Match Report: Crawley Town 2 Walsall 3

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Crawley Town and Walsall.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's match on the back of a duo of victories as goals from Stuart Sinclair and James Clarke saw them grab six much-needed points after securing narrow wins over Morecambe and Scunthorpe United respectively.

Crawley Town got the action underway, and it was the hosts who enjoyed the brighter start as they looked to gain an early foothold in the match, but the Walsall defences stood firm in the early goings and limited their opposition's ability to fire anything goal-wards.

The home side continued to probe, but struggled to remain onside as balls were fired forwards. Both Jordan Tunnicliffe and Panutche Camera falling foul of the offside rule in the sixth and seventh minute respectively.

Walsall won the first corner of the game in the ninth minute as they began to grow into the game, but the Crawley defences stood firm and cleared the danger.

Somewhat against the run of play, James Clarke powered Walsall into the lead in the fourteenth minute. The striker firing a powerful effort home from thirty yards.

The Saddlers continued to press, buoyed by the goal, with Wesley McDonald going close to securing a second just three minutes after the first, but Glenn Morris was alert to the danger and prevented the ball finding the back of the net.

Two minutes later, with the ball back at the other end, the hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty as Reece Grego-Cox was felled inside the area by Zak Jules, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

Crawley continued to press, as they looked to get back on level terms, drawing a save from Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts in the twenty-second minute as Tom Dallison fired a header goal-wards from close range. The home side then forced a corner moments later, but the Saddlers defences were able to clear the danger.

With twenty-seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers doubled their advantage, as again, somewhat against the run of play, McDonald picked up the ball out on the wing and drove to the byline, beating David Sesay, before cutting the ball back for Elijah Adebayo who fired home with a right-footed effort from close range.

Crawley set about looking for a route back into the game, and almost found one in the thirty-fifth minute, as Nathaniel-George looked to set up Mason Enigboken-Bloomfield who fired an effort in on goal which was deflected off the line for a corner, which came to nothing.

The hosts continued to press, with Roberts called into action five minutes from time to deny Bloomfield, with the two involved again moments later, as the 'keeper felled the striker in the box to see Crawley awarded a penalty in the forty-second minute.

Nathaniel-George stepped up to take the spot-kick, and coolly converted with a low shot into the bottom left corner to bring his side back to within a goal of their opposition.

Just two minutes later, once more somewhat against the run of play, the Saddlers restored thier two goal advantage, as Rory Holden played the ball to McDonald who cut inside and powered an effort into the far corner.

Town won a corner as we headed into three additional minutes, but they were unable to make use of the set-piece, which would be the last real action of note. The sides heading off for their half-time refreshments with the Saddlers leading by three-goals-to-one.

1 - 3

Crawley opted to make a change ahead of the second-half, with goalscorer Ashley Nathaniel-George being replaced by Bez Lubala, before Walsall got the action back underway.

The hosts started the half brightly, as they set about looking for a route back into the game, and went close just six minutes in as the recently introduced Lubala fired an effort in from thirty yards. His shot sailing inches wide of Roberts upright.

The substitute continued to look dangerous as he looked to play Nathan Ferguson in in the fifty-fourth minute, but the effort from the midfielder sailed well wide of the target.

The Saddlers opted to make a double change in the fifty-fifth minute, with both Wes McDonald and Elijah Adebayo departing early as Liam Kinsella and Josh Gordon took their places.

The hosts continued to look the brighter side, and won a corner for their efforts in the fifty-eighth minute as Mat Sadler deflected a Dannie Bulman effort behind, but the flag-kick came to nothing.

With an hour played, Rory Holden became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Lubala.

The Saddlers then opted to make a third and final change to their line-up, as Danny Guthrie made way for Gary Liddle.

Three minutes later, Crawley followed suit, as captain Dannie Bulman made way for Josh Payne.

With sixty-six minutes on the clock, David Sesay became the second player to enter the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a poor challenge.

The game became something of a midfield battle as it continued, with the Saddlers content to defend their lead, which they did stoically.

Crawley did win a corner in the seventy-third minute, as a cross from Grego-Cox was blocked behind, but they were unable to make use of the ball in from the flag-kick.

Three minutes later, the hosts did go close, with a close-range shot from Sesay sailing inches over the Saddlers crossbar.

With ten minutes still to play, the home side won another corner, as Grego-cox saw another cross blocked behind. This resulted in another flag-kick as Roberts pulled off a great save to deny Lubala's thunderous effort. Crawley were unable to trouble the 'keeper with their second effort.

The home side were quick to regain possession, with Payne firing a shot goal-wards in the eighty-fifth minute, but his effort sailed high over the crossbar.

As we reached the ninetieth minute, Crawley opted to make a third and final change to their line-up, as Nathan Ferguson made way for Tarryn Allarakhia.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time Payne closed the gap on Walsall, firing home from outside the area. It proved to be too little, too late for his side though, with the referee ending the contest with Walsall running out winners by three-goals-to-one, though not before booking Liam Kinsella for a foul in the ninety-fourth minute.

A much improved performance from the Saddlers overall, as they capitalised on their chances and defended stoically, for the most part...

2 - 3
Nathaniel-George [P] (42')
Payne (90+3')

Clarke (14')
Adebayo (27')
McDonald (44')
Attendance: 2,274 (264)
Referee: Sam Purkiss
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