Match Report: Blackpool 2 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Dean Keates' Saddlers and Terry McPhillips' Blackpool.
The Saddlers have struggled to put together anything resembling a consistent run of form over recent weeks and arrived at this weekend's clash with the Seasiders on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Rochdale, a result they were no-doubt keen to put right at Bloomfield Road.

Jordan Thompson got the match underway, and his side starting brightly, securing the first chance of the afternoon in just the second minute as a Marc Bola cross fell to Armand Gnanduillet, who was unable to keep his headed effort on target, sending the ball wide of Liam Robert’s upright.

The game settled a little as it continued, with Blackpool continuing to enjoy the better start, winning a corner in the seventh minute as Cameron Norman was forced to turn the ball behind following a free-kick, but Liam Roberts was well placed and beat Chris Long’s cross in away.

Walsall finally began to find a way into the game, creating their first chance in the twelfth minute, as some good work from Matt Jarvis saw the midfielder beat his man and cross the ball in to Andy Cook at the back post, but the strikers glancing header sailed wide of Mark Howard’s upright without troubling the ‘keeper.

With fifteen minutes on the clock, Blackpool made their early dominance pay, with Long picking up a Donervon Daniels through-ball before firing across Roberts into the bottom left corner to put his side a goal to the good.

The hosts continued to see much of the ball as the action continued, with Long looking to put a second past Roberts just three minutes after the first, but a reaction save from the Saddlers shot-stopper ensured his side would remain just the one goal behind.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with Blackpool continuing to look the brighter side, whilst Walsall did enjoy some time on the ball though neither side was able to create anything of note, until the hosts broke in the twenty-sixth minute, in a move which culminated in Thompson curling a twenty-five yard effort over the bar.

The Saddlers created their best chance of the afternoon in the thirty-third minute, as Nicky Devlin played the ball to Aramide Oteh in the box, but the striker, with an unmarked Jarvis waiting for the ball, decided to shoot rather than pass, and his weak shot was comfortably saved by Howard.

There was a brief pause in play in the forty-third minute whilst Walsall captain, George Dobson received treatment for a knock, but the skipper was soon up and able to see out the two minutes added to end the half.

There was no further action of note, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with Blackpool leading by one goal to nil at the break.

1 - 0

Walsall were forced to make their first change of the afternoon as the teams returned following the interval. George Dobson unable to continue with Isaiah Osbourne taking his place as the Saddlers got the action back underway.

The Saddlers began the second-half brightly, putting their hosts under pressure as they looked to restore parity, though there were no clear chances on goal until the fifty-fourth minute, when a game of pinball appeared to erupt in the Blackpool box, with Edwards, Cook and Jarvis all seeing shots blocked before the hosts eventually managed to clear the danger.

The visitors continued to press though, with Osbourne playing a delightful cross into the box, in the fifty-fifth minute, for Jon Guthrie who was inches away from heading home.

As we headed past the hour mark, the Saddlers again went close, as a near post header from Scott Laird sailed wide of Howard’s upright.

With sixty-one minutes on the clock, the hosts opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Chris Long making way for d├ębutante Matthew Virtue-Thick.

Sixty-five minutes into the clash, Walsall were awarded a penalty as Oteh was felled in the box by Curtis Tilt. Jarvis stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Howard guessed right to deny him.

The Saddlers felt they should have been awarded a second penalty in the sixty-ninth minute as Tilt appeared to handle the ball in the box, but the referee was unmoved and waved play on, with the ball then falling to Oteh who drew a superb save from Howard.

With seventy-three minutes on the clock, Andy Cook became the first player to enter the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for an argument which followed a foul on Gnanduillet.

Both sides then opted to make changes to their line-ups, with Blackpool replacing Nathan Delfouneso with Anthony Evans, whilst the Saddlers Matt Jarvis made way for Corey Blackett-Taylor.

The changes continued in the seventy-ninth minute, after a period of largely midfield action, with the Saddlers making their third and final substitution. Nicky Devlin the player to make way as Zeli Ismail entered the fray.

As we headed into the final ten minutes of the game, a clever break from Blackpool was cut short due to an offside infringement by Thompson. Moments later, back at the other end, a weaving run from Cook culminated in a shot being saved by Howard.

The hosts began to show signs of improvement as time ebbed away, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, twenty five yards from goal, in the eighty-seventh minute, which Evans whipped towards the top corner, where Roberts was on hand to save.

With eighty-eight minutes on the clock, Blackpool all but put the game to bed, with Harry Pritchard winning the ball from Dan Scarr inside the Walsall box and slotting home from close range.

Blackpool opted to make their third and final change of the game in the eighty-ninth minute, with Armand Gnanduillet being replaced by Joe Dodoo.

Four additional minutes were added to end the match, with the only real action of note being a yellow card shown to Marc Bola for a foul on Ismail, before the final whistle was blown with the score remaining Blackpool two, Walsall nil.

Another disappointing afternoon for the Saddlers, who endured a poor first-half before displaying much more promise in the second. Defensive errors and a lack of cutting edge up front again their downfall.

2 - 0
Long (14')
Pritchard (88')

Attendance: 3,252 (622)
Referee: Thomas Bramall
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