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Match Report: Oldham Athletic 1 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Wednesday evening's Sky Bet League One clash between Oldham Athletic and Walsall.
Dean Keates' Saddlers arrived at the match on the back of Saturday afternoon's narrow victory over all-but relegated Bury and were keen to grab their second win on the bounce as they look to move further away from the relegation zone.

Oldham Athletic got the match underway and were soon on the attack, with Jack Byrne finding Patrick McEleney in space out wide, just three minutes in, but the midfielders shot from just outside the box sailed wide.

Walsall were also quick out of the blocks, creating their first chance of the game just five minutes in, as a brilliant move from George Dobson saw the midfielder beat his man as he entered the box before setting up Julien Ngoy whose low effort was just a little too close to Oldham ‘keeper, Johny Placide, who saved.

The match settled a little following the Ngoy effort, with both sides enjoying spells of possession without creating any further goal-scoring opportunities, until Duckens Nazon found himself in space in the twelfth minute and fired a powerful twenty-yard effort narrowly wide. Moments later, with the ball quickly returned to the other end, the Saddlers almost opened the scoring as Kieron Morris set up Ngoy with a clever cross, but Ngoy’s headed effort sailed over the bar.

With fifteen minutes on the clock, Nazon again went close, with an overhead kick which looped onto the roof of the net. It would have been a spectacular goal had it gone in. The game then became something of a midfield battle, with neither side able to find another chance on goal until the twenty second minute, when Ousmane Fane fired a long-range effort well wide.

Walsall won a corner in the thirty-third minute as Ngoy found himself in behind the defences, forcing Placide to turn the ball behind. The ball in from Morris found Luke Leahy whose powerful headed effort was turned onto the bar by Placide, allowing Jack Fitzwater to collect the rebound and fire the Saddlers into the lead.

The visiting side were presented with an opportunity to double their advantage two minutes before the break, as Nicky Devlin beat his man before sending a cross-come-shot in from the right, but Placide was on hand for Oldham to push the ball clear.

Just seconds before the referee called time on the half, Nazon picked up the ball in the box and fired it into the bottom corner to bring the sides level. The sides headed in for their half-time refreshments as their respective managers rapidly altered their team-talks accordingly.

1 - 1

The teams returned unchanged following the break and Walsall got the second-half underway. The Saddlers were quick to get the ball forward, with Leahy setting up George Dobson in the forty-eighth minute, but Dobson’s shot sailed wide.

The game became something of a midfield battle as the sides settled back in. In the fifty-fourth minute, a good move from Oldham saw a long ball from Dan Gardner find Eoin Doyle. Doyle did well to get the ball to Byrne, but the shot on goal was blocked by the Saddlers defences.

The home side won the ball back quickly and almost took the lead, as Fitzwater almost diverted a Nazon effort into his own net, but Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts got back quickly to pull off a one-handed save, turning the ball behind. The resulting corner was swung in by Byrne, hitting the crossbar before trickling out for a goal-kick.

Oldham continued to press, and with an hour on the clock, almost found the breakthrough as Nazon beat his man as he raced into the box before unleashing a powerful shot towards the top corner, but Roberts was again on hand to keep the Saddlers level, putting the ball behind. The flag-kick was again swung into the box by Byrne, with the ball eventually finding Ousmane Fane, whose shot deflected behind, with the second corner coming to nothing.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the sixty-eighth minute whilst Jon Guthrie received treatment. Both sides took the opportunity to make their first changes of the evening, with the Saddlers replacing Julien Ngoy with Justin Shaibu for the run-in, whilst Oldham brought off Duckens Nazon in favour of Aaron Amadi-Holloway. Guthrie returned following the changes and was able to continue.

In the seventy second minute, Kieron Morris found himself in shooting range, but his effort was easily saved by Placide. Two minutes later, with the ball back at the other end, Roberts was on hand for the Saddlers to make an easy save himself to deny Doyle.

Fifteen minutes from time, Oldham opted to make their second change of the evening, replacing Patrick McEleney with Tope Obadeyi.

With seventy-eight minutes on the clock, Nicky Devlin became the first player to see yellow, picking up a card for a reckless challenge on Moimbe. The free-kick was swung into the box but resulted in Aaron Amadi-Holloway picking up the second yellow card of the evening for handball.

The game again became something of a midfield battle as we raced rapidly towards full-time, but eighty-eight minutes in, the Saddlers were awarded a free-kick, with was played in by Dobson and met by Guthrie, who headed goal-wards forcing Placide to tip the ball over, and the resulting corner came to nothing.

In the ninetieth minute, Oldham opted to make their third and final change of the evening, with Jack Byrne making way for Craig Davies.

Three additional minutes were played to end the game, but neither side was able to create any further chances of note, and both settled for a share of the spoils. A somewhat improved display from Walsall overall and a decent point on the road.

1 - 1
Nazon (45')
Fitzwater (34')
Attendance: 3,424 (237)
Referee: Darren England

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