Match Report: Walsall 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2 Match Report: Walsall 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 3 Wycombe Wanderers 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and visitors, Wycombe Wanderers.
This afternoon's match was the first in a run of five home games in a row and will see Dean Keates' side return to action following their weekend and midweek away defeats, two results which saw the side slip further away from the Play-Off places.

The match got off to something of a slow start, with both sides taking a little time to get into the game. Walsall did see plenty of the ball though, creating the first opening in the sixth minute in a move which culminated in Isaiah Osbourne over-hitting a ball which Kieron Morris would have been well placed to turn in.

Wycombe Wanderers were soon on the attack, and almost found a way through thanks to some good work from Fred Onyedinma who looked to set up Craig Mackail-Smith, but new Saddlers signing, Russell Martin was first to the ball and cleared the danger.

The hosts were quick to work the ball back up to the other end, where Walsall captain, George Dobson found himself in shooting range, but his effort was blocked inside the box, before Morris fired a shot wide.

The visiting side created their first real chance of the afternoon in the thirteenth minute, with former Walsall loannee, Jason McCarthy playing a long-ball to Adebayo Akinfenwa who in turn played the ball on to Mackail-Smith who took a touch before firing an effort straight into the waiting arms of Saddlers shot-stopper, Liam Roberts.

The Saddlers were quick to work the ball back up to the other end, where some good work from Morris played Morgan Ferrier in, but after charging at goal the forward fired a powerful shot goal-wards, but Wycombe goalkeeper, Ryan Allsop made light work of saving.

Wycombe won a corner in the sixteenth minute, as a Paris Cowan-Hall effort from twenty-five yards out was turned behind by an alert Roberts, but the flag-kick came to nothing and the Saddlers broke through Andy Cook, who combined with Connor Ronan to set up Ferrier, whose indecision allowed Wycombe to clear.

With twenty-three minutes on the clock, the visiting side should have opened the scoring, as a Cowan-Hall cross was headed across goal by Akinfenwa, but Mackail-Smith was unable to guide a headed, eight yard effort into the back of the net, sending the ball narrowly wide of the upright.

The following ten minutes were a pretty quiet affair, with both sides enjoying spells of possession, whilst being hampered getting forwards by the opposition. When another chance was created, in the sixty-fourth minute, the crossbar came to the Saddlers aid, with the underside denying Cowan-Hall who had done well to beat Luke Leahy in the build-up. Onyedinma turned the rebound back across the face of goal, but none of his Chairboys team-mates were able to get a touch on it to turn it home.

Thirty-six minutes in, the Saddlers won a free-kick in a dangerous position for a foul on Ferrier by Michael Harriman. Ronan whipped the set-piece into the box, where Andy Cook was on hand to flick the ball past Allsop to put his side a goal to the good.

Buoyed by the goal, the Saddlers set about looking for a second, and almost found it just two minutes after the first as Ferrier raced forwards following a Wycombe corner, but after getting into the box, he let the ball run out of play before getting a shot away when he really should have scored. Moments later, Ferrier was again involved as he raced away down the left and looked to play in Morris, but the midfielder was just unable to get anything on the ball to turn it goal-wards.

There was a brief pause in play in the fortieth minute as one of the referee’s assistants pulled up with a groin strain, but after a swift swap for the fourth official, the action got back underway.

Three additional minutes were played to end the half, but neither side was able to make use of them, and the Saddlers headed into the break one-goal-to-the-good.

1 - 0

The teams returned unchanged after the break and the second half got underway. Both sides took a little time to settle back into the game, but the Saddlers were quickest off the mark and doubled their advantage with their first real chance of the half, Wilson firing an effort goal-wards, which Allsop parried back into his path allowing the full-back to set Osbourne who fired home his second league goal of the season.

Walsall continued to press, looking to further add to their tally, but Allsop was alert to efforts from both Morris and Leahy, doing well to keep both out.

The pace slowed and the game settled into something of a midfield battle as time marched on, with neither side able to create much going forwards, whilst enjoying plenty of time with the ball.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, the first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Kane Wilson for persistent fouling. Wycombe also decided it was time to ring the chances, with Craig Mackail-Smith and Paris Cowan-Hall making way for Scott Kashket and Alex Samuel.

The Saddlers could have furthered their lead moments after the change, as Morris picked up the ball thirty yards from goal and fired an effort inches wide of the upright. Moments later, Bryn Morris also fired an effort wide, up at the other end.

Bryn Morris saw another chance go begging five minutes later, as Harriman set up the midfielder who fired over from twenty yards.

The hosts should have made it three in the seventy-seventh minute, with Cook looking to round the keeper, but Allsop recovered just in time to push the ball away before Ferrier picked up the loose ball and fired high into the stands.

The chairboys opted to make their final change of the afternoon in the seventy-seventh minute, with Curtis Thompson making way for Dominic Gape.

With ten minutes still to play, an unfortunate error from Leahy brought Wycombe back to within a goal of his side, as he stuck out his leg and lifted the ball over Roberts and into his own net.

Fortunately for the Saddlers, the visiting side returned the unfortunate favour four minutes later, with the recently introduced Gape diverting a Dobson cross into his own net to restore Walsall’s two-goal cushion.

The Saddlers opted make their first change of the afternoon in the eighty-fifth minute, with Morgan Ferrier being replaced by Josh Ginnelly.

The hosts continued to press as time ebbed away, with Dobson testing Allsop in the eighty-seventh minute with a twenty-five yard driven effort, but they Wycombe keeper was equal to it and saved well.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, and moments into them, Wycombe were awarded a penalty as Onyedinma was brought down in the box. Kashket stepped up to take the spot-kick which Roberts was able to turn away from goal, allowing Samuel to meet the rebound and fire home.

There was little further action of note, and the Saddlers eventually took all three points, winning by three-goals-to-two. A superb home win for Dean Keates’ side on the back of two poor away performances. With four home games to follow, perhaps this will be the start of a climb back up the table…

3 - 2
Cook (36')
Osbourne (52')
Gape OG (84') 
Leahy OG (80')
Samuel (90+3')

Attendance: 4,265 (589)
Referee: Neil Hair
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