Match Report: Northampton Town 0 Walsall 1 Match Report: Northampton Town 0 Walsall 1

Match Report: Northampton Town 0 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's season-opening League Two clash between Northampton Town and Walsall.
The Saddlers returned to action with a fresh outlook and rebuilt squad as manager Darrell Clarke, backed by new chairman Leigh Pomlett, took his side to the Cobblers' PTS Academy Stadium for the opening game of the season.

Walsall began their opening game of their League Two campaign brightly, forcing a corner just two minutes in as Charlie Goode was forced to block a cross. The ball was played short before being chipped towards the back post, where Scott Wharton was on hand to head behind. Wharton was again involved as the second corner came in, heading the delivery on to Northampton Town captain, Charlie Goode whose clearance was deflected behind for a goal-kick.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Cameron Norman going close in the fifth minute with a dipping effort which sailed inches over the bar from twenty-five yards. Moments later, another long-range shot was fired goalwards by the visiting side, but Elijah Adebayo's effort sailed high over the crossbar.

With seven minutes on the clock, the hosts created a chance of their own as Matt Warburton and Harry Smith combined to set up Sam Hoskins, who cut inside before curling a shot wide of the far post.

The Saddlers soon had the ball back up at the other end, where they won another corner in the thirteenth minute, which Danny Guthrie into the box for Walsall captain, James Clarke whose headed effort rebounded off the bar before trickling over the line, before Josh Gordon nodded home from close range to make doubly sure the goal would stand.

The hosts looked to get back on level terms quickly and almost succeeded in the eighteenth minute through Hoskins who launched a solo run, evading the Saddlers defences before sending a cross-come-shot into the box, but Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts was on hand to gather.

Roberts was again called into action four minutes later, as the home side increased their efforts. Smith bringing down a high ball from Hoskins inside the area, before seeing his effort on goal powered over the bar by the Walsall 'keeper. The resulting corner was swung into the box by Joe Martin, who found the head of Goode, but Roberts was again on hand, claiming the ball with ease.

Northampton thought they had equalised in the twenty-fourth minute, as Adams fired the ball into the back of the net after launching a pacy run into the box, but the linesman's flag was raised for an infringement of the offside rules, and the goal was disallowed.

Buoyed by their close call, the hosts continued to press, winning a corner in the twenty-sixth minute as Cameron Pring blocked a ball in from Adams. The ball was delivered into the box by Adams from the flag-kick, but neither Goode nor Wharton was able to get a touch on it and the ball sailed out of the danger zone without issue.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as we raced past the half-hour mark, but Town continued to look the brighter side as they sought an equaliser, with Goode going close again in the thirty-fourth minute with a headed effort which drew a fine save from the man between the sticks.

With thirty-eight minutes on the clock, Elijah Adebayo became the first player to see yellow, picking up a booking for preventing a free-kick being taken.

The Saddlers finally began to see more of the ball again as we rapidly headed towards the break, but they were unable to make use of their spell in possession, and were soon on the back-foot again, with Clarke and Mat Sadler defending well to deny Smith a late goal.

One additional minute was added to end the first half, but neither side was able to create anything further, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the Saddlers leading by one-goal-to-nil.

0 - 1

The two sides returned unchanged after the break, and the second-half got off to a slow start, with both sides taking a little time to settle back into the action. With fifty-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers won a corner, which was crossed into the area by Guthrie and met the head of Adebayo, but the strikers' close-range effort sailed over the bar at the back-post.

With fifty-six minutes on the clock, Alan McCormack became the second player to enter the referee's notebook, seeing yellow for a foul.

The visitors continued to look the brighter side and could have doubled their advantage in the fifty-seventh minute as the ball fell to Liam Kinsella, but his effort on goal was blocked before the danger was cleared. The Saddlers soon had the ball back in the danger zone though, with Gordon firing an effort in, which was blocked by Wharton, before Kinsella fired wide.

As we reached the hour mark, an injury to Alan McCormack forced the first substitution of the afternoon, as he made way for Shaun McWilliams.

The hosts began to see more of the ball following the change, with Smith doing well to control the ball a minute after the change, before firing a twenty-five-yard effort high over Roberts bar. Walsall were quick to work the ball back up-field from the goal-kick, allowing Pring to launch a run into the box before firing a low effort in on goal, which Northampton 'keeper, David Cornell did well to save.

The hosts opted to make a second change to their line-up in the sixty-fourth minute, with Matt Warburton making way as Andy Williams took his place.

With sixty-seven minutes played, Reece Hall-Johnson picked up a yellow card for a foul on Kinsella.

Northampton went close to finding an equaliser twenty minutes from time, as Adams did well to create space out wide to cross the into the box, but Roberts was on hand for the Saddlers to punch clear, before Hoskins fired the loose ball high over the crossbar.

Liam Kinsella became the fourth player to see yellow in the seventy-second minute, picking up a booking for a challenge on McWilliams, as his side opted to make their first change of the afternoon as Danny Guthrie made way for Gary Liddle.

The Saddlers went close to a second moments later, as Gordon raced into the box before seeing his cross diverted to Kinsella, who in turn hit Adebayo with his effort on goal before the ball went out of play.

Seventy-six minutes in, Dan Scarr joined the ranks in the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Smith.

The home side then opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Reece Hall-Johnson made way for Ryan Watson.

Ten minutes from time, yet another name was added to the referee's notebook, as Josh Gordon picked up his first card of the season for a foul on McWilliams.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the eighty-second minute, as Clarke went down suffering from a dead-leg. The Saddlers skipper was eventually able to return to his feet and continue, though he appeared to be struggling.

Northampton continued to seek an equaliser as the game got back underway, with Roberts again saving the Saddlers skin as he denied Williams from a flag-kick with a superb save.

Three minutes shy of the ninety, James Clarke was forced to retire from the game, making way for Zak Jules for the closing minutes, and moments later, the Saddlers opted to make their final change of the afternoon too, as Josh Gordon departed early, allowing Rory Holden a run-out.

As the game ticked into it's ninetieth minute, the officials indicated that a further seven minutes would be played. There was little action during that time, as the Saddlers defended their slender lead well, though Hoskins went close in the ninety-fifth minute with a right-footed effort from range, which was blocked inside the box.

That would be the last real action of the afternoon though, as the referee signalled an end to the contest with Walsall's one-goal-to-nil lead intact. The Saddlers picking up three points from their first League Two outing, with a solid defensive display.

0 - 1

Clarke (13')
Attendance: 6,260 (1,455)
Referee: Nick Kinseley
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