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Match Report: Walsall 2 AFC Wimbledon 3

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Dean Keates' Walsall and Neil Ardley's AFC Wimbledon.
Dean Keates' side arrived at the match on the back of Wednesday evening's draw with fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic with the Saddlers looking secure all three points and to edge further away from the relegation zone.

Walsall started the game brightly, winning a corner in just the second minute after a left-footed shot from Luke Leahy was parried. The flag-kick was swung into the box where it was met by George Dobson who fired an effort goal-wards forcing a Wimbledon defender to put his body in the way to block.

The Saddlers good start continued, and with just seven minutes on the clock they took the lead with a curling free-kick from Erhun Oztumer finding Jack Fitzwater who guided the ball past George Long in the Wimbledon goal to put his side ahead.

Not content with their one-goal lead, Walsall went looking for a quick second, with Long doing well to deny Florent Cuvelier in the ninth minute, but the game soon settled down with both sides enjoying spells of possession without troubling their respective opposition goalkeepers.

After a quiet spell, which included a short break in play due to a head injury, Wimbledon won a corner in the twenty-fifth minute as Nicky Devlin was forced to put the ball behind. After a little trouble, which saw Fitzwater pick up the first yellow card of the game, the ball was swung in, but Liam Roberts remained alert in the Walsall goal and collected.

There was another stoppage in the twenty-eighth minute allowing Harry Forrester to receive treatment for a back injury. He was soon back up and able to continue, but his return was short-lived, as with just thirty-two minutes on the clock, Wimbledon were forced into their first change of the afternoon as Darius Barcham took his place.

The Dons piled on the pressure after the enforced substitution, going close in the thiry-fifth minute through the recently introduced Barcham whose goal-bound effort was blocked by Cuvelier, before Tom Soares fired wide. The visiting side continued to seek an equaliser but were unable to convert any of their half-chances as the Saddlers defences stood firm.

After seeing off a spell of pressure, the Saddlers worked the ball up to the other end in the forty-first minute, where Amadou Bakayoko won his side a corner as his shot took a deflection on it’s way out. The flag-kick was swung into the box and the Wimbledon defences half-cleared, but only as far as Fitzwater who caused the Long problems with his shot, but the visiting defences were able to mop up and keep themselves within a goal of their hosts.

The Saddlers doubled their advantage in the forty-fifth minute, as, somewhat against the run of play, a ball down the right was chased down by Julien Ngoy who beat two defenders before slipping a left-footed strike past Long.

Four additional minutes were added to end the half, during which time there was another pause in play for a spell of treatment as Barcham went down requiring assistance. There was little further action before the half-time whistle was sounded and the sides headed off down the tunnel with the Saddlers in possession of a two-goal advantage.

2 - 0

Wimbledon opted to make their second change of the afternoon as the sides returned, as Jimmy Abdou entered the fray in place of Tom Soares as the second half got underway.

With just forty-eight minutes on the clock, the visitors were gifted an opportunity to pull one back as Devlin brought down Barcham in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Lyle Taylor stepped up to take the spot-kick, and Roberts was on hand to push the ball away, but Joe Pigott was well placed to slam home the rebound to bring his side to within a goal of their hosts.

Wimbledon should have drawn level in the fifty-first minute, as a long throw found Taylor, whose volley smashed into Roberts’ upright. Unperturbed, the visitors continued to press and again went close in the fifty-fifth minute as a searching cross from Taylor narrowly missed Pigott in certain scoring position.

Walsall were forced to make their first change in the fifty-ninth minute, as Jack Fitzwater picked up an injury and was promptly replaced by Kory Roberts.

The visiting side continued to look the brighter as the match continued, with Liam Roberts again being called into action in the sixty-second minute to deny Taylor with his legs.

With sixty-five minutes on the clock, the Dons found an equalising goal, as a clearance from Long found Taylor who drilled his shot home.

Walsall were keen to recapture their lead, and soon had the ball up at the other end, but after cutting inside his man, Ngoy’s effort on goal was easily saved by Long. The Dons were soon back in command though, enjoying much of the possession whilst struggling to create any further real chances.

There was another brief halt to proceedings in the seventy-ninth minute, whilst Taylor received treatment for an injury. The Saddlers opted to make their second change of the afternoon during the pause, with Florent Cuvelier making way for Kieron Morris as Taylor re-joined the action.

Ten minutes from time, Luke Leahy was added to the referee’s notebook for a foul on Barry Fuller. The free-kick was played into the box and almost fell for Charles, but Kory Roberts was on hand for the Saddlers and turned the ball behind, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Wimbledon opted to make their final change in the eighty-second minute, with Barry Fuller making way for George Francomb.

Moments after the change, Joe Pigott joined Leahy in the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a foul on Walsall captain, Adam Chambers.

Just five minutes from time, the Saddlers made their third and final change of the afternoon, as Erhun Oztumer departed the game early in favour of Justin Shaibu.

Five minutes were added to end the match. In the fifth of these minutes, Wimbledon were awarded their second penalty of the game as Taylor was brought down in the area by Kory Roberts. Dean Parrett stepped up to take the spot-kick and smashed the ball into the roof of the net to claim all three points for his side. Another disappointing afternoon for the Saddlers, who again proved unable to hold onto a lead.

2 - 3
Fitzwater (6')
Ngoy (45')

Pigott (48')
Taylor (65')
Parrett PEN (90+6')
Attendance: 4,663 (733 Dons)
Referee: Mark Heywood

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