MATCH REPORT: Walsall 0 Wigan Athletic 3

Here is our Match Report from Wednesday evening's League One clash between Walsall and Wigan Athletic.
Walsall were back in action on Wednesday evening as recently appointed manager Dean Keates took charge of his first Saddlers game. We were in attendance, and you can read our Match Report below.

The match got off to a flying start, with Wigan Athletic winning a corner just a minute in, which Max Power swung into the box for Chey Dunkley who was unable to keep his headed effort on target, sending the ball wide of the post. Mere moments later, the visiting side were on the march again, with Michael Jacobs racing towards the Walsall goal, but Jon Guthrie was on hand with a well-timed challenge on the edge of the box to stop the forward momentum.

Wigan won their second corner of the match in the tenth minute, after some good work from Nick Powell and Nathan Byrne forced Luke Leahy to put the ball behind. Max Power again swung the ball into the box, finding Ryan Colclough at the far post. Colclough did well to find Powell with a hooked cross, but the midfielder was unable to keep his headed effort down.

Walsall began to see a little more of the ball as the match continued and saw an ambitious shot from Nicky Devlin sail wide in the twelfth minute. The Saddlers won their first corner three minutes later, after enjoying a decent spell of possession, but George Dobson’s deep ball in was awkward for Guthrie who was unable to connect cleanly, allowing Christian Walton to claim.

The game became something of a midfield battle as it progressed, with both sides cancelling the other out, but twenty-three minutes in, Erhun Oztumer broke, charging towards the box before unleashing a twenty yard effort which took a deflection en-route, allowing Walton to claim.

Twenty-eight minutes in, the Saddlers looked almost certain to score, after some wonderful build-up play allowed Devlin to send a low cross Amadou Bakayoko’s way, but Dunkley was well placed to prevent the ball getting to the big striker.

With thirty-one minutes on the clock, against the run of play, Wigan opened the scoring. A clever cross from Powell with the outside of his boot finding Jacobs, who turned the ball home at the far post.

It took Wigan just four minutes to double their advantage as the Saddlers were only able to half-clear a free-kick from Power, allowing Jay Fulton to pick up the loose ball on the edge of the box and fire a powerful twenty yard effort into the bottom corner.

Walsall’s capitulation continued, allowing Wigan to secure a third goal within ten minutes of the first as Liam Roberts dropped the ball following a Power cross in the fortieth minute, providing Dunkley with the simplest of tap-ins to put his side almost out of reach of their hosts.

Maz Kouhyar went close to getting a goal back for the Saddlers moments before the break but his low driven effort sailed just wide of the far post, and after two additional minutes were played, the teams headed back down the tunnel for their, presumably, rather different half-time chats.

0 - 3

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and the match got back underway. The Saddlers went close within thirty seconds of the re-start, as Kieron Morris marched forwards down the left before firing a low effort straight into the waiting arms of Walton.

Five minutes into the half, Morris again went on the attack, staving off pressure from Byrne on the edge of the area to send a shot goal-wards, but Walton was again able to hold to deny the Saddlers a goal back.

Walsall continued to search for a route back into the game and shortly after we passed the hour mark, a lovely move from Oztumer looked to have set Bakayoko up, but Walton raced off his line to block the shot.

With seventy minutes on the clock, both sides opted to make the first changes to their respective line-ups, with the Saddlers replacing George Dobson with Florent Cuvelier and Wigan taking off James Vaughan in favour of Will Grigg.

Wigan enjoyed much of the possession as the game rapidly headed towards it’s conclusion, ensuring the Saddlers had little chance to get back into it, whilst creating little of note themselves.

With eighty-one minutes played, Max Power picked up the first yellow card of the evening for shoving Devlin after a fifty-fifty in the box.

A minute later, Wigan opted to make their second change of the evening, replacing Jay Fulton with Gary Roberts for the run-in.

The visiting side continued to see much of the ball as time ebbed away, but it seemed were content to thwart Walsall rather than seek further goals.

A minute from time, Wigan opted to make their third and final change of the evening, introducing Davante Cole in place of Michael Jacobs as the officials indicated three additional minutes were to be played.

Neither side created any further chances as the clock ran down, and Referee, John Brooks brought a halt to the match with Wigan’s three-goal-to-nil lead intact. A disappointing evening for Dean Keates Saddlers, who headed into the extended break with much work to do.

0 - 3

Jacobs (31')
Fulton (35')
Dunkley (40')
Attendance: 4,477
Referee: John Brooks

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