Tuesday, 6 March 2018

MATCH REPORT: Walsall 0 Rochdale 3

MATCH REPORT: Walsall 0 Rochdale 3

Here is our match report from Tuesday evening's League One clash between Walsall and Rochdale.
Walsall were back in action on Tuesday evening as they played host to Rochdale in their latest League One fixture of the season. We were in attendance, and you can read our match report below.

Stephen Humphrys got the match underway, but it took both sides some time to really get going, with a rather tepid opening ten  minutes being played before either side created anything of note, with Matthew Done reaching the byline and passing into the area, but Walsall's defences were alert and ensured Bradden Inman was unable to find goal.

The Saddlers were quick to get the ball back up to the other end though with a neat through ball from Erhun Oztumer being chased down by Julien Ngoy close to the eighteen yard box, but Rochdale 'keeper, Joshua Lillis came out to clear the danger.

With sixteen minutes on the clock, Rochdale found the breakthrough; Done winning a corner which was neatly swung into the box by Inman as Jimmy McNulty rose to meet it and looped a headed effort into the far corner.

The visiting team began to really dominate following the goal, with Saddlers struggling to win back the ball, though there was little attacking threat displayed by either side.

Twenty five minutes in, a free-kick was awarded to Dale in a dangerous position, thirty yards from goal, but the delivery to the back post was met by a Walsall man and cleared.

Back at the other end a short time later, some fabulous work from Nicky Devlin created an opening, but his low cross across the face of goal was turned away by Harrison McGahey before any of his Walsall teammates could get a touch on it. The Saddlers continued to enjoy a brighter spell and two minutes later Ngoy almost opened the scoring with a rasping drive, but Lillis was alert and got a hand to the ball to turn it away from goal.

Thirty five minutes in, Done was unlucky not to double his sides advantage, as his goal-bound left-footed effort was deflected behind at the last moment. From the resulting corner, Inman found the head of Ryan Delaney, but Delaney was unable to keep his header on target and turned the ball just wide of the post.

With the ball back in-front of the Rochdale goal, a thirty seventh minute effort from Kieron Morris looked promising, but the twenty yard shot was parried by an alert Lillis and the rebound eventually cleared. Lillis was tested again moments later, when a long-range shot from George Dobson sailed his way, but the Dale 'keeper kept his cool and got down well to his right to prevent the goal.

With just three minutes of the half remaining, Rochdale again posed problems for the Walsall defences, with Inman delivering the ball across the face of goal, where it was met by Callum Camps but the Saddlers defences caused Dale enough problems to ensure the danger was eventually cleared.

After one additional minute was played, the teams headed off for their half-time refreshments with Rochdale leading by one-goal-to-nil.

0 - 1

Walsall made their first change of the evening as the teams re-emerged, with Justin Shaibu taking the place of Maz Kouhyar as they got the second half underway. The visitors were soon causing more problems for the hosts, as just three minutes in to the half, Rochdale captain Ian Henderson beat Kory Roberts before laying off to Humphrys, but the striker was unable to keep his effort on target and the ball cleared the crossbar without troubling Liam Roberts.

The visiting side continued to enjoy good spells of possession as the second half continued, and five minutes in they won a corner thanks to a delightful pass from McNulty which found Henderson who in turn worked the ball to Andrew Cannon whose effort on goal was turned behind. The ball in was a good one, but Delaney headed over.

With fifty six minutes on the clock, Rochdale opted to make their first change of the evening, introducing Steven Davies into the game in place of Stephen Humphrys.

A neat one-two between Oztumer and Shaibu, in the fifty seventh minute, almost culminated in a Walsall equaliser, but Lillis got down well to gather. A short while later, the Saddlers were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position out on the right, but the ball in was easily gathered by Lillis.

Sixty three minutes in, the Saddlers opted to make their second change of the evening, replacing captain Adam Chambers with Florent Cuvelier.

Two minutes later, the hosts were awarded a free-kick out on the left, which was played in towards the back-post where it was cleared by Delaney.

In the sixty sixth minute, Luke Leahy became the first player to enter the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for dissenting after a penalty appeal was waved away.

Twenty minutes from time, Walsall made their third and final change, replacing Julien Ngoy with Amadou Bakayoko for the run-in as they looked to get back on level terms.

Just moments after the change, Rochdale made the Saddlers task even harder as Henderson fired a curling right-footed shot into the bottom corner to double his sides advantage. Rochdale then made their second substitution, replacing Bradden Inman with Mihai Dobre.

Walsall were awarded a penalty in the seventy sixth minute, thanks to a foul by Delaney on Bakayoko. Oztumer stepped up and fired the spot-kick in, but Lillis guessed the right way and made a fabulous diving save to deny him.

The Saddlers continued to search for a route back into the game, but when the chance finally came in the eighty third minute, Bakayoko was unable to keep his effort down, sending the ball high into the stands.

Three minutes later, with eighty six minutes on the clock, Dale debutant Dobre put the match to bed finding his way through the Saddlers defences before smashing a left-footed effort into the corner.

Four additional minutes were awarded but they were just a formality with all three points already secured by the visiting side and no further action of note during them. A disappointing night for the Saddlers who should struggled to get a foothold in the match and were unable once more to capitalise on a good win in their previous game, something which is becoming all too common an occurrence for them.

0 - 3

McNulty (16')
Henderson (71')
Dobre (87')
Attendance: 3,505 (115)
Referee: Robert Lewis

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