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Match Report: Walsall 1 Northampton Town 0

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One relegation six-pointer between Walsall and Northampton Town.
Walsall arrived at this weekend's match on the back of another disappointing defeat, this time they were beaten by Play-Off chasing Scunthorpe United, who secured the win via Ryan Yates' second-half header as Walsall edged ever-closer to the relegation zone.

Walsall began the game brightly, winning a free-kick just a minute in. The ball was swung into the box and Northampton Town failed to clear the danger, but Jon Guthrie was unable to convert.

The visiting side were quick to create their first chance of the afternoon, working the ball up to the other end moments later, with Daniel Powell bursting into the box and firing an effort goal-wards, but Liam Roberts was on hand to turn the ball onto the post before catching the rebound.

The Saddlers won the first corner of the game in the fourth minute, as Nicky Devlin caused Matt Crooks and David Buchanan to combine to put the ball behind. The ball was swung in for Kieron Morris, but his shot on goal was blocked. Moments later, Erhun Oztumer looked to set Amadou Bakayoko up, but the Northampton defences were alert and cleared the danger before the big striker could get a shot away.

The frenetic pace continued, with Sam Hoskins setting up Matt Grimes in the eighth minute, but the powerful goal-bound effort was blocked by the Saddlers defences.

With thirteen minutes on the clock, Walsall won a second corner, as a dangerous ball across the face of goal from Luke Leahy was put behind by Northampton captain, Ash Taylor just ahead of an on-rushing Bakayoko. The ball was swung into the box, where former Saddler, Richard O'Donnell was on hand to punch clear.

The pace then slowed a little as both teams settled into the game, but twenty-three minutes in, the visiting side almost opened the scoring as Crooks beat his man as he raced into the box before firing an effort goal-wards, where, fortunately for the Saddlers, Kory Roberts was on hand to turn the ball off the line.

Three minutes later, Northampton were awarded a free-kick, which Grimes whipped in towards the back-post, sailing inches wide of the upright.

Oztumer looked to be in on goal as we reached the half hour mark, as the midfielder picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area, but some good positioning from Leon Barnett allowed the defender to block and clear.

There was a brief pause in proceedings as we headed into the thirty-fifth minute as Walsall captain, Adam Chambers received treatment for an injury to his back following a collision with O'Toole, but the Saddlers skipper was soon back to his feet ready to continue.

Northampton felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the fortieth minute, as Crooks was felled in the box, but the referee was unmoved and waved away their appeals.

Shaun McWilliams picked up the first yellow card of the game in the final minute of the first-half, for a foul on Oztumer.

One additional minute was played to end the half, but neither side was able to create anything further and the sides returned to their respective dressing rooms with the scores tied.

0 - 0

The sides returned unchanged after the break, and the second half got underway. Walsall won a free-kick just a minute into the half, but the Northampton defences were quick to clear the danger and launch a counter-attack, with Crooks and McWilliams combining well, before the latter blazed a shot over the bar from the edge of the box.

With forty-eight minutes on the clock, Erhun Oztumer became the second player to see yellow, picking up a caution for a foul on Powell.

The visiting side continued to press, working the ball into shooting range again in the fifty-first minute, but Crooks ten yard effort sailed over the bar without troubling Liam Roberts in the Walsall goal.

In the fifty-sixth minute, Northampton won a corner as a cross from Crooks was cleared behind, but Liam Roberts was on hand for the hosts to claim as the ball came in. Moments later, with the ball at the other end, the Saddlers almost opened the scoring as Oztumer met the ball at the far-post, but the midfielders effort trickled wide.

Less than a minute later, Oztumer turned provider as he played in Devlin, who fired an effort straight into the waiting arms of O'Donnell when he really should have put his side a goal ahead.

Leon Barnett picked up a yellow card in the sixty-second minute for a foul on Oztumer.

Both sides enjoyed a few half-chances as the match continued apace, but neither side was able to make use of their opportunities in front of goal. The Saddlers were awarded a free-kick in the seventy-second minute, which was met by Kory Roberts who fired an effort wide.

With seventy-three minutes on the clock, a Northampton corner was turned home, but a foul on Liam Roberts ensured the goal would not stand and a free-kick instead awarded.

The visiting side won another corner in the seventy-sixth minute, which Grimes swung into the box before the Walsall defences hacked it clear. Just a minute later, Northampton were again unlucky not to score as a cross from Grimes sailed over his teammates before connecting with the far-post and the Walsall 'keeper allowing the Saddlers defences to clear the danger.

With seventy-eight minutes on the clock, Town opted to make their first changes of the game, with Kevin van Veen and Chris Long taking the places of Shaun McWilliams and Matt Crooks.

As we headed into the final ten minutes, John-Joe O'Toole picked up a yellow card for a foul on Oztumer.

The Saddlers won a corner in the eighty-fourth minute as they continued to search for a late goal, causing Barnett to turn the ball behind. Oztumer swung the ball in, but O'Donnell was on hand to claim. Moments later, the hosts really should have opened the scoring as a Morris cross into the box found the head of Devlin, but the headed effort sailed wide of the post.

Four additional minutes were played to end the game, and just seconds into them, George Dobson found the breakthrough, converting a Bakayoko cut-back to put his side ahead. After a brief halt to proceedings as fans were escorted from the pitch, the action got back underway as the Saddlers made their first change of the game, replacing Erhun Oztumer with Florent Cuvelier for the final few minutes.

There was no further action of note, as Walsall held on to their narrow lead to take all three points, effectively relegating their opponents and improving dramatically their own chances of remaining in League One for next season.

1 - 0
Dobson (90+1')

Attendance: 8,919 (1,993)
Referee: Seb Stockbridge

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