Match Report: Barnsley 1 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and hosts, Barnsley.
Both the Saddlers and Tykes have started the league season in fine fettle, and find themselves among the form sides in the country, a run which both teams were keen to continue as they met on Saturday afternoon.

Daniel Stendel’s Barnsley side got the match underway, with the hosts taking little time to win the first corner of the game, as they forced Luke Leahy to turn the ball out of play, but the Walsall defences were alert to clear the danger.

The hosts continued to enjoy plenty of early possession, with Mamadou Thaim going close in the fourth minute from twenty-five yards, but the effort sailed wide without really troubling Liam Roberts in the Walsall goal. Moments later, with the ball at the other end, Josh Gordon looked to set up George Dobson, but his captain also fired his effort wide.

Barnsley soon had the ball back, and some neat work from Liam Lindsay culminated in a pass to the back-post reaching Thiam, whose effort on goal sailed high over the crossbar. The Saddlers soon had the ball back at the other end again thanks to some clever play down the right from Connor Ronan, whose pass found Morgan Ferrier before the ball found Josh Gordon from a partial clearance, but the forwards effort from the edge of the box sailed out of play.

Walsall began to get more of a foothold in the game as the action continued and should have opened the scoring in the fourteenth minute as a move started by Gordon saw Nicky Devlin trick his way through the Barnsley defences to play in Ferrier, but Jack Walton remained alert in the hosts goal and tipped the headed effort over the bar. A superb move from the ‘keeper to ensure the ball stayed out.

Barnsley again began to get more into the game as the rain lashed down, forcing a save from Roberts in the twentieth minute, as captain Kieffer Moore tried his luck from range, but the Walsall shot-stopper did enough to parry the effort, with nobody on hand to follow up, thankfully for the visitors.

The hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty twenty-five minutes in, as Mike-Steven Bahre appeared to have been tripped in the box by Devlin, but the referee was unmoved and waved play on.

The early pace slowed a little as conditions forced the action into something of a midfield battle, as the players slid about on the wet surface, but thirty-two minutes in, Barnsley won a corner as a cross from Thiam was turned behind, but the Saddlers defences stood firm and cleared the danger. It wasn’t long before the Saddlers won a couple of corners themselves, but they were unable to make anything of the opportunity.

Both sides continued to search for an opener as time ran down and five minutes from the break, Dimitri Cavare found himself in shooting range for the hosts, but his left-footed effort from outside the box sailed out of play. Moments later, a good move from George Moncur saw the midfielder beat Jon Guthrie as he cut into the box before firing an effort straight into the chest of Roberts who comfortably held.

Walsall went close moments later, as Ferrier played the ball across goal to Josh Ginnelly who played the ball back to Dobson ten yards from goal, but the Barnsley defences were alert to pull off a late block to keep the scores tied. Ronan then picked up the loose ball and fired an effort goal-wards as he looked to grab a late advantage for his side, but Walton was well placed to gather.

After one additional minute was played to end the half, the sides headed back down the tunnel with the scores still tied at nil-nil. Not the greatest half, but some good defensive displays on show.

0 - 0

The hosts opted to make a change to their line-up ahead of the second half, with Victor Adeboyejo taking the place of Cameron McGeehan as Walsall got the game re-started. The visitors starting brightly, winning a corner just a minute into the half, as a Luke Leahy shot was diverted behind by Alex Mowatt. From the flag-kick Gordon found himself unmarked as a headed cross came his way, but the forward was unable to keep his close range effort on target, looping the ball out of play when he really should have scored.

Walsall continued to look the brighter of the sides in the early goings, with Ferrier combining well with Leahy five minutes in, but the defender was unable to find the mark with his cross-come-shot from the left and the scores remained tied.

Against the run of play, a very unfortunate Jack Fitzwater opened the scoring, turning the ball into his own net. Roberts doing well to save the initial shot from half-time substitute, Adeboyejo, following a corner, before catching his defender with the rebound, which pushed the ball into the post before it crossed the line. A disappointing moment for the Saddlers who had looked by far the more likely to score.

With sixty-two minutes on the clock, Isaiah Osbourne picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon, for a foul on Mowatt.

The Tykes began to get more into the game as time ticked away, and could have doubled their advantage through Mowatt in the sixty-fourth minute, but the midfielders left-footed shot from outside the box was saved by Roberts, before, two minutes later, Thiam picked up the ball at the back post following some good work from Moore, but fortunately for the Saddlers, he attempted a first time shot, firing the ball over the bar.

Seventy-seven minutes in, the Saddlers won a corner, from which Barnsley broke with Devlin the only man back to cover. Looking for his second of the afternoon, Adeboyejo fired an effort goal-wards, but Roberts pulled off a superb save to deny him.

Nine minutes from time, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon as they looked to restore parity, Josh Ginnelly the man to make way as Andy Cook entered the fray.

Three minutes later, with little action in the intervening period, the Saddlers opted to make their second change of the day, with Josh Gordon making way for Kieron Morris.

Walsall continued to search for a late equaliser, winning a corner in the eighty-sixth minute as they forced Cavare to put the ball behind, but Ethan Pinnock was on hand to clear the danger for the hosts, keeping his sides lead intact. The hosts then countered through Moncur but the move soon broke down.

The visitors continued to probe as they looked to draw level, and almost found a way in the eighty-seventh minute as Morris and Fitzwater combined, but the latter’s eight yard effort sailed wide, when he really should have scored.

Moments later, the Saddlers were more fortunate, as an eighty-eighth minute ball fell to Cook in the box, with the striker turning his man before firing past Walton to level the scores.

Four additional minutes were played to end the match, with Kieron Morris seeing yellow in the third of them for a trip from behind on Moore. Roberts was then tasked with saving the point for his side as a Moncur effort bobbled through to the back post, where the Walsall shot-stopper was on hand to tip the ball behind, before the resulting corner was cleared.

That would be the last real action of the afternoon, as the referee brought an end to the game with the scores tied at one-goal-apiece. A superb performance from both sides defences who had much to do, with the ultimate result probably being a fair one, keeping both teams unbeaten records intact as they head into their eighth game of the League One campaign next weekend.

1 - 1
Fitzwater OG (55')
Cook (88')
Attendance: 11,468
Referee: Craig Hicks
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