Match Report: Walsall 2 Coventry City 1 Match Report: Walsall 2 Coventry City 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 2 Coventry City 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and Coventry City.
It was a battle of the strugglers at Banks's Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the Saddlers and Sky Blues looked to get back to winning ways after a winless run of games.

Josh Gordon got the match underway, but it was Coventry City who created the first opening of the game, winning a corner in the second minute, which Liam Kelly played in to Tom Davies at the back post, but the defenders headed effort trickled wide of Liam Roberts upright without troubling the Walsall ‘keeper.

Coventry continued to look the livelier side during the opening minutes, with Kelly bringing Roberts into action in the fifth minute, forcing a save from twenty yards after some good build-up play from Luke Thomas.

The game grew into something of a midfield battle as the teams settled into it, with neither side able to create much going forwards, whilst seeing plenty of the ball.

Walsall created their first real chance of the afternoon in the fourteenth minute, as Luke Leahy picked out Andy Cook in the box, but the striker saw his effort on goal blocked.

There was then a short halt to proceedings, allowing Thomas to receive treatment, but the forward was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

With just eighteen minutes on the clock, Thomas powered Coventry into the lead, picking up the ball from a clearance after Junior Brown attempted to get the ball into the box, taking a touch and firing home from twelve yards.

Thomas almost doubled his tally five minutes later, beating Leahy and Isaiah Osbourne into the box before firing a left-footed effort goal-wards, but Roberts was well placed and gathered well.

The game again settled into something of a midfield battle as time raced by, with both sides struggling to get forward as the other cancelled them out, until Thomas broke in the twenty-eighth minute, firing a left-footed shot in from outside the area, which the Saddlers defences did well to block.

Two minutes later, with the ball at the other end, Cook saw a headed effort from the centre of the box fly past the upright without troubling Lee Burge in the Coventry goal.

There was very little action of note in the following ten minutes as the sides cancelled each other out, ensuring no further shots were possible.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, Tom Bayliss became the first name entered into the referee’s notebook, as the midfielder was cautioned for a foul on Russell Martin.

As we reached the final of the opening forty-five minutes, the Saddlers felt they should have been awarded a penalty, as Cook, who was played in by Liam Kinsella, was pushed to the floor inside the box, but the officials were unmoved by the appeals and the referee waved play on.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to make use of the time and after a string of yellow cards were shown, first to Isaiah Osbourne for a foul on Kelly, before Luke Thomas and Nicky Devlin joined him in the referee’s notebook for an argument, the sides headed into the break with Coventry’s one-goal lead intact.

0 - 1

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Coventry got the second-half underway. Walsall looked much brighter in the early goings than they had in the first-half, though they were unable to create any chances on goal, until, in the fifty-first minute, Devlin found himself in shooting range and fired a right-footed effort in from outside the box, sending the ball narrowly wide of the upright.

The Saddlers continued to press, and should have drawn level in the fifty-third minute, as Cook set up Osbourne who found himself in possession just six yards from goal and blazed his effort over the bar. Three minutes later, Martin saw a right-footed effort from outside the box bobble wide.

The chances continued to come thick and fast as Walsall sought to restore parity. Cook seeing a fifty-eighth minute headed effort saved by Burge, before the City ‘keeper was again called into action just two minutes later to deny Martin from twenty-five yards.

With sixty-two minutes on the clock, Lee Burge joined the ranks in the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a foul.

Sixty-three minutes into the game, the Coventry bench opted to make their first change of the afternoon, introducing Jonson Clarke-Harris in place of Conor Chaplin.

Six uneventful minutes later, the Saddlers opted to make a double change, introducing Josh Ginnelly and Zeli Ismail in place of Josh Gordon and Jack Fitzwater.

Just three minutes after his introduction into the game, Ginnelly played Cook in from a corner kick, but Jordan Shipley was well placed for the visiting side to clear the ball away from the line.

Former Saddler, Amadou Bakayoko went close in the seventy-third minute after Shipley played him in inside the box, but the striker dragged his effort wide of the upright. Moments later, the roles were reversed as Bakayoko played in Shipley, whose low effort on goal was saved by the legs of Roberts.

Ten minutes from time, Coventry would have put the game to bed, but for a superb save from Roberts who did well to get his legs in the way of a Thomas shot following a cross from Clarke-Harris.

In the eighty-first minute, Coventry opted to make their second change of the afternoon, introducing Abu Ogogo in place of Tom Bayliss who was forced to depart the game early due to injury.

The game should have been put to bed in the eighty-sixth minute, as a long clearance from a Walsall corner fell to Clarke-Harris who found himself clean through on goal, but the forward was unable to keep his effort on target, firing narrowly wide.

As the board went up to indicate a minimum of four additional minutes would be played, the Saddlers almost drew level with Burge pulling off a superb save to deny Devlin at the back post, tipping the ball over.

A minute into added time, Coventry born Leahy pulled the Saddlers level with a header from the centre of the box which sailed passed Burge into the bottom left corner.

Three minutes after parity was restored, Dujon Sterling fouled Devlin inside the area and the Saddlers were awarded a penalty, which Leahy duly stepped up and converted with a left-footed effort which sailed into the bottom corner to put Walsall ahead for the first time in the game. Substitute Abu Ogogo eventually picked up a yellow card for protesting the penalty award.

Coventry soon had the ball up at the other end as they set about looking to secure a late equaliser, but Roberts was alert to the danger and turned Kelly’s left-footed, six yard effort behind. The resulting corner was met by Clarke-Harris, but his headed effort trickled wide allowing the referee to call full-time on a late Walsall win.

A magnificent comeback from the Saddlers, who were much better during the second-half than the first. Dean Keates tinkering with the formation throughout the game ultimately paying off as his side ran out two-goal-to-one victors, thanks to their continued concentration and a little bit of luck.

2 - 1
Leahy (90+1')
Leahy P (90+4')
Thomas (18')

Attendance: 5,926
Referee: David Coote
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