Saturday, 17 February 2018

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MATCH REPORT: Gillingham 0 Walsall 0

5:10 pm Saturday, 17 February 2018
Here is our Match Report from Saturday's League One clash between Gillingham and Walsall.
Walsall were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they travelled to Priestfield Stadium where they took on Gillingham in their latest League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Walsall's Erhun Oztumer got the match underway and both sides enjoyed some early possession as they settled into the game, without troubling either goalkeeper in the opening few minutes.

Twelve minutes in, Gillingham won a free-kick out on the right, as Tom Eaves was felled. Luke O'Neill played a good cross into the box, but Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts was alert and collected the ball as it came in. Moments later, a poor back pass from Jon Guthrie caused some trouble for the Saddlers 'keeper, as Josh Parker stealing the ball but the strikers effort was ultimately too strong and the ball sailed out behind.

Today's hosts continued to press, winning a corner in the sixteenth minute, which was played short to O'Neill who passed the ball back to Cullum Reilly whose deep cross to the back post was met by Gillingham captain, Gabriel Zukuani before the ball was cleared behind by the Saddlers defences. The second flag-kick was swung into towards the back post where it was met by the head of Ben Nugent who was unable to keep his effort down and sent the ball over the bar.

The home side really began to dominate, and twenty minutes in could have opened the scoring when a cross from Connor Oglivie from the left-wing set up Eaves, but the striker was unable to keep his headed effort down and the ball sailed over the bar. Moments later, a cross from O'Neill set up Eaves with another header in-front of goal, but the downward headed effort hit the ground and bounced, sending the ball sailing over the crossbar.

The Saddlers finally created their first half-chance of the match in the thirty second minute, as George Dobson found himself in space twenty-five yards out, but the midfielders low effort took a deflection on it's way through allowing Tomas Holy to get to the ball and push it clear.

In the forty second minute, Walsall were awarded a free-kick, which Oztumer played in for an unmarked Amadou Bakayoko, but the striker was unable to keep his header on target and sent the ball sailing wide of goal. Half-time was reached with no further chances of note for either side and the scores still tied.

0 - 0

Gillingham got the second half underway, with the teams unchanged. The half started quietly, with neither side able to create anything, with the home team seeing much of the ball whilst being contained largely within the midfield area. Six minutes in, the hosts did well to get the ball forward, with some good combination play from Parker and O'Neill out on the right, but the eventual cross in was cleared. Unperturbed, the hosts again worked the ball forwards, eventually finding Eaves in the box, but Roberts remained alert and gathered.

The Saddlers, having withstood an extended spell of pressure from the hosts, finally won the ball in the fifty fifth minute, with Kieron Morris finding himself in shooting range, twenty yards from goal, but he dragged his left-footed shot well wide of the upright.

In the sixty second minute, the Gills opted to make the first change to their line-up, with Conor Wilkinson taking the place of Callum Reilly for the final half hour.

With sixty five minutes on the clock, the hosts were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. O'Neill whipped the ball in, and Zakuani crossed the ball back across goal for Eaves, who hooked his shot onto the outside of Roberts upright. Unlucky for the Gills, who looked certain to score for a moment.

Twenty minutes from time, the Walsall bench chose to make a double change to their team, as both Kieron Morris and Amadou Bakayoko were taken off, allowing Maz Kouhyar and Justin Shaibu twenty minutes of action.

Four minutes later, following a weak effort from Jake Hessenthaler which was easily gathered by Roberts, the Gills made their second change of the match, as Luke O'Neill made way for Scott Wagstaff. A further two minutes later, the visiting side opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, with Erhun Oztumer making way for Florent Cuvelier.

The hosts continued to see much of the ball as the game continued, and almost opened the scoring in the eightieth minute, as a deep cross from Mark Byrne found Josh Parker inside the box, but the midfielders headed effort trickled just wide of the far post, though the officials flag was raised for an infringement of the offside rule in any event.

George Dobson picked up the first yellow card of the match in the eighty fifth minute, for a late challenge on Ogilvie. Conor Wilkinson then picked up the second yellow of the game, for his reaction to the foul.

The Gills won two corners in quick succession as we raced towards the final whistle, but both came to nothing as the first was guided out of play following a loose back-heel from Parker and the second culminated in a foul in the box and a free-kick for Walsall.

Three additional minutes were played to end the match, which began with Hessenthaler sending an effort sailing over the crossbar, moments after Shaibu saw an effort saved by Holy, but neither side was able to capitalise and the referee brought a halt to proceedings with the scores still tied at nil-nil. A decent point for the Saddlers on the road, and a decent defensive performance from the team as they withstood long spells of Gillingham pressure, though disappointing not to see more of their attacking prowess on show.

0 - 0

Attendance: 4,682 (209)
Referee: Kevin Johnson

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