Match Report: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Walsall 0 Match Report: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Walsall 0
Match Report: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Walsall 0

Match Report: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from Easter Monday's Sky Bet League One clash between Wycombe Wanderers and Walsall.
Following Good Friday's late, late point against Southend, Martin O'Connor's Saddlers arrived at this afternoon's match with a slim hope of keeping their survival hopes alive, the only thing standing in between them and three crucial points was Gareth Ainsworth's Wycombe.

The match got off to a cagey start, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball, without creating much to test their opposition. Walsall looked nervous on the ball in the early going, squandering possession rather too easily on a number of occasions, though they remained resolute at the back, not allowing Wycombe Wanderers to break into the box.

With twelve minutes on the clock, the Saddlers finally created the first chance of the game. A long throw from Cameron Norman finding Joe Edwards on the edge of the box, but the latter’s effort on goal sailed wide of the far post without troubling the man between the sticks.

The hosts were quick to work the ball up to the other end, where they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous spot after Connor Johnson fouled Scott Kashke. The Walsall man picking up the first yellow card of the afternoon for the move. Jason McCarthy floated the set-piece in for Adebayo Akinfenwa, who saw a left-footed shot from close range sail high over the crossbar.

Twenty minutes in, the Saddlers won a corner, as Michael Harriman was forced to turn the ball behind. Wycombe dealt with the danger, putting the ball out of play for a Walsall throw-in, which Luke Leahy used to play Isaiah Osbourne into shooting range, but Wanderers ‘keeper, Ryan Allsop was well placed to gather the effort.

Wycombe went close to finding an opener in the twenty-fifth minute, with Harriman floating a delightful ball into the box, from a free-kick, for Akinfenwa, who was a little unlucky to glance his header wide of Chris Dunn’s upright.

The home side continued to enjoy a brighter spell in-front of the Walsall goal, with McCarthy playing the ball into the box for Akinfenwa in the twenty-eighth minute, with the striker doing well to beat Johnson before firing an effort straight into the waiting arms of Saddlers shot-stopper, Dunn.

The hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the thirty-first minute, after Scott Laird was seen holding onto Akinfenwa inside the box, but the striker’s headed effort sailed wide of the upright and the referee was unmoved by calls for a spot-kick.

The Saddlers won a corner in the thirty-seventh minute, which was played in for Josh Gordon, whose headed effort from close range, sailed narrowly wide of the post.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, but with neither side troubling their opposition ‘keeper’s further, the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores tied as they had been at the start of the action.

0 - 0

The sides returned unchanged after the break, and the game got back underway with all to play for. The Saddlers started the half brightly, with Edwards setting up Leahy at the back post, just three minutes in, though unfortunately for the visitors, the headed effort sailed wide of the far post.

Wycombe soon had the ball up at the other end, where they won a free-kick, which was played in to Akinfenwa, but Norman was alert as the striker played the ball across the box, clearing the danger before anyone in a blue shirt could get to it.

The hosts won another free-kick almost immediately after the first was cleared as Akinfenwa was tripped by Johnson. Former Saddler, McCarthy stepped forward to take the set-piece and fired his side into the lead with a stunning strike.

Wanderers opted to make a double change to their line-up as we reached the hour mark, with Dominic Gape and Nick Freeman made way for Matt Bloomfield and Nathan Tyson.

The Saddlers also took the opportunity to make their first change of the afternoon, with Aramide Oteh being replaced by Andy Cook as the side set about getting back into the game.

After a quiet spell, which saw both sides enjoy spells on the ball without creating anything, Walsall opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Zeli Ismail taking the place of Cameron Norman for the final twenty minutes.

The change coming just moments after, Matt Bloomfield became the second player to see his name entered into the referee’s notebook as he picked up a yellow card for a handball offence.

With seventy-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers rolled the dice, making their third and final change of the afternoon, with Luke Leahy the man to make way as Corey Blackett-Taylor entered the fray.

There was a brief pause in proceedings moments after the change, whilst Dan Scarr received treatment for an injury, but much to the Saddlers relief, he was soon able to continue.

Allsop was called into action in the seventy-seventh minute as the Saddlers raced forwards through Blackett-Taylor, who then found Gordon in space, but the strikers low goal-ward effort was easily saved by the Wycombe shot-stopper.

The Saddlers continued to search for a late equaliser, with Nicky Devlin connecting with the bar in the seventy-ninth minute, but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as Ismail had been caught offside in the build-up.

Unperturbed, Walsall pushed forwards again, winning a corner ten minutes from time, which Blackett-Taylor swung into the box, but with none of his team-mates on hand to turn it home, the ball sailed harmlessly out of play.

Wycombe opted to make their third and final change of the match in the eighty-fifth minute, with Scott Kashket making way for Paris Cowan-Hall.

We entered six additional minutes with the Saddlers still trailing, and showing very little sign of doing anything to change that. Heading into the second of the six minutes, Wycombe won a corner, which thankfully came to nothing.

With three of the six minutes played, Scott Laird became the third player to see his name entered into the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a foul on Alex Samuel. The resulting free-kick being dealt with by the Saddlers defences.

That would be the last real action of the afternoon, as the Saddlers failed to find that bit of quality so desperately needed to score a goal and take a much needed point from the fixture. The side instead leaving empty handed, finding themselves staring relegation into League Two square in the face.

1 - 0
McCarthy (54')

Attendance: 5,595 (547)
Referee: Charles Breakpear
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