ten yards from goal, but Liam Roberts was alert and parried the effort to spare his sides blushes. The hosts continued to dominate and called the Walsall shot-stopper into action again in the tenth minute, to prevent another attempt from a corner.

The Saddlers finally managed to work the ball back up to the other end eleven minutes in, with Joe Edwards testing Raya with a right-footed effort from twenty yards, but the Rovers 'keeper was equal to it and got down well to hold. The visitors continued to see a little more of the ball and as we reached the quarter hour mark, a clever move from Amadou Bakayoko set Erhun Oztumer up, but the Turkish midfielder sliced his effort wide under pressure.

Blackburn were unlucky not to double their advantage in the nineteenth minute, with Graham heading the ball into the path of Armstrong before the striker turned the ball wide from just ten yards when it was probably easier to score than miss.

The hosts continued to press and soon had the ball back in front of the Walsall goal, with ex-Saddler Paul Downing rising well to head the ball goal-wards, but Liam Roberts was once again alert and brilliantly palmed the ball clear. Within moments, Rovers had the ball in shooting range once more, with Bradley Dack the man to drill an effort goal-wards, but his shot from just ten yards out sailed wide of the mark without troubling the Walsall 'keeper.

With thirty two minutes on the clock, the hosts found the breakthrough and extended their lead, thanks to a cross from Richie Smallwood, which whipped in from the right, finding the head of Graham, who nodded home his second of the evening at the far post.

Five minutes after they watched a second slip past their 'keeper, the Saddlers pulled one back, with a long ball from Kory Roberts finding Edwards who slipped past the Rovers defences and fired an eight yard effort into the roof of the net.

Unperturbed, the hosts set out to re-gain their two-goal advantage. In the forty second minute, some excellent work from Amari'i Bell saw him break through the Walsall defences in a move which culminated in his low cross being met by Armstrong who slipped the ball just wide of the post.

One additional minute was played before an end was brought to the half, but neither side were able to create any further chances and they headed into the break with the hosts holding on to their slender lead. Walsall lucky to be just one goal behind at the interval following a dominant display from their opponents.

2 - 1

The Saddlers made a double change before the match resumed, with Kory Roberts and Kieron Morris watching the second half from the bench, as Reece Flanagan and Justin Shaibu took their places.

It took Blackburn just two minutes to find their third goal as Bell, Payne and Graham combined well to set up Dack, who coolly side-footed the ball past Liam Roberts into the bottom corner from inside the box.

There was some concern for the Saddlers seven minutes into the half, as Shaibu went down following a nasty collision with Ryan Nyambe, but the Brentford loanee was soon up and able to continue.

With fifty seven minutes on the clock, the hosts almost further extended their lead when Armstrong capitalised on a mistake from Walsall captain, Adam Chambers, and raced towards goal, but a deflection on his strike allowed Liam Roberts to get a hand to the ball to tip it over. Walsall almost got a goal back in the sixty fourth minute, as a clever pass from Dobson found Bakayoko, but the big striker was caught off balance and sent his shot sailing high over the bar.

Blackburn opted to make the first change to their line-up in the sixty fifth minute, with Craig Conway taking the place of Jack Payne for the final twenty five minutes.

After a quieter spell, Rovers again tested Liam Roberts in the seventy second minute, drawing another superb save from the 'keeper as he tipped the ball over the bar to prevent an Armstrong goal from twelve yards.

With seventy seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the evening, with Maz Kouhyar taking the place of a rather quiet Erhun Oztumer. Two minutes later, Rovers opted to make their second change of the match, with Danny Graham the man to make way as Dominic Samuel entered the fray.

There was little urgency as the match continued, with the hosts content to simply maintain their lead, whilst frustrating their visiting opponents.

With five minutes still to play, Blackburn opted to make their third and final change of the evening, with Lewis Travis taking the place of Richie Smallwood.

The final few minutes saw little action, as the hosts ran down the clock. Three additional minutes were added to end the game, and a minute into them, a good run from Shaibu looked likely to lead to a shot from close range, but the Blackburn defences remained alert and prevented the effort, maintaining their three-goals-to-one lead. Another disappointing display from the Saddlers who struggled to get into the match at all.

3 - 1
Graham (5')
Graham (32')
Dack (47')
Edwards (37')

Attendance: 11,241 (227 Walsall)
Referee: Stephen Martin

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