Match Report: Southend United 3 Walsall 0
Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's Sky Bet League One clash between Southend United and Walsall.
The Saddlers arrived at Tuesday evening's clash on the back of last weekend's disappointing two-goal defeat to Luton Town, and in search of just their second win in five league games.

Walsall started the game brightly, creating the opening chance in just the fourth minute, as a good run from Kane Wilson and a neat cross from Connor Ronan set up Josh Ginnelly twelve yards from goal, but the midfielder was unable to keep his headed effort on target, guiding the ball narrowly wide of the upright.

The game settled a little after the early chance, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball. It wasn’t long before Southend United had the ball up at the other end, winning the first corner of the evening thanks to some good work from Harry Bunn. The ball in from the flag-kick wasn’t a bad one, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to deal with the danger.

Within two minutes the visiting side had worked the ball back into the Southend box, thanks to a delightful low ball from Morgan Ferrier, but his team-mates were unable to latch onto it to turn it goal-wards. The Saddlers were soon presented with another opportunity though, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, which was taken by Luke Leahy and half cleared, only as far as Walsall captain, George Dobson who played the ball back to Kieron Morris, allowing the midfielder a twenty-five yard effort which the hosts were able to deflect over the bar.

Thirteen minutes into the game, Ferrier fired the ball home, but with Jon Guthrie having committed a foul in the build-up, the goal would not stand.

A coming together in the thirteenth minute would eventually see Harry Lennon make an early departure. Initially, both Dobson and Lennon appeared to be able to continue after a brief spell of treatment, but three minutes after the incident, Lennon again went down and after another short spell of treatment, left the field on a stretcher, with Michael Turner taking his place.

Both sides took a little time to settle back into the game following the early change, but twenty-two minutes in, the hosts worked their way into shooting range, thanks to some good work from Stephen McLaughlin who set up Ben Coker eighteen yards from goal. The shot looked good, but Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts did just enough to palm the ball away.

Roberts was again tasked with saving his side from the resulting corner and the ‘keeper did well to turn the in-swinging effort onto the crossbar, but Bunn was alert to the loose ball and fired home to put his side ahead.

Southend looked to be facing more injury woes in the twenty-fifth minute, with Tom Hopper struggling to continue, but after a short spell of treatment, the striker returned to his feet and the game got back underway.

The Saddlers were a little unlucky not to restore parity in the twenty-seventh minute, winning a free-kick thirty yards out, which Leahy fired goal-wards, but a wicked deflection en-route ensured the ball would sail over the bar without troubling the man between the sticks.

Hopper, who looked likely to have been replaced five minutes before, eventually succumbed to his injury in the thirtieth minute, and after another foray onto the pitch from the medical staff, the striker was replaced by Shawn McCoulsky, leaving the hosts with only one available change for the remaining hour.

Walsall continued to look for a goal to bring them back on level terms, and almost found one in the thirty-fifth minute, winning a corner which McLaughlin was forced to put out of play as Ronan’s ball in looked to be heading towards the near post. Ronan again swung the ball in from the second flag-kick and found the head of Leahy, but a foul in the area ensured any goal would not have stood.

The game then settled into something of a midfield battle, with neither side able to create much going forwards, whilst enjoying plenty of time on the ball. The hosts eventually broke the deadlock, winning a corner in the forty-second minute, but the Walsall defences were able to deal with the danger.

Following several spells of treatment, eight additional minutes were played to end the first-half. The Saddlers used the extra time to search for an equaliser before the break, and two minutes into the eight, they should have secured it, winning a corner which Ronan curled into the box, but, with Leahy waiting patiently for the ball at the front post, and Guthrie at the back, the ball trickled through the six yard box avoiding everyone as it headed out for a goal-kick.

The Saddlers won another corner three minutes later, and with the Shrimpers unable to clear the danger, Ferrier was able to get a shot away, but his curling effort sailed inches over the crossbar. That was to be the last chance of the half, with the referee eventually signalling half-time with United’s one-goal lead still intact.

1 - 0

The teams returned to the pitch after enjoying their half-time refreshments, and the second-half got underway. The second forty-five got off to something of a slow start, but five minutes in, former Saddler turned Southend captain, Sam Mantom, almost doubled his sides advantage with a powerful twenty-five yard effort which Roberts was forced to turn around his post.

The Saddlers soon had the ball up at the other end, with a fifty-third minute combination from Leahy and Ginnelly forcing the first real save of the evening from Shrimpers shot-stopper, Mark Oxley, who did well to tip Ginnelly’s headed effort over the bar. The resulting corner was then deflected over the crossbar, gifting the visitors a second attempt, but with too much on it, the ball sailed across field and out for a throw.

As we reached the hour mark, there was another pause in proceedings, allowing Taylor Moore to receive treatment for a head injury, but the defender was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Walsall continued to press as they looked to sought to level the scores, and with sixty-three minutes on the clock, they could have done just that as Morris raced down the wing and crossed the ball in for Ferrier, but the move ended with the forwards headed effort sailing wide of the upright.

There was another pause in play in the sixty-fifth minute, as Jack Fitzwater went down requiring treatment, but he was soon up and ready to continue.

With twenty minutes still to play, Michael Turner became the first player to see yellow, picking up a booking for an off-the-ball challenge on Ferrier.

Moments after the booking, with the match action slowing, the Saddlers opted to make their first change of the evening, replacing Connor Ronan with Andy Cook as they looked to get themselves back into the game.

Just five minutes after what appeared to be a positive change for the Saddlers, in the seventy-sixth minute, Southend won a corner, following some good work from former Walsall man, Jason Demetriou and McCoulsky. Mantom headed over to take the flag-kick and whipped the ball into the box, leaving Timothee Dieng little to do to nod home from six yards, putting the home side two goals to the good.

Buoyed by their second goal, the home team began to really push forwards, and almost extended their advantage further in the seventy-ninth minute, as the ball fell to McCoulsky in the box, but a fine, diving save from Roberts ensured the Blues would have to settle for a corner. The ball in from the flag-kick was good, and Turner rose well to reach it, but Roberts was again on hand to keep his side in the game, albeit by a thread.

However, the Saddlers shot-stoppers heroics proved to be in vain, as, in the eighty-second minute, Dieng turned provider, setting up Bunn who fired a fired in an effort which took a clear deflection off an unfortunate Fitzwater and nestled in the back of the net, ensuring the hosts would take all three points from the game.

That was to be the last involvement for the goalscorer, as his side opted to make their third and final change of the evening in the eighty-third minute, with Harry Bunn being asked to make way for Michael Kightly.

After a quiet final seven or so minutes, which saw little action other than a well blocked, eighty-eighth minute Mantom effort from range, the match officials indicated that four additional minutes were to be played.

There was little further action, with the three points already secured by the hosts, before the referee eventually put the Saddlers out of their misery and called an end to the contest, Southend running out three-goal-to-nil winners.

Another disappointing evening for a Walsall side who suffered only their second away defeat of the season, and their second on the bounce. Though there were plenty of chances created, Dean Keates men never really looked like scoring. Perhaps, with all the travelling behind them for a time, and a little time to rest before Saturday, the team will instead manage a victory at home, or maybe that is wishful thinking?

3 - 0
Bunn (23')
Dieng (76')
Bunn (82')

Attendance: -
Referee: Alan Young
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