Match Report: Accrington Stanley 2 Walsall 1 Match Report: Accrington Stanley 2 Walsall 1

Match Report: Accrington Stanley 2 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League One clash between Accrington Stanley and Walsall.
Interim Manager Martin O'Connor was in the dugout for his first game since taking over from Dean Keates, who was shown the door following last weekend's defeat to ten-man Oxford United.

Accrington Stanley got the match underway, but it was Walsall who started the brighter, breaking forwards inside the opening three minutes, though the hosts defences stood firm. The home team soon had the ball up at the other end though, where some good combination play from Callum Johnson and Sam Finley won the side the first corner of the afternoon, which Andy Cook headed clear at the near post.

The hosts won a second corner kick in the tenth minute as a fierce shot from Daniel Barlaser was deflected behind by Dan Scarr. The flag-kick was played short and eventually worked to Sean McConville who crossed the ball into the area, where the Saddlers defences were on hand to clear the danger.

Stanley continued to press and were rewarded for their efforts, in the eleventh minute, with a free-kick, which McConville floated into the area, where Ross Sykes met the ball and headed past Saddlers shot-stopper, Liam Roberts to put his side a goal to the good.

Spurred on by falling behind, Walsall began to get back into the game, winning a free-kick in the fourteenth minute, which George Dobson played into the box, where McConville was on hand to head clear. Unperturbed, the visitors came again with a neat ball into the box for Cook, but Finley did just enough to knock the ball out of harms way.

It wasn’t long before the hosts had the ball back up at the other end, in a move which culminated in Finley firing an effort sailing high over the crossbar from eighteen yards. The hosts continued to press, drawing Roberts into action in the twenty-second minute, as Billy Kee fed McConville, who raced into the box and fired a low, right-footed effort goal-wards, with the man between the sticks doing well to hold.

The hosts won another corner kick in the twenty-fourth minute as a shot from Kee was blocked behind. McConville played the flag-kick across the penalty area where Mark Hughes looked poised to strike, but the defender was unable to get to the ball and the chance went begging.

The Saddlers won a corner themselves a minute later, as Stanley shot-stopper Dimitar Evtimov was forced to put the ball out of play, but a foul in the box as the ball came in saw the hosts come away with a free-kick.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the thirty-first minute, allowing Jon Guthrie to receive treatment, but defender was soon up and able to continue.

With thirty-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers levelled the scores. A pass from Luke Leahy setting Nicky Devlin away, with the midfielder doing well to break into the box and fire a tame left-footed effort goal-wards. The ball appearing to take a deflection as it headed past Evtimov.

Accrington looked to put themselves back ahead two minutes after the equaliser, winning a corner for their efforts, but the flag-kick came to nothing. Walsall soon had the ball back at the other end, where they won a corner themselves, with the ball in falling to Isaiah Osbourne who saw his shot on goal blocked behind by Barlaser. The resulting corner fell to Scarr at the back post, but Evtimov was well placed to hold.

The hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the thirty-ninth minute, as Liam Kinsella appeared to foul Johnson in the box, but the referee was unmoved by the appeals and waved play on.

The hosts thought they had restored their earlier lead in the forty-second minute, winning a free-kick just outside the area after Johnson was brought down, which was played into the box for Kee to head home, but the referee spotted something in the build-up and disallowed the goal. A huge let off for the Saddlers.

The Saddlers won a corner in the forty-fourth minute, which McConville headed clear at the near post as the board was raised indicating three additional minutes would be played to end the half. Walsall continued to press as they looked to head into the break with an advantage, but Cook was unable to turn the ball home despite a number of attempts at it and the hosts eventually came away with a free-kick.

Liam Kinsella became the first player to enter the referee’s notebook in the forty-sixth minute for wasting time after the award of the free-kick, but the set-piece was eventually taken and came to nothing. That would be the last real action of the half and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores tied at one-apiece.

1 - 1

The sides returned unchanged after the break, and Walsall got the second-half underway. The hosts started the half brightly, forcing Dobson into action to intercept a good ball into the box from Johnson just three minutes in. The home side continued to see plenty of the ball as the match continued, though they were unable to make their dominance pay.

The Saddlers finally worked the ball up to the other end in the fifty-third minute, with Sykes being forced to head clear a cross from Devlin which looked dangerous. It wasn’t long before Stanley had the ball back in the danger zone up at the other end though, with McConville whipping the ball in from the left for Kee, but Roberts was alert to the danger and got out well to gather.

A foul on Sykes in the fifty-seventh minute saw the hosts awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. The ball into the box from the set-piece had just too much height on it for Kee, Hughes and Sykes who all looked to get a head to it and failed, much to the relief of the visitors.

With sixty-three minutes on the clock, Sam Finley became the second player to see his name entered into the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul which saw the Saddlers awarded a free-kick in a promising position. The visitors floated the ball into the area from the set-piece but the Stanley defences were on hand to clear the danger.

The hosts soon had the ball back up at the other end, with McConville receiving a cross out on the left before curling an eighteen yard effort inches wide of the far post.

With sixty-nine minutes played, the hosts restored their early advantage, with Sykes picking up the ball after a scramble in the box before firing past Roberts.

The Saddlers responded to the goal by making their first change of the afternoon, as Jack Fitzwater made way for Aramide Oteh. Accrington replied with a change of their own, Janoi Donacien the man to make way as Ben Richards-Everton entered the fray.

Stanley should have put further distance between themselves and their rivals in the seventy-third minute, as Jordan Clark ghosted his way into the box before heading a McConville cross narrowly wide of Roberts upright.

With seventy-seven minutes played, the Saddlers opted to make their second change of the afternoon, as Isaiah Osbourne made way for Joe Edwards.

The game continued as something of a midfield battle, until a spate of bookings broke up the action, starting in the eightieth minute with Dan Scarr seeing yellow for a foul on Hughes, which was followed just a minute later by a yellow card for Josh Gordon who joined those in the referee’s notebook for a foul on McConville.

Just two minutes later, Josh Gordon saw red, picking up a second yellow card in as many minutes for a foul on Richards-Everton. A move which also saw Andy Cook pick up a booking for protesting the dismissal.

With eighty-eight minutes on the clock, Luke Leahy also found his way into the referee’s notebook, picking up a booking for a foul.

The hosts created a chance to extend their lead late on, but McConville’s powerful effort was pushed clear by Roberts, before Richards-Everton headed the rebound behind, with help from a defensive deflection. The resulting corner was played in towards the back post where it was met by Kee, but the shot on goal sailed well wide of the target.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, but a late Walsall corner was dealt with by the hosts and the referee brought an end to the clash with Accrington’s two-goals-to-one lead intact. Another poor afternoon for the Saddlers, who not only failed to pick up a single point from their trip, but also came away with a fine to pay thanks in part to their lack of discipline, along with a few questionable refereeing decisions.

2 - 1
Sykes (11')
Sykes (69')
Devlin (33')

Attendance: 2,662 (661)
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
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