MATCH REPORT: Walsall 2 Oxford United 1×
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MATCH REPORT: Walsall 2 Oxford United 1
 
MATCH REPORT: Walsall 2 Oxford United 1
MATCH REPORT: Walsall 2 Oxford United 1
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MATCH REPORT: Walsall 2 Oxford United 1

5:10 pm Saturday, 13 January 2018
Here is our match report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and Oxford United,
After a little under two weeks without a match the Saddlers returned to action this weekend as they welcomed Oxford United to Banks's Stadium. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Walsall got the game underway via Erhun Oztumer, but it was the Saddlers' back-line, which has been rocked by the recent departure of former Sheffield United defender James Wilson, who had to be alert first as Kory Roberts did well to to clear the danger as Jon Obika looked to grab an early goal.

Walsall won the first corner of the game as the U's defender Canice Carroll prevented Joe Edwards from getting a cross into the box. Reece Flanagan's initial corner was cleared, the ball falling to second-time debutante George Dobson who could only smash the ball wide of goal.

The Saddlers were awarded a free kick after five minutes of play as Oztumer was wrestled to the ground by Dwight Tiendalli. Oztumer fired a curling ball in, which Luke Leahy picked up and played back across the face of goal, but none of their teammates were able to get to it before Oxford shot-stopper Simon Eastwood gathered. The hosts continued to pressure the United goal and soon had the ball back in shooting range, with Kory Roberts picking out Oztumer, who worked his way into the box before firing a low effort goal-wards, but Eastwood was again on hand to keep the scores level.

The Saddlers continued to seek an early goal, with Joe Edwards taking advantage of a poor Tiendalli clearance in the ninth minute, but the twenty five yard effort sailed well wide of the mark. Oxford were then able to get back into the game a little, winning a free kick thirty yards from the Walsall goal thanks to some good work from Jack Payne, but the ball in, which found Aaron Martin at the back post, was easily tipped over by Liam Roberts. The resulting corner came to nothing as Wes Thomas conceded a foul as the ball was played in. Oxford continued to enjoy a spell of possession as the match continued, winning another corner in the seventieth minute, but the Walsall 'keeper was able to gather.

With twenty minutes on the clock, Liam Kinsella became the first player to be shown the yellow card, picking up a caution for tackling Obika from behind.

Oxford continued to dominate, winning yet another corner in the twenty first minute, as Carroll chipped the ball into the area, forcing the Saddlers defences to turn it behind, but once again the Saddlers stood firm and the ball in was eventually headed clear.

Continuing to search for the opening goal, United piled on the pressure and in the twenty fifth minute were only denied by Liam Roberts who pulled off a great save to keep out James Henry. Moments later, the Saddlers shot-stopper was called into action again, pulling off a magnificent one-handed save to prevent a close-range headed effort from Thomas finding the back of the net.

Thirty three minutes in, Carroll conceded a free-kick just outside the Oxford box, which Oztumer took quickly, picking out Leahy who played a lovely low ball on for Amadou Bakayoko to slip home from close range, putting the Saddlers a goal to the good against the run of play.

Moments later, Oztumer found himself goalside of John Mousinho, but Martin and Mousinho got back before he could get get a shot away. The frenetic tempo slowed a little as we raced towards the break, but moments before half-time, the visitors could have equalised through Obika, but Kory Roberts was able to guide the ball out for a corner, which was cleared by the Walsall defences, and after one additional minute was played, the teams headed off down the tunnel with the Saddlers enjoying a slender advantage.

WFC
1 - 0
OUFC

The Saddlers opted to make their first change at the break, introducing Kieron Morris for the second half, in place of Reece Flanagan. Oxford United got the second half underway, but the Saddlers soon had the advantage, taking all of three minutes to double their first-half advantage. Oztumer picking up a long ball from Leahy before firing a ball over Eastwood and into the back of the net.

The visitors looked for a quick response, with some good work from Henry out on the right setting up Josh Ruffels, but the midfielders powerful, twenty yard effort flashed wide of the upright. Moments later, with the ball back at the other end, the Saddlers almost found a third as Edwards cut inside and fired a goal-bound effort in, forcing Eastwood to tip over. Eastwood was then able to punch the resulting corner clear and set his side away, but the move soon broke down with an over-hit pass allowing Walsall to regain possession.

Both sides enjoyed moments on the ball in the following minutes, but neither was able to find any breakthrough, until a mix-up between Tiendalli and Mousinho in the sixty third minute allowed Walsall space to attack. Both Kinsella and Bakayoko played a part in setting up Edwards, who fired a shot goal-wards from twenty yards, but saw the effort blocked, allowing Eastwood to gather.

With sixty six minutes on the clock, Aaron Martin became the second entry into the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul.

The Oxford bench opted to make their first change of the afternoon in the sixty seventh minute, with Jack Payne the man to make way as Malachi Napa entered the fray.

Twenty minutes from time, a foul by George Dobson on the edge of the box gifted Oxford a free-kick in a dangerous position. The on-loan Alex Mowatt took the set-piece, curling a delightful ball over the wall and past Liam Roberts to bring his side to within a goal of the Saddlers.

With seventy five minutes on the clock, the visiting side opted to make their second change of the afternoon, bringing on Agon Mehmeti in place of Wes Thomas for the final quarter of an hour.

The visiting side continued to press as they sought to get back on level terms, forcing another brilliant save from Liam Roberts in the seventy sixth minute, as Henry fired a fabulous twenty five yard goal-bound effort in.

In the seventy seventh minute, the Saddlers opted to make their second change of the match, introducing Flo Cuvelier in place of George Dobson. Two minutes later, Oxford chose to use their third and final substitution to replace James Henry with Gino Van Kessel.

The visiting side continued to seek chances to draw level, and ten minutes from time Mousinho picked out the head of Obika with a delightful cross from the right, but Obika's header sailed inches wide without troubling the man between the sticks. Though the earlier levels of action reduced somewhat as the sides tired.

Eighty two minutes in, there was a brief halt to proceedings as Bakayoko received treatment for an injury, but the big striker was soon up and able to continue.

Five minutes from time, Canice Carroll became the third player to receive a yellow card for a foul. The Saddlers then decided to make their third and final change, with Erhun Oztumer making way for Tyler Roberts.

The visitors continued to search for a late equaliser as time ebbed away, with Napa working the ball to the edge of the area in the final minute of normal time, before seeing his shot deflected wide.

Four additional minutes were added at the end of the game, but neither side was able to create any chances of note, and the final whistle blew with the Saddlers still holding on their goal advantage. A good win for the home team, who had their backs to the walls at times, but saw out the game after scoring two good goals with a decent overall performance upon which to build.

WFC
2 - 1
OUFC
Bakayoko (33')
Oztumer (48')
Mowatt (70')

Attendance: 4,569 (1,125)
Referee: Brett Huxtable


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