Match Report: Walsall 1 Southend United 1 Match Report: Walsall 1 Southend United 1

Match Report: Walsall 1 Southend United 1

Here is our Match Report from Good Friday's League One clash between Walsall and fellow strugglers Southend United.
Coming less than a week after the Saddlers' disappointing defeat to Accrington Stanley, interim manager Martin O'Connor hoped to see an upturn in performance with three crucial points up for grabs.

Walsall got the match underway, and after a somewhat slow start to the game, won the first corner of the afternoon in the seventh minute. A well placed Sam Mantom was able to block the initial cross in from the flag-kick, but Luke Leahy promptly delivered the ball back into the box only for it to be turned behind at the back post.

The Saddlers continued to look the brighter of the two sides, with Joe Edwards driving the ball back towards goal moments later, but the midfielders eventual low, twenty-five yard effort was claimed by Southend United ‘keeper, Mark Thomas Oxley at the second time of asking.

It wasn’t until the sixteenth minute that the visiting side created a chance on goal, with the eventual effort coming from Sam Hart, who saw a cross-come-shot headed behind. Mantom swung the resulting corner into the box, but saw the ball cut out before it reached the targeted Simon Cox.

The Saddlers soon had the ball back at the other end, with Corey Blackett-Taylor sending a twenty-five yard effort sailing high over Oxley’s crossbar.

The Blues were awarded a free-kick in the twenty-sixth minute, from which, Mantom was unable to beat the wall. The ball fell kindly for the visitors though, with Hart then seeing a shot blocked inside the box by Liam Kinsella before Cox picked up the loose ball in an offside position.

The visiting side continued to press, winning another free-kick in the twenty-eighth minute, which Hart swung towards the back-post, where Harry Bunn was on hand to draw a fine save from Saddlers shot-stopper, Chris Dunn.

The Walsall ‘keeper was called into action again moments later, as Rob Kiernan chested the ball down before unleashing a powerful shot on goal, which Dunn did well to tip over the bar, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

There was a brief delay to follow, as the referee called a stop to the action to allow the players to take on fluids.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, Southend found the breakthrough, with a long ball forward from Oxley being headed back to Dunn by Connor Johnson who was seemingly unaware that Cox was behind him, the striker needing no second invitation to turn the ball home.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but there was little further action and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with Southend’s one goal lead intact.

0 - 1

The sides returned unchanged for the second-half, which Southend duly got underway. The visiting side started the half brightly, with Elvis Bwomono firing wide six minutes in from a tight angel.

Southend felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the fifty-third minute, as Bunn was felled inside the box, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

Moments later, Sam Hart became the first player to see yellow, picking up the first card of the afternoon for a foul on Edwards. The Saddlers won a corner from the resulting free-kick, but it came to nothing.

The hosts continued to enjoy a brighter spell, with a Leahy free-kick being cleared before the Saddlers won the ball back, playing in Andy Cook inside the area, but the strikers effort on goal sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

There was a brief halt to proceedings as we reached the hour mark, as Cox went down requiring treatment, but the goalscorer was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Southend opted to make the first change of the game in the sixty-second minute, with Sam Hart making way for Stephen Hendrie.

The Saddlers went close in the sixty-fourth minute, as a Blackett-Taylor cross sailed across the mouth of Oxley’s goal, needing just the merest of touches to turn it home, but none of his team-mates was able to get the vital touch and the ball eventually trickled harmlessly out of play.

The Blues opted to make a second change to their line-up, just three minutes after the first, with Dru Yearwood the man to make way as Luke Hyam joined the fray.

The Saddlers responded with a change of their own in the sixty-eighth minute, as Corey Blackett-Taylor was replaced by Aramide Oteh.

Oteh looked to make an immediate impact, racing forwards moments after his arrival before cutting inside and firing an effort goal-wards, but the shot lacked power and made for an easy save for Oxley.

Fifteen minutes from time, Connor Johnson found his name being added to the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a foul on Bunn.

With seventy-seven minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make a second change to their line-up as they looked to get back into the game. Cameron Norman taking the place of Zeli Ismail for the run-in.

The visitors should have doubled their advantage in the seventy-eighth minute, as Bwomono picked up the ball inside the box and poked wide when he was one-on-one with the ‘keeper and should have had the beating of him. A huge let off for the Saddlers.

Southend opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon in the seventy-eighth minute, with Charlie Kelman replacing Harry Bunn.

Ten minutes from time, John White entered the referee’s notebook, picking up a yellow card for wasting time.

The final ten minutes of the match were a quiet affair, with neither ‘keeper being troubled by their opposition, although Dunn did make an eighty-ninth minute, simple save to deny Kelman.

Four minutes were added to end the match, and with all four of them played, a foul on Oteh inside the area saw Mark Oxley pick up a yellow card and the Saddlers awarded a last gasp penalty. Oteh stepped forward to take the spot-kick and slipped the ball into the bottom left corner to salvage an all important point for his side. Aramide Oteh then joined those in the referee’s notebook, picking up a booking for excessive celebration of the goal.

That would be the last action of the afternoon, as the full-time whistle sounded with the sides tied at one-goal-apiece. The Saddlers lucky to take a point away from a nervy encounter, which saw them struggle to create any real chances on goal for large phases of the game. Monday a must win game if the side are to have any chance at remaining in League One next season.

1 - 1
Oteh PEN (90+4')
Cox (43')
Attendance: 4,624 (595)
Referee: Ross Joyce
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