Match Report: Rushall Olympic 2 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Friday evening's pre-season friendly between Rushall Olympic and Walsall, which took place at the Pics' Dales Lane.
The Saddlers arrived at the match in a positive frame of mind as manager Dean Keates, who had added Andy Cook, Chris Dunn, Josh Ginnelly and Zeli Ismail to his squad, looked to build his side's fitness ahead of the season-opening clash with Plymouth Argyle.

The home side settled well and were the first to register an effort on goal as Walsall 'keeper Liam Roberts was forced into action as he parried a long-range effort, nothing too troubling as the scores remained level.

The Saddlers also looked to create an opening as recent arrival Andy Cook held the ball up for an onrushing Mitchel Candlin. Nothing came of the move, but good to see the two strikers able to work together, even in the early stages of their relationship.

With just over ten minutes on the clock, our hosts continued their good start and saw a header flash over the bar as Justin Richards was on hand to send Sam Whittall's deep cross over Liam Roberts' crossbar.

Summer signing Zeli Ismail displayed some pace down the wing but was unable to grab an assist as Cook headed his cross high and wide over the bar, as we continued in search of the game's opening goal.

Zeli, who continued to provide passing options for his teammates, had an effort of his own soon after Cook's wayward header as, following some neat midfield play from Liam Kinsella, he lashed an effort over the bar from range.

Luke Little also looked to provide an opening for Cook but was unable to pick out the pass as his run down the wing came to nothing, the game continues without a goal.

The Pics continued to provide an attacking threat as Ben Lund broke down the right wing and provided Justin Richards with a good goal-scoring opportunity, but the attacker was unable to convert as he slipped the ball wide from the dangerous cross. A good chance going begging as the match continued.

With tonight's match using the 'roll on, roll off' substitution system, Saddlers boss Dean Keates made some changes with Zeli Ismail, Josh Ginnelly and Mitchel Candlin making way for Tobias Hayles-Docherty, Dylan Parker, and the as-yet-unnamed, B.Trialist!

Not long after the pink-booted B.Trialist had found the clubhouse roof with an effort from a free-kick, Andy Cook broke down the centre of the pitch, beat his marker, and sent a left-footed effort over the bar. Close, but not close enough.

The game's first goal arrived with just over five minutes of the half remaining as Justin Richards poked the ball over the line following some neat play from Yusifu Ceesay, who broke into the box after displaying some nice footwork down the left.

There were no further goals or chances of note as we reached the break with the home side leading by one-goal-to-nil.

1 - 0

Walsall changed many of their players for the second-half as Dean Keates continued to explore his options. The manager continued to play with a 4-4-2 formation as he looks to add to the Saddlers' attacking threat.

Walsall looked to level the scores early in the second-half as young striker Dylan Parker found Amadou Bakayoko in space. Sadly the Sierra Leone-born forwards was unable to capitalise on the opening as he looked to round the 'keeper only to over do his touch as the home defence cleared the danger.

Around ten minutes into the second-half Dylan Parker and Tobias Hayles-Docherty were the next to experience the 'roll on-roll off' system as they were replaced by Maziar Kouhyar and Kieron Morris.

Kieron Morris was swiftly called into action as he tested Pics 'keeper Joe Slinn with a long-range effort, the shot was parried away as defender Michael Townsend cleared ahead of an alert Bakayoko.

Walsall continued to search for their first goal as left-back Luke Leahy sent a curling free-kick towards goal. His 25-yard effort was superbly tipped over the bar by an alert Slinn, who continued to keep his sheet clean.

The Pics, who had also made a plethora of half-time changes, went very close to extending their lead as they forced Walsall 'keeper Chris Dunn into a superb double save. Gaz Singh was the first to have an effort saved before former Saddlers trialist Ashley Sammons was also denied as Dunn  regained his feet to parry the ball.

Ashley Sammons, a former Birmingham City, Redditch United and Solihull Moors midfielder, continued to provide a threat and forced Dunn into another save soon after his first as he parried a curling free-kick to keep the Saddlers within a goal of levelling the scores.

Walsall's search for an equaliser ended with less than twenty-minutes of the game remaining as B.Trialist brushed off his man and saw a low but powerful effort squirm under the 'keeper and level the scores. Slinn will be disappointed to concede as he did manage to get a hand to the effort but was unable to prevent it from crossing the line.

The Saddlers continued to explore their options as both the trialists, one of which we believe is Oliver Marx - a former Wrexham prospect - were substituted for Sam Leivesley and Cameron Peters.

Amadou Bakayoko, who continues to be linked with a potential summer departure, was the next to have an effort on goal as he forced the 'keeper into action with a sweetly struck drive from just out wide.

The scores were not level for long as the home side regained their advantage with eighty-two minutes on the clock as Gaz Singh's dangerous cross was sliced home by an unlucky Nicky Devlin. He needed to deal with the danger, but possibly not like that.

Before the match reached its conclusion Walsall went close to levelling the scores once again as Jordon Sangha sent Cameron Peters' pass wide of goal. There were no further chances as the referee signalled full-time. A good run out for the Saddlers, though not the result they'd have wanted.

2 - 1
Richards (39')
Devlin OG (82')
B.Trialist (72')

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