Match Report: Walsall 0 Shrewsbury Town 0

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and visitors, Shrewsbury Town.
Dean Keates' Saddlers arrived as the match looking to rebound from Saturday's disappointing defeat to last season's League Two champions, Accrington Stanley.

The loss, which was Walsall's second in three league outings, saw the reds struggle to recover from a slow start as Billy Kee's early spot kick secured all three points for Stanley.

Under the lights, the Saddlers got the game off to a bright start, with an early break down the wing culminating in a cross from Morgan Ferrier in just the third minute which tested the Shrewsbury defences, who were forced to turn the ball behind, though the resulting corner came to nothing.

Three minutes later, it was the turn of the visitors, who their first corner of the game after a free-kick was met smartly by Shaun Whalley on the edge of the box forcing a fine save from Walsall ‘keeper, Liam Roberts who got down well to turn the ball away, but again the flag-kick came to nothing.

The Saddlers were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position in the tenth minute, from which Zeli Ismail brought Shrewsbury ‘keeper, Joel Coleman into play, with a sweetly struck effort which looked to have been creeping under the bar, but the Shrews shot-stopper was alert and well placed to push the ball clear of goal.

The end to end action continued, with Town quick to work the ball back up the other end in a move which culminated in Ollie Norburn firing a long range effort wide of the far post. Moments later, Walsall almost found the opening goal of the evening, as Ismail worked his way past Omar Beckles and fired a rasping effort goal-wards, but Coleman was on hand to punch the ball clear before Josh Ginnelly picked up the rebound and sent the ball sailing over the bar.

Again, the visiting side were quick to work the ball back to Norburn in shooting range, but the midfielders low effort was expertly stopped by Roberts who again got down well to deny the thirty yard effort. Moments later, Town won a corner from which Whalley and Norburn combined well to set up Lee Angol who saw his effort deflect into the side netting.

Walsall looked likely to open the scoring in the twenty-seventh minute as a superb ball from Luke Leahy found Ismail waiting at the back post, but the midfielder slipped as he struck the ball and fired over when he really should have scored. Just two minutes later, another fabulous move from the Saddlers saw captain, George Dobson create space in the box before picking out Ginnelly who looked certain to score, but Anthony Grant was on hand for the visitors to block the ball just shy of the line.

The Saddlers again should have scored from a thirty-first minute flag-kick, after a cross from Isaiah Osbourne was turned behind. Leahy curled the ball in from the corner to an unmarked Ferrier, ten yards from goal, but the forward was unable to keep his headed effort on target, sending the ball narrowly wide of the upright.

Walsall continued to look the brighter side as the game continued, but thirty-five minutes in, a foul on Luke Waterfall resulted in a free-kick for the Shrews, which was taken by Whalley and met by Beckles in the air, with the defender struggling to test Roberts as he looped the ball onto the top netting.

Buoyed, the visitors began to enjoy more of the ball as we raced towards half-time, with Alex Gilliead and Whalley combining well in a move which was brought to a halt by Jack Fitzwater who got back brilliantly to block the latter's shot on goal.

One additional minute was added to end the first half, but neither side were able to create any further chances of note, and the sides headed back to their respective changing rooms with the scores still tied.

0 - 0

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the Saddlers got the second half got underway, winning a corner just seconds in to the half, after Ginnelly swung the ball into the box where Beckles was on hand for the visitors to turn it behind, but the flag-kick came to nothing for the hosts.

The Shrews should have opened the scoring two minutes later, after Holloway broke and picked out Whalley with a precision pass, but the shot on goal was deflected behind and the resulting corner came to nothing.

Walsall were awarded a free-kick thirty yards from goal in the fifty-third minute after Ferrier was felled by Josh Emmanuel. Dobson took the set-piece and played the ball to Andy Cook who was waiting in the box, but the strikers goal-ward shot lacked power allowing Coleman to make a comfortable save.

The Saddlers were presented with another chance to open the scoring just two minutes later, as Leahy found Ferrier who raced down the line before sending a cross-come-shot the way of Coleman who was forced to parry allowing Dobson to pick up the loose ball and fire a shot goal-wards, but the midfielders effort was blocked off the line by an alert Waterfall.

With fifty-six minutes on the clock, Josh Ginnelly became the first player to see yellow, picking up a booking for a foul on Grant.

As we raced past the hour mark, the hosts were again unlucky not to put themselves ahead, as a wonderful in-swinging ball from a Leahy flag-kick sailed across the face of goal, with just a little touch needed to turn it home, but the ball evaded his team-mates and sailed out of play. Walsall continued to dominate, seeing plenty of the ball, and again could have opened the scoring four minutes later, as Dobson played in Ginnelly who saw his shot saved at the near post by an alert Coleman.

In the sixty-fifth minute, Salop opted to make their first change of the evening, replacing Alex Gilliead with Josh Laurent.

Moments after the change, a poor pass from Jon Guthrie was pounced on by Whalley, who played a neat one-two with Aaron Amadi-Holloway, before passing out wide to Norburn who worked his way into the box and fired an effort goal-wards forcing Nicky Devlin to put his body on the line to block the shot.

There were few further chances of note over the following ten or so minutes, though the action continued in an end-to-end fashion.

With seventy-seven minutes on the clock, there was a brief halt to proceedings whilst Whalley received treatment after going down holding his head. He was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Three minutes later, things were not so swiftly resolved for Osbourne who went down after being hit in the face by a ball from Grant at point-blank range. After a lengthy spell of treatment from paramedics and both medical teams, the midfielder was taken from the pitch on a stretcher, with Liam Kinsella taking his place.

Moments after the re-start, Ginnelly almost opened the scoring, but his effort sailed just over the crossbar from close range. Two minutes later, with eighty-eight minutes played, Ginnelly looked to turn provider, setting up Ferrier with a clever flick, but Coleman was on hand for the Shrews and beat the effort away.

It was the turn of Roberts in the Walsall goal moments later, as Angol and Norburn combined well, but the shot-stopper was well placed to block. The Saddlers were quick to regain possession though and again forced Coleman into action as Leahy looked to be in at the back post, latching on to a Ferrier cross with a diving header, which the visiting ‘keeper somehow managed to keep out.

Six additional minutes were added to end the game, with the pace slowing a little as they were played out. In the third of the tacked on minutes, Town opted to make a change to their line-up, introducing Lenell John-Lewis in place of Aaron Amadi-Holloway. That would be the last real action of note though as the final few moments were played out before the referee brought an end to the game with the scores still as they had been at the opening whistle. A disappointing evening for the Saddlers, who should have taken at least one of their chances, though another point on the board at this relatively early stage of the campaign is always welcome.

0 - 0

Attendance: 4,555 (806)
Referee: Graham Salisbury
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