Match Report: Walsall 0 Blackpool 0

Here is our Match Report from Saturday's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall, and visitors, Blackpool.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's clash on the back of a disappointing midweek Carabao Cup - Round Two defeat to Macclefield Town. Dean Keates' side were without defeat before their meeting with the Silkmen and were looking to get back to winning ways as they welcomed the Seasiders to Banks's Stadium.

Jay Spearing got the got the game underway, and his team started brightly with the Saddlers having to defend a first minute cross, which they just managed to do. It wasn’t long before Walsall had the ball at the other end though, winning a free-kick in the sixth minute, which Walsall captain, George Dobson was unable to get to a team-mate ahead of Mark Howard who claimed and set Blackpool racing away through Marc Cullen in a move which culminated in a cross from Joe Dodoo flashing across the face of goal.

The early frenetic pace continued, with Dobson again involved in the ninth minute, as he set Morgan Ferrier away, but the effort on goal sailed high over the crossbar. Moments later, back at the other end, Nathan Delfouneso won a free-kick for his side in a dangerous position, but the Walsall defences were eventually able to scramble clear, before Dodoo picked up the loose ball and fired wide.

The visiting side continued to enjoy the best of the early possession, and almost opened the scoring after thirteen minutes, as a powerful long-range shot from Jordan Thompson looked to be finding the target until Jack Fitzwater got a head to it to turn it away from goal.

Walsall began to see more of the ball as the game continued and looked dangerous when they were able to break, but the Blackpool defences were equal to them, cutting out attacks from both Ferrier and Andy Cook before either were able to get a shot away. The hosts then won a corner thanks to some good work from Nicky Devlin who saw his cross deflected behind, but the ball in was easily claimed by Howard.

Liam Roberts was tested in the twenty-first minute, as the visitors won a corner which called the Walsall shot-stopper into action, but he was able to claim, before setting Kieron Morris away with a long throw. Morris raced up-field, before being brought to a halt with a trip from Spearing on the edge of the area, winning his side a free-kick. Zeli Ismail stepped up to take the set-piece, which he struck well but with just a little too much height as the ball whistled inches over the bar.

The game became something of a midfield battle as it progressed, but the Seasiders went close to opening the scoring in the twenty-ninth minute, with a Curtis Tilt header from a corner being cleared off the line by a well-placed Dobson.

The visitors continued to look the most likely to score, and a foul on Ollie Turton in the thirty-fourth minute saw the side awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position, twenty-five yards from goal, but Dodoo’s dipping effort sailed just over the crossbar without troubling the man between the sticks.

Four minutes later, the visitors did test Roberts, with a powerful shot from Spearing causing the ‘keeper problems, but after beating the ball into the air, the shot-stopper was able to gather at the second time of asking.

The match again became something of a midfield battle as we raced towards half-time, but with forty-four minutes on the clock, Ollie Turton picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon, for a foul on Morris, moments before the board went up to show one additional minute would be played.

Walsall were unlucky not to take a one-goal lead into the break, as the hosts failed to deal with a whipped cross from Ismail, but Fitzwater was unable to turn the ball home, when he really should have scored ensuring the sides headed back down the tunnel with the score remaining tied.

0 - 0

Blackpool opted to make their first change as the teams returned following the break, with Joe Dodoo sitting out the second half as Liam Feeney took his place, before Walsall got the second forty-five underway.

The visitors created the first chance of the half, just three minutes in, with the substitute getting on the end of a Delfouneso cross at the back post, but the midfielder was unable to keep the ball on target, heading over.

The match returned to a battle in midfield as it continued, with Blackpool looking the more likely to create something, without actually testing Roberts. Ten minutes into the half, they really should have opened the scoring, winning a corner thanks to a good cross from Delfouneso, which Fitzwater was forced to turn behind. The ball in was turned away by Roberts, but Cullen got to the loose ball and fired it back towards goal from six yards, but his effort sailed harmlessly behind when he should have buried it.

Blackpool continued to press, and an hour in looked likely to find the first goal of the afternoon but Dobson threw his body on the line to block with first his face, then his body, before forcing Nottingham to fire wide. The Seasiders then won a corner moments later, which Tilt rose well to get a head to, but he was unable to keep the ball on target, sending his effort well wide of the upright.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their first change of the afternoon as they looked to get a foothold in the game, with Andy Cook making way for Josh Gordon.

Five minutes later, after a quiet spell, the visitors made their second change of the afternoon, with Harry Pritchard taking the place of Jordan Thompson for the final twenty or so minutes, and three minutes later, the side opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Mark Cullen was replaced by Armand Gnanduillet.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the seventy-seventh minute, allowing Gordon to receive treatment for a cut to his head, but he was soon bandaged and able to continue.

There was little real action as the game raced towards it’s conclusion, with neither side able to get forwards to test their opposition ‘keepers, though five minutes from time a shot from Pritchard did bring Roberts into action to claim after it took a deflection on it’s way through the box.

Five minutes from time, Walsall chose to make their second change of the afternoon as they set about looking for a late winner, with Zeli Ismail departing the field and Kane Wilson taking his place.

Wilson almost made an immediate impact as, unmarked, he met a Luke Leahy corner, but the his headed effort trickled wide of the upright and the scores remained tied. Moments later, back at the other end, an offside decision against Delfouneso who had rounded the ‘keeper and slotted home, ensured we would head into six additional minutes without a goal on the board.

There was little further action as time ebbed away, but in the final of the six minutes Pritchard and Gnanduillet combined, with the latter ultimately firing wide which would be the last of the day’s action as full-time was called with the score still as it had been at the start of the afternoon, both sides taking a point apiece from the fixture. Not their best display of the season, but enough to ensure the Saddlers undefeated league run continues.

0 - 0

Attendance: 4,762 (364)
Referee: Lee Swabey
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