Match Report: Bristol Rovers 0 Walsall 1 Match Report: Bristol Rovers 0 Walsall 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Bristol Rovers 0 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and hosts, Bristol Rovers.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's match following the midweek draw with near-rivals Shrewsbury Town - a disappointing result given the number of chances created - and in search of their first win in three league games.

Bristol Rovers got the match underway, but it was Walsall who began the brighter, with Andy Cook setting Morgan Ferrier through on goal in the opening minute, but the strikers low effort from inside the area was comfortably saved by Rovers ‘keeper Jack Bonham.

The hosts quickly regained composure and began to enjoy plenty of the ball, creating their own opening chance inside four minutes after winning a free-kick out on the right as Daniel Leadbitter was body-checked by Josh Ginnelly. Chris Lines was on hand to deliver the set-piece into the box, but Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts was well placed to turn the ball away.

With just seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers had the ball in the net, as a free-kick from captain George Dobson caused problems in the box, allowing Luke Leahy to head home from close range, but the referee believed he had spotted a foul in the build-up and ruled the goal out before booking Leahy for dissent following the decision.

The game settled a little following the disallowed goal, with both sides enjoying spells of possession, without causing either goalkeeper any issues. Fifteen minutes in, some good work from Liam Kinsella to get the ball to Ferrier in the box did cause a little concern for the Rovers defences, but James Clarke was on hand to turn the ball behind. The resulting corner was played into the box by Leahy and looked to be heading in, but Bonham was well placed to clear the ball off the line to deny the defender.

Walsall continued to look the more likely side to score as the match continued, bringing the Rovers ‘keeper into action again moments later as a cross from Nicky Devlin was met by the head of Cook, but the effort lacked any real power and Bonham gathered.

Twenty-four minutes in, the hosts won a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Lines swung into the box with the ball appearing to be destined for the back of the net via the head of Ollie Clarke, but a superb interception from Cook who somehow managed to turn the ball behind ensured the scores remained tied, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

The visiting side were quick to work the ball up to the other end, winning a corner for their efforts, which Leahy swung into the box, forcing Bonham into action again, as the ‘keeper came to punch the ball clear, but the referee spotted a foul and awarded Rovers a free-kick and chance to fully clear the danger.

As we reached the half hour mark, the Saddlers marched forwards, with Leahy finishing the move with a cross onto the head of Cook who was waiting in the box, but the striker was unable to beat the ‘keeper as he aimed his header straight down the middle and into Bonham’s waiting arms. Moments later, Cook looked to turn provider, as he played in Zeli Ismail who found his way into the box before firing a low effort goal-wards, but Joe Martin was well placed to block.

The Saddlers continued to dominate as the match continued apace, and almost found the breakthrough in the thirty-eighth minute as Leahy aimed a speculative effort towards goal from a free-kick, which beat the wall and forced the ‘keeper to dive to palm the ball behind but the resulting corner came to nothing.

Five minutes from before the break, the visitors won another free-kick in a dangerous position, and Leahy again stepped forward to take it, curling a neat ball in towards the head of Jon Guthrie, who again drew a save from Bonham.

With forty-two minutes played, the hosts almost secured a late first-half goal, winning a corner which was played short before being turned into the box causing a scramble which came so close to being turned home by Ollie Clarke, but the Saddlers defences did just enough to clear the danger.

Forty-three minutes in, Josh Ginnelly picked up the second yellow card of the game, being booked for a foul on Ollie Clarke.

Two additional minutes were played to end the half, during which time the Saddlers won a corner after a good break from Kinsella resulting in the ball being turned out of play, but the flag-kick ultimately came to nothing and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still level.

0 - 0

Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon following the break, with Josh Gordon taking the place of Morgan Ferrier as the team got the second-half underway. There was little early action as the sides settled back into the game.

The first real effort of the second-half came eight minutes in, when the recently introduced Gordon picked up the ball twenty-five yards from out and fired a curling effort goal-wards but Bonham watched it all the way and held well.

With fifty-seven minutes on the clock, the hosts opted to make a double change to their line-up, introducing Alex Jukubiak and Liam Sercombe in place of Kyle Bennett and Tom Nichols.

As we reached the hour mark, a superb twenty-five yard dipping volley from Cook almost opened the scoring, but Bonham was on hand to tip the ball wide of his upright and the resulting corner again came to nothing.

The game then descended into something of a midfield battle, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball without creating much going forwards, until the sixty-eighth minute, when Ollie Clarke found himself in good position, twenty yards from goal and unleashed a fierce effort which stung the palms of Roberts as the Walsall shot-stopper beat the ball away.

With seventy-four minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their second change of the afternoon, with Zeli Ismail the man to make way as Kieron Morris entered the fray.

The hosts enjoyed plenty of the ball as the game continued, and were almost rewarded for their patient build-up play twelve minutes from time, but Roberts was well placed to hold the long range effort from Lines.

Rovers opted to make their third and final change in the seventy-ninth minute, with Stuart Sinclair making way for Sam Matthews.

With time rapidly ticking away, both sides set about looking for a late opener, which could perhaps become a late winner. Seven minutes from time, Leadbitter started a move, racing up-field and beating his marker, before cutting inside and passing to Matthews who had found his way into the box, but the midfielders goal-bound effort was well blocked. Walsall were quick to work the ball to the other end, where Cook beat his man and fired a left-footed effort goal-wards from inside the area, but Bonham got down well to prevent the effort finding its target.

There was little further action of note, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball without creating anything before the board was raised indicating a minimum of four additional minutes would be played. Just moments into extra time, the hosts won a free-kick in a dangerous position, right on the edge of the box after Matthews was felled, but Roberts was again on hand to deny the home side a goal as he tipped Matthews goal-bound set-piece effort onto the post.

In the final seconds of the game, with ninety-four minutes played and the referee all but raising his whistle to his lips, Walsall found the breakthrough as a neat pass from Cook picked out Morris in the box and the midfielder fired home to secure all three points for the travelling side.

What looked like a disappointing afternoon on the road, turned around in the blink of an eye with a last gasp winner as the Saddlers maintained their unbeaten away run. Three huge points for the Saddlers to take back to the Banks’s after a game which could have gone either way, with both goalkeepers putting in fine displays, was decided with seconds to spare.

0 - 1

Morris (90+4')
Attendance: 7,768 (468)
Referee: Lee Swabey
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