Match Report: Walsall 1 Rochdale 2 Match Report: Walsall 1 Rochdale 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 1 Rochdale 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Walsall and Rochdale.
The Struggling Saddlers returned to action following a weekend without football and in search of three much-needed points with the prospect of yet another relegation battle beginning to rear its ugly head.

Walsall captain, Joe Edwards got the match underway, but it was Rochdale who enjoyed the first chance of the game, with captain, Ian Henderson doing well to work himself into space in the second minute, before firing an effort over the bar from twenty-five yards.

The visitors continued to press, winning a corner in the fourth minute, which the Rory Holden swung into the area. The Saddlers failed to clear the danger as the ball bobbled around inside the box, eventually falling to Ethan Ebanks-Landell who fired a shot into the top corner to put his side ahead.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle following the goal, with both sides enjoying spells of possession without troubling their oppositions defences.

With thirteen minutes on the clock, a foul by Luke Leahy gifted the visitors a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Stephen Dooley used to cross the ball into the area, where it was met by Calvin Andrew, whose looping header sailed wide of Liam Roberts upright without troubling the ‘keeper.

It wasn’t until the seventeenth minute that the Saddlers created a real effort on goal. Andy Cook working his way through the Rochdale defences to set up Nicky Devlin, whose effort on goal would have been ruled out for offside had it not cannoned off the post.

Two minutes later, the hosts were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position, as Isaiah Osbourne was fouled by Ethan Hamilton. The ball was floated into the area, where Jimmy McNulty rose well to half-clear before an offside infringement brought the move to an end as the Saddlers looked to play the ball back into the box.

Walsall continued to enjoy a brighter spell, winning their first corner of the game in twenty-fourth minute. The ball was swung into the area from the flag-kick, but met with a defensive header and swiftly turned out again. The hosts looked to play the ball back in, winning a second corner, but a push on Rochdale ‘keeper, Josh Lillis as the ball was played in, saw the visitors awarded a free-kick and the Saddlers momentum quashed.

After a quieter spell, the visiting side won a corner in the thirty-first minute, which was played towards the back post by Holden, where Andrew was waiting, but the strikers headed effort sailed wide of Roberts’ upright.

A moment of brilliance from Edwards saw the Saddlers draw level in the thirty-sixth minute. The midfielder picking up the ball inside the Dale half and driving forwards towards the edge of the box before unleashing an eighteen yard strike which sailed into the bottom corner.

Rochdale saw a chance to re-take the lead missed in the forty-first minute as a free-kick was played into the area by Holden, where a well placed Walsall body was on hand to block Andrew’s effort.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, Nicky Devlin became the first player to enter the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for a challenge on Callum Camps.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to create any further chances of note, and the sides headed back down the tunnel with the scores tied.

1 - 1

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and Camps got the second-half underway. Walsall began the half brightly, winning a free-kick just a minute after the re-start, which was played into the area, but headed away by a Rochdale head.

Moments later, a lovely ball in from Leahy almost played Morgan Ferrier in, with the latter winning a corner for his side as a he forced Ebanks-Landell to put the ball behind, but the flag-kick was cleared by the Rochdale defences.

The Saddlers continued to press as they looked to find an advantage early in the second-half. With fifty-three minutes on the clock, they were a little unlucky not to make their hard work pay off, as Ferrier picked up a loose ball and drove towards goal, only to find Lillis in good position to deal with his low, eighteen yard effort aimed at the bottom corner.

With fifty-seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers had the ball in the back of the net but the goal was ruled out as Cook was offside.

A minute after the chalked off goal, Rochdale opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Rory Holden made way for Rekeil Pyke.

As we reached the hour mark, Rochdale retook the lead, with a right footed shot from Hamilton finding the back of the net after the midfielder had found his way past Cameron Norman, a little too easily for the Saddlers liking.

The visitors continued to press, winning a free-kick inside the Walsall half, which Dan Scarr was forced to put out of play for a corner. The ball in was good, but Roberts was well placed to save.

With sixty-seven minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, introducing Corey Blackett-Taylor into the fray, in place of Nicky Devlin.

The visitors won a corner soon after the change, with Dooley swinging the ball into the area. The Saddlers defended the ball away, but Andrew was able to pick up the loose ball and play it back in, but Henderson was caught offside before they could get a shot away.

Seventy-three minutes in, the Saddlers opted to make a second change to their line-up, introducing deadline day signing, Aramide Oteh in place of Morgan Ferrier.

Four minutes later, the hosts chose to make their third and final change of the day, as George Dobson took the place of Isaiah Osbourne.

With seventy-eight minutes on the clock, Ethan Hamilton became the second player to enter the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Scarr. The resulting free-kick saw Edwards fire over from thirty yards.

The Saddlers felt they should have been awarded a penalty ten minutes from time, as Oteh found his way round Lillis before being bundled to the floor, but the referee was unmoved by their protests and waved play on, as the ball was cleared inches from the line.

Eighty-three minutes in, Andy Cook was added to the referee’s notebook, the striker seeing yellow for a foul on Ebanks-Landell.

Rochdale looked to run down the clock as we entered the final few minutes, making their second change of the afternoon just three minutes from time, as Ryan McLaughlin made way for Joe Bunney.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time the Saddlers won a free-kick in a dangerous position, which they sent into the area where Matt Jarvis saw his shot blocked by Bunney in a move which ultimately led to his side winning a corner. There was a brief halt to proceedings before the corner was taken, as Rochdale ‘keeper, Lillis went down, but after a short spell of treatment, he was able to continue and the flag-kick was swung in, with Andrew well placed to head clear.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Andrew again called into action to defend away an effort from Blackett-Taylor. The visiting side opted to make their third and final change before the resulting corner was taken, Introducing M.J Williams in place of Stephen Dooley for the final seconds of the game. The flag-kick was eventually taken and was headed behind by a Walsall head, which effectively brought an end to the game, with Rochdale running out two-goals-to-one victors.

A disappointing afternoon for the Saddlers, who took too long to get into the game and failed to capitalise on their changes, whilst struggling to defend set-pieces, once again.

1 - 2
Edwards (36')

Ebanks-Landell (4')
Hamilton (60')
Attendance: 4,021 (288)
Referee: Scott Oldham
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