Match Report: Walsall 2 Ajax Amsterdam 0 Match Report: Walsall 2 Ajax Amsterdam 0
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Match Report: Walsall 2 Ajax Amsterdam 0

Here is our Match Report from Thursday evening's pre-season clash between Walsall and visitors, Ajax.
Dean Keates' side were yet to secure a victory during their pre-season campaign having suffered defeats to Rushall Olympic, Stoke City and Aston Villa and were unlikely to find their task any easier as they welcomed Dutch giants Ajax to Banks's Stadium.

Walsall started the game brightly, almost creating something in just the second minute, as Kieron Morris worked the ball forwards and looked for Amadou Bakayoko with a good pass in the box, but the big forward was just unable to get anything on the cross.

Both sides enjoyed plenty of time on the ball as the match continued, with neither able to create anything in front of goal. Nine minutes in, AFC Ajax were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position and almost opened the scoring, only to find the crossbar hampering Siem De Jong as his shot rattled the woodwork.

Zeli Ismail looked to grab the first goal of the game in the twelfth minute as he raced up-field before unleashing a shot on goal, but he was unable to keep the ball down and it sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

The game continued with half-chances for both sides, as some good work from Ryan Gravenberch culminated in Chris Dunn making a solid save, before, back at the other end, the Saddlers were awarded a free-kick which Luke Leahy played into the box with none of his team-mates able to get a final touch on the ball to turn it home.

Moments later, Leahy again looked to create something as he marched down the left-wing before picking out an unmarked Ismail at the back post with a fine cross, but the ball eventually sailed over the crossbar without troubling the visiting ‘keeper.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the twenty-second minute as Bakayoko received treatment, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Twenty-seven minutes in, Walsall found the breakthrough as Andy Cook rose highest to meet a fabulous in-swinging cross from Tom Brewitt to nod the ball past Kostas Lamprou.

In the immediate aftermath of the goal, the Saddlers were forced to make their first change of the evening as Amadou Bakayoko made way for D. Trialist.

Ajax looked for a quick reply, which they almost found in the thirty-first minute thanks to some good work from Kasper Dolberg who picked out Zakaria Labyad with a lovely pass, but C. Trialist was on hand for the Saddlers to block the effort.

The visiting side continued to search for an equalising goal as the match continued, playing some lovely passing football in the Walsall half, but the Saddlers defences stood firm and limited their opponents to speculative efforts from distance.

The Saddlers stood firm and held onto their lead heading into the break.

1 - 0

Walsall made a raft of changes as they came out for the second half as Dean Keates continued to assess his squad ahead of the upcoming League One campaign, while Ajax made just the one substitution as Dani De Wit took the place of Siem De Jong.

Ajax started the half brightly, winning a corner just a minute in, which was swung into the box, making it’s way through a group of players before the recently introduced Liam Roberts got his hands to it.

The Saddlers weren’t short of a chance themselves, almost converting a cross into the box in the fifty-fourth minute before, three minutes later, a fabulous flick-on from Cook found Dylan Parker who fired an effort narrowly wide of the upright.

As we reached the hour mark, the Saddlers opted to make a further change to their line-up, as Jordon Sangha came on in place of Tom Brewitt. Ajax also took the opportunity to make a second change to their team, with Kaj Sierhuis taking the place of Zakaria Labyad.

Moments after his introduction, Sangha found himself in the thick of the action, stinging the palms of the travelling ‘keeper who did well to get behind the powerful shot. Unfortunately for the Saddlers, Parker was unable to get to the ball ahead of the scrambling Lamprou who was eventually able to gather.

Ajax won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the sixty-eighth minute, which was swung into the box and met by an Ajax head. He should have done better, being allowed to break into space ahead of two Walsall players before sending a headed effort sailing high over the bar.

With seventy minutes on the clock, the Saddlers doubled their advantage after a move which saw some neat passing in the box from the hosts culminated in Kouhyar passing the ball across goal to Cook, who duly fired a right-footed effort into the bottom corner.

Moments after the goal, the Saddlers opted to make another change, as B. Trialist was adjudged to have done enough for the evening and Sam Leivesley was given a twenty minute run-out in his place.

Both sides enjoyed plenty of possession as the game continued, without creating anything of note before, in the seventy-sixth minute, Walsall opted to further change their team with Mitchel Candlin taking the place of Andy Cook.

Ajax should have pulled a goal back in the seventy-ninth minute, but some superb goalkeeping  saw Dennis Johnsen’s effort parried before Roberts’ Walsall team-mates, eventually, cleared the danger.

The visiting side continued to press as they looked to get back into the game, and were almost successful in the eighty-second minute as the Saddlers lead was only saved by the crossbar as Jurgen Ekkelenkamp beat Dobson to get a shot away.

Both sides enjoyed late chances, but neither was able to truly test the goalkeepers before the referee called time on the game. The Saddlers running out two-nil victors over their Eredivisie opponents. A good evening for the home side who put on a decent display both upfront and in defence bringing hope for the season ahead.

2 - 0
Cook (27', 70')

Attendance: 2,449
Referee: John Brooks
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