Match Report: Walsall 0 Stoke City 3

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's pre-season friendly between Dean Keates' Saddlers and Gary Rowett's Stoke City.
Walsall began their pre-season campaign with a disappointing defeat to Rushall Olympic and went into this afternoon's match hoping to secure a more favourable result as they welcomed the recently-relegated Potters to Banks's Stadium.

The match didn't start well for the Saddlers as Dean Keates's side fell behind with just three minutes on the clock as Bojan Krkic picked up the ball just inside the Walsall half and went fairly unopposed as he smashed a shot low under Liam Roberts in the home goal. A disappointing start for the men in red.

Sadly for the home side, their afternoon wasn't about to get any better as Ibrahim Afellay took inspiration from Bojan and also crashed a long-distance effort past Roberts in the Walsall goal. Plenty of work for the Saddlers to do with just five minutes on the clock.

Walsall's first real shot of the match didn't arrive until the twenty-minute mark of the first-half as the ever-present A.Trialist, believed to be a Cypriot attacker, forced Stoke stopper Adam Federici into action with a right-footed effort. Laying the ball off to summer signing Andy Cook seemed to be the better option, but at least the Saddlers had a shot in the books.

As the match reached the thirty-minute mark midfielder George Dobson was the next man in red to have a shot. Sadly, his effort was tame and drifted wide of goal following some encouraging wing-play from summer signing Zeli Ismail.

Zeli had a shot of his own some time later as, following some neat, driving football from A.Trialist, who did well to advance down the pitch, he broke into the box and lifted the ball over the bar. Some good build up play but a disappointing finish from the former Wolves winger. This would prove to be the final effort of the half as the referee soon called for half-time.

0 - 2

Both sides were due to make a number of changes at the break with the managers looking to give match minutes to as many players as possible, with the all-important season kicking off in three week's time.

Dean Keates initially opted to remain unchanged. While former Walsall loanee Julian Ngoy was among Stoke City's ten substitutes, he lined up alongside Peter Crouch for the second-half.

The first goal of the second-half arrived on the hour mark as veteran striker Peter Crouch was on hand to flick Erik Pieters' cross past Liam Roberts from close range. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting with a good attacking run to find Pieters in space.

A disappointing goal for the Saddlers as their Championship opponents continued to dominate the scoring. The Potters' third goal triggered a raft of changes for the Saddlers as manager Dean Keates explored his options, making nine changes with only Liam Roberts and Kory Roberts remaining in the pitch.

Walsall's next effort fell to Kieron Morris as the winger sent a sweetly-struck volley wide of goal with around seventy-minutes on the clock. Nothing worthy of testing the 'keeper, but a shot towards goal at least.

The Saddlers went close to cutting the deficit late in the half as Liam Kinsella combined with Dylan Parker, the latter finding Mitchel Candlin in space. The hot-prospect turned into space before crossing for Morris who could only head wide at the far post.

Walsall's afternoon went from bad to worse as defender Kory Roberts landed awkwardly and appeared to injure his leg. After several minutes of treatment from both clubs physio's, and a concerned visit from Joe Edwards, the highly-rated defender was stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Cameron Peters.

There were no further goals or shots of note as the match ended with a comfortable scoreline for the visitors.

Our thoughts go out to Kory Roberts, hoping for a speedy recovery.

0 - 3

Bojan (3')
Afellay (5')
Crouch (60')
Attendance: 1,869 (970)
Referee: Oliver Langford
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