Match Report: Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 0 Match Report: Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 0
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Crewe Alexandra 1 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between the Saddlers and Crewe Alexandra.
Walsall arrived at the match on the back of a midweek Carabao Cup - Round One defeat to Crawley Town and in search of a second league win of the 2019/20 campaign.

Darrell Clarke's side, who took over 1,400 supporters to the North West, opened their League Two campaign with a win over Northampton Town but could only take a point our of Forest Green Rovers last weekend.

Crewe got the match underway, but it was the Saddlers who enjoyed the better start, creating their first chance just three minutes in as a neat one-two between Caolan Lavery and Cameron Pring culminated in the former seeing a twelve yard shot sail wide of the upright.

Walsall continued to look the brighter side, winning a corner in the fifth minute, as a Cameron Norman throw-in was headed out of play, but the flag-kick would come to nothing as Dan Scarr was penalised for a push as the ball came in.

Unperturbed, the Saddlers continued to press, with James Clarke seeing a right-footed effort from range sail high over the bar in the tenth minute, and three minutes later, Lavery saw an effort from outside the box, saved as it headed towards the bottom right corner.

Crewe finally began to enjoy a little more time on the ball as we raced towards the quarter hour mark, winning a free-kick on the left wing as Chris Porter drew a foul from Clarke. The hosts then won a corner as Pring turned the ball behind. The flag-kick was cleared by the Saddlers, but only as far as Tom Lowery, who fired an effort in on goal, which was deflected wide by Porter.

The earlier momentum was then restored, as the Saddlers worked the ball back up to the other end, and won a corner of their own thanks to Eddie Nolan who put the ball out of play. The ball was played out to Norman from the flag-kick, who attempted a long-range, right-footed effort, which was easily saved by Will Jaaskelainen in the Alex goal.

Another corner followed for the hosts, in the twenty-first minute, as a Daniel Powell shot was blocked behind by Scarr. The ball in was good, and fell to Porter on the edge of the box, with the forward then firing an effort in, which the visiting defences did well to block.

Liam Roberts was then called into action five minutes later, as the home side began to gain a foot hold in the game. Charlie Kirk doing well to create space out on the left, before crossing the ball into the box, but the Walsall shot-stopper was alert to the danger and rushed to catch it.

After a brief quiet spell from the Saddlers, they soon had the ball back in the Crewe box thanks to some brilliant play by Norman, but the midfielders cross into the box was unable to find a team-mate to turn it home.

The match became more of an open affair as it continued, with a good run up-field from Crewe in the thirty-second minute, culminating in Harry Pickering cutting inside before curling a right-footed effort over Roberts crossbar from the edge of the area.

Back at the other end, moments later, the Saddlers won a flag-kick as Daniel Powell was forced to turn the ball out of play. The ball was whipped into the box by Norman and deflected behind by Eddie Nolan for a second corner kick, which in turn was put out of play for a third flag-kick by Ryan Wintle. At the third attempt, Walsall finally saw a shot on goal, with Scarr heading high and wide from close range.

The visitors continued to press, and won a further corner in the thirty-sixth minute as a powerful effort from Pring was deflected behind by Olly Lancashire, but the flag-kick came to nothing.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the thirty-seventh minute, whilst Porter received treatment for an injury, but the striker was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Five minutes before the break, the home side won another corner themselves, as a right-footed Paul Green effort from inside the box was cleared behind, but the flag-kick came to nothing and the Saddlers raced the ball back up to the other end, where Josh Gordon met a through-ball from Pring, though he was unable to make anything of the chance as he tangled with a defender and the move fizzled out.

The Saddlers then went on to win yet another corner as they continued to press for an opening goal, Green being forced to put the ball behind, but it came to nothing, as did the Crewe corner which followed moments later.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to make use of them, and the sides headed into the break with the scores tied as they had been at the start of play.

0 - 0

The teams returned unchanged following the interval, and Walsall got the match back underway. Crewe began the half brightly, winning a corner just two minutes in as a low cross from Harry Pickering was diverted behind just ahead of Porter who looked certain to score, but ultimately the flag-kick came to nothing and the score remained level.

The hosts continued to look the better side as the game continued, with Roberts forced to make a superb save to deny Pickering's powerful left-footed effort from just outside the box in the fiftieth minute, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

After a slow start to the half, the Saddlers finally found themselves in shooting range in the fifty-fifth minute, as some superb work from Jack Kiersey set Gordon racing forwards, but none of their team-mates were able to get into position to meet his eventual cut-back and the move trailed off without incident.

There was then a brief pause in proceedings whilst Kiersey received treatment for a knock. He was eventually able to continue, but just a minute later, in the fifty-ninth minute, Darrell Clarke opted to bring both Jack Kiersey and Cameron Norman off, with James Hardy and Wesley McDonald taking their places for the final half hour.

With sixty-one minutes on the clock, the hosts took the lead, as a deflected effort from captain, Perry Ng, fell to Nolan, who fired a left-footed shot home from the centre of the box.

The Saddlers looked to respond quickly after falling behind, with Lavery firing an effort goal-wards in the sixty-sixth minute, but there was a little too much height on the effort and it sailed harmlessly over the bar, moments after a McDonald shot from outside the box was blocked.

With sixty-nine minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Josh Gordon made way for Elijah Adebayo.

Two minutes later, Crewe chose to make their first substitution, as Daniel Powell departed, in favour of Owen Dale.

With seventy-three minutes on the clock, former Saddler, Olly Lancashire became the first player to enter the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Adebayo. The resulting free-kick was fired goal-wards by Pring, but the twenty-five yard effort sailed high over the crossbar and into the stands.

Walsall continued to look the more likely to score as they looked for a route back into the game, winning a corner in the seventy-fifth minute as Green was forced to turn the ball behind. The flag-kick was played out to Stuart Sinclair who looked to pick out Lavery with a cross into the area, but Jaaskelainen was quick off his line and claimed ahead of the striker.

With seventy-eight minutes played, Alex captain, Perry Ng became the second player to enter the referee's notebook, seeing yellow for a sliding tackle on Pring.

Eight minutes from time, Crewe had the ball in the back of the net through Kirk, who picked up the ball after Roberts made a superb save to deny Porter an almost certain goal, but the striker was adjudged to have been offside and the goal was disallowed.

Relieved to have been let off, the Saddlers raced up to the other end, where they won another corner, which was met by the head of Scarr, who powered the ball over the crossbar. The visiting side continued to press, and went close again moments later, as Adebayo picked out Hardy in the box, but the midfielders first-time strike was blocked.

The hosts soon had the ball back up at the other end, where Roberts pulled off a superb double-save, to deny first Lowery then Pickering.

As we reached the ninety minute mark, a second bookable offence from Olly Lancashire, saw the defender sent off.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time, Cameron Pring was added to the referee's notebook for a foul on Wintle, before Dan Scarr picked up a yellow card for a high challenge on Nolan.

That would be the last of the afternoons action though, with the Saddlers unable to find a late reply to Alex's goal, and the final whistle sounded with Crewe taking all three points. A disappointing result for the Saddlers, who dominated late portions of the game, but were not clinical enough in taking their chances.

1 - 0
Nolan (61')

Attendance: 4,629
Referee: Alan Young
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