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MATCH REPORT: Plymouth Argyle 1 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from the New Year's Day clash between Plymouth Argyle and Walsall.
Walsall were back in Sky Bet League One action on New Year's Day as they made the long trip to Home Park where they took on Plymouth Argyle. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Walsall started the match brightly, with an early cross from Zeli Ismail causing problems for the Plymouth Argyle defences, though the hosts managed to clear the ball ahead of Joe Edwards. The play then settled around the midfield area as the sides settled in.

In the seventh minute, Argyle were awarded a free-kick twenty five yards from goal. Graham Carey looped the ball over the wall and into the box, but Walsall shot-stopper, Mark Gillespie was alert and turned the ball away. The resulting corner fell to Ryan Edwards, but the defender headed over.

The hosts continued to enjoy much of the ball, and twelve minutes in, almost opened the scoring. Antoni Sarcevic firing a long range effort in on goal, but a deflection en-route sent the ball wide and the resulting corner came to nothing. Moments later, back at the other end, Luke Leahy set up Amadou Bakayoko with a fine cross, but the big striker was unable to connect properly with his head and the ball flew away from goal.

The match settled back in the midfield area until twenty two minutes in, some good work from Ismail and Reece Flanagan set up Amadout Bakayoko, but the forwards weak effort was easily saved by Plymouth 'keeper, Remi Mathews. Moments later, up at the other end, Carey collected the ball and fired a thirty yard effort goal-wards, just clearing the crossbar.

The sides again settled into a midfield battle as the match progressed, with both teams enjoying some decent spells on the ball without creating much going forwards, until the Saddlers won a corner in the thirty sixth minute thanks to Plymouth captain, Gary Sawyer who turned the ball behind. The ball in from Erhun Oztumer looked good as it was flicked on to Bakayoko, but none of his teammates were able to get to it as it flashed across the Argyle goal, and the hosts were able clear.

In the fortieth minute, Reece Flanagan became the first player to enter the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for dragging Carey back.

Moments before entering two additional minutes of play, the Saddlers saw a fabulous, curling corner kick from Oztumer beaten away by Matthews. The hosts almost scored moments before the half-time whistle blew, but Carey's eight yard angled effort sailed wide of the upright and the sides trudged back to the dressing rooms after a goalless first half.

0 - 0

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and the second half got underway, with an early chance for the Saddlers just a minute into the half as a deep cross from Joe Edwards was picked up by Ismail who worked himself into space before scuffing his effort wide of the near post.

In the forty ninth minute, Walsall captain captain, Adam Chambers turned the ball behind, resulting in a corner for the hosts, which fell to Ruben Lameiras outside the box, but his left-footed shot in was blocked and the Saddlers were able to clear. Moments later, the hosts created another chance as a ball from the right found the head of Taylor but the man between the sticks was alert and held well.

The hosts continued to apply pressure, and won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the fifty fith minute, but Gillespie was on hand to parry Carey's twenty five yard effort, and the Saddlers soon had the ball up at the other end. Oztumer picking up the ball twenty five yards from goal and firing an effort in, but Matthews was comfortably able to gather. Within a minute, the ball was back in front of the Walsall goal, thanks to some good work from Oscar Threlkeld and Carey, who set up Lameiras, but the twenty yard goal-bound shot which was claimed by the Walsall shot-stopper.

With sixty seven minutes on the clock, the hosts found the breakthrough after a Carey shot from outside the box was parried, and opened the scoring with a twenty yard left-footed Taylor effort sailing beyond Gillespie, into the bottom corner.

The Saddlers felt they should have had a penalty awarded shortly after the Argyle goal, when Flanagan was bundled over in the box, but the referee was unmoved and waved play on.

With seventy four minutes on the clock, Amadou Bakayoko became the second player to receive a caution, picking up a yellow card for a somewhat reckless challenge on Sonny Bradley. That would be his last involvement for the afternoon as the Saddlers opted to make a double change replacing Bakayoko and Joe Edwards with Simeon Jackson and Daniel Agyei for the final fifteen minutes.

The visiting side enjoyed much of the ball as we headed rapidly towards the final whistle, as they continued to seek a late equaliser, but the hosts continued to defend well to keep them out. Ten minutes from time, Ismail looked to have put Jackson in  with a delightful cross, but Bradley was on hand to head the ball clear.

With just four minutes remaining, the Walsall bench opted to make their final change of the afternoon, replacing Erhun Oztumer with Maz Kouhyar.

Three minutes were added to end the match, but neither side was able to make use of them and the final whistle blew with Taylor's sixty seventh minute goal proving enough for Plymouth to take all three points. A disappointing start to 2018 for the Saddlers, who must surely use the upcoming break in games to strengthen their squad before their next match.

1 - 0
Taylor (67')

Attendance - 10,432 (275)
Referee - Kevin Johnson

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