Match Report: Walsall 1 Bristol Rovers 3

Here is our Match Report from Boxing Day's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and Bristol Rovers.
The Saddlers arrived at their Boxing Day clash on the back of last weekend's draw with title-chasing Peterborough United and in search of three points as Dean Keates' side looked to get back to form and move away from the bottom half of the table.

Walsall captain, George Dobson got the game underway, and his side started brightly, creating the first chance of the afternoon in just the second minute, as some good work from Josh Gordon called Bristol Rovers shot-stopper, Jack Bonham into action, but the ‘keeper was alert to save the powerful shot.

With just seven minutes on the clock, Bristol opened the scoring, as a delightful low ball across the box from Alex Rodman was picked up by Rovers captain, Tom Lockyer who had the simple task of slotting the ball home with Walsall ‘keeper, Liam Roberts out of position.

Four minutes after taking the lead, Rovers doubled their advantage, as a ball in from the left was picked up by Alex Rodman who made space for himself at the far post and fired home.

The Saddlers responded well to falling further behind, working the ball quickly up to the other end, where Nicky Devlin played a neat cross in towards the back post where Jon Guthrie was waiting, but the defenders headed effort clipped the inside of the post before the Rovers defences cleared the danger.

As we reached the quarter hour mark, Walsall again found themselves in position to fire goal-wards, thanks to some superb work from Kieron Morris who beat three players before firing an effort in, but Bonham was on hand for the visitors to tip the ball behind. The Rovers ‘keeper was again called into action to clear the ball from the resulting corner, as Devlin’s effort looked to be creeping goal-wards.

Walsall continued to press, with Morris again putting on a display as he raced forwards, but Holmes-Dennis forced the midfielder into a mistake which allowed the ball to bobble harmlessly out of play. Moments later, with the ball back in the visitors box, Tony Craig was forced to make a last gasp clearance as Zeli Ismail looked to be in on goal.

The game settled a little as we headed past the twenty minute mark, with much of the action centred in midfield. With twenty-seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers worked their way forwards through Liam Kinsella, who did well to get the ball to Ismail on the edge of the box, but the midfielders effort sailed well wide of the upright.

As we headed past the half hour mark, the visiting side could have further extended their advantage as a curling cross from Michael Kelly flashed across the face of goal, with none of his team-mates able to get a decisive touch on it to turn it home.

The Saddlers went close to clawing a goal back in the thirty-fourth minute, as Andy Cook expertly knocked the ball down for Morris, but the midfielders shot was blocked at the last by the Rovers defences.

With forty minutes on the clock, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis became the first player to enter the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul.

The Saddlers almost brought themselves back to within a goal of their opponents moments later, as Cook played the ball down to Morris just outside the box, but Morris’ low driven effort sailed inches wide of the upright.

In the forty-third minute, Gavin Reilly joined Holmes-Dennis in the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a late challenge on Jack Fitzwater.

In the final minute of the first-half, the Saddlers won a free-kick, which Luke Leahy floated into the area, where Cook met it and headed the ball on for Josh Gordon, who had his back to goal and hooked the ball over his shoulder with a flash of brilliance to pull a goal back.

Two additional minutes were played to end the first-half, but neither side was able to make use of them and the sides headed into the break separated by one goal.

1 - 2

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Rovers got the second-half underway. The visitors began the half brightly, with Reilly beating Guthrie just two minutes in, to put a cross into the danger area, but his team-mates were not able to get forwards in time to turn the ball home.

The visitors continued to press, winning a corner five minutes into the half, which Holmes-Dennis played on to Ed Upson, who had space to fire a powerful effort in from outside the area, but Roberts was alert and did well to beat the strike away.

Two minutes later, Rovers restored their two goal advantage, as Alex Jakubiak slipped a clever pass through to Holmes-Dennis, who coolly slotted home.

As we reached the hour mark, the Saddlers opted to make a double change as they looked to get back into the game, replacing Josh Gordon and Zeli Ismail with Morgan Ferrier and the recently returned Joe Edwards.

Rovers continued to press, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position in the sixty-fourth minute as Rodman drew a foul from Dobson. Upson curled the set-piece into the box, where Lockyer met it, but the defenders headed effort sailed harmlessly over the bar, without troubling the man between the sticks.

Walsall, who had struggled to get going after the break, won a corner in the sixty-ninth minute, which was guided towards the near post, but Rodman was on hand for the visitors to clear the danger.

In the seventy-second minute, Luke Leahy became the third player to see yellow, picking up a caution for a foul on Rodman.

The visitors also took that moment to make their first change of the afternoon, introducing Liam Sercombe into the fray in place of Gavin Reilly.

The freshly introduced Sercombe almost bagged himself a goal just three minutes after his introduction into the game, picking up the ball from a stray throw-in, but Fitzwater did well to get back in time to turn the ball away.

The Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the game in the seventy-eighth minute, replacing Kieron Morris with Connor Ronan for the final twelve or so minutes. Rovers also chose to make another change to their line-up moments later, with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis making way for Tom Nichols.

Walsall began to look brighter as we headed into the final ten minutes, winning a corner in the eighty-third minutes as a left-footed effort from the recently introduced Ronan was hoofed out of play by Ollie Clarke, but the Rovers defences were able to deal with the set-piece with ease.

The visiting side opted to make their third and final substitution in the eighty-seventh minute, with Stefan Payne being brought on in place of Alex Jakubiak for the final few minutes.

Four additional minutes were added to end the match, but neither side were able to create any further chances of note and the game ended with Bristol Rovers running out three-goal-to-one victors. Another disappointing display from the Saddlers who lacked that much needed killer instinct and never really looked to have fully got going after the break.

1 - 3
Gordon (45')

Lockyer (7')
Rodman (10')
Holmes-Dennis (52')
Attendance: TBC
Referee: Robert Lewis
Join us across social media, we're @BescotBanter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also find the very latest Saddlers news and updates on Google News.
Previous Post Next Post