Match Report: Walsall 0 Bradford City 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Bradford City.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's clash on the back of a goalless draw with Colchester United, a result which saw Darrell Clarke's side secure their fourth clean-sheet of the season.

The team has been struggling for goals as of late and went into the match in search of just their second win of the campaign.

Matt Palmer got the action underway, and it wasn't long before his side were on the attack, with Dylan Connolly looking to get an early cross into the box. A move which resulted in a throw-in for Bradford City, which brought Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts into action, as he plucked the ball out of the air to stop the move.

Bradford continued to press, winning a corner in the seventh minute as Zak Jules was forced to turn the ball out of play. The ball into the box from Connolly found James Vaughan who headed past Roberts, but the referee spotted a foul on the 'keeper and the goal was chalked off.

With just eleven minutes on the clock, Zak Jules became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook as he saw yellow for a foul on Connolly. The resulting free-kick looked promising for the visitors, but the Saddlers defences were eventually able to clear the danger.

The visiting side continued to look the more likely to score, with Vaughan drawing a superb save from Roberts in the twelfth minute, before the game was paused briefly to allow Dan Scarr to receive treatment, though the Walsall man was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

The Bantams continued to seek an opening goal, with Connolly firing a long-range effort goal-wards in the fourteenth minute, which was turned behind by the Walsall defences. The resulting corner was swung into the box where James Clarke was on hand to head clear.

Walsall finally began to see more of the ball as we headed past the quarter hour mark, with the side winning a free-kick in the seventeenth minute, twenty-five yards from goal. Danny Guthrie looked to send the ball into the box from the set-piece, but was unable to beat the wall, with another break in play resulting as Harry Pritchard received treatment for a knock to the head. Play resumed shortly afterwards with the midfielder able to reprise his role.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy more of the ball as the game continued, though they were unable to create much forward momentum, though they did go close in the twenty-sixth minute as Rory Gaffney played the ball into the path of Caolan Lavery who fired a powerful effort goal-wards, forcing former Saddler, Richard O'Donnell into action to push the ball clear.

In the twenty-ninth minute, Kevin Mellor joined Jules in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Liam Kinsella. The resulting free-kick was played goal-wards by Guthrie, who was unable to find the target from an acute angle, instead sending the ball sailing wide of the upright.

Bradford soon had the ball back up at the other end, where they won a corner as Jules blocked a cross, but the set-piece came to nothing as the Saddlers continued to defend stoically.

With forty-one minutes on the clock, Roberts was called into action again, as the visitors won a corner, which the Walsall shot-stopper was able to hold.

Moments later, it was the turn of O'Donnell, as the Saddlers won a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal, with Guthrie floated into the box, before the Bantams shot-stopper gathered following a brief game of head tennis.

Three additional minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time a floated cross from Gaffney was met by Lavery, but the strikers headed effort sailed well over the crossbar.

That was to be the last real action before the interval, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied.

0 - 0

The sides returned unchanged following the break, and Walsall got the action back underway. The Saddlers started the half brightly, with Gaffney forcing O'Donnell into action from the edge of the box just three minutes in.

Moments later, Bradford created a chance of their own as Connolly picked out Vaughan who hooked the ball goal-wards, but Roberts was alert to the danger and saved. The visitors continued to see plenty of the ball as the game continued, and Vaughan again drew Roberts into action in the fifty-third minute, with a shot which the Walsall 'keeper comfortably saved.

The Saddlers then won a free-kick in a promising position, which Guthrie stepped forward to take, but the midfielder was unable to trouble the Bantams defences.

With fifty-six minutes on the clock, Darrell Clarke opted to make his first change of the afternoon, replacing Zak Jules with Callum Cockerill-Mollett for the final thirty-four minutes.

The change was closely followed by a pause in play, allowing Vaughan to receive treatment, but the Bradford skipper was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Walsall continued to see plenty of the ball as the afternoon wore on, and went close to opening the scoring in the sixty-second minute as Gaffney curled a lovely effort in from the left, towards the far corner, but O'Donnell remained alert and was able to keep the ball out.

Both sides then took the opportunity to make changes to their line-ups, with Rory Holden making way for James Hardy for the Saddlers, whilst the Bantams sent Callum Cooke on to take the place of Daniel Devine.

Two minutes later, the visiting side opted to make a further change to their team, as Dylan Connolly made way for Shay McCartan.

With seventy-one minutes on the clock, the recently introduced Hardy looked to break the deadlock, but his right-footed effort from outside the box was blocked before it could test O'Donnell. The Saddlers continued to press, and Gaffney saw an effort sail wide in the seventy-third minute.

With seventy-six minutes on the clock, the Bantams were awarded a penalty as Vaughan was unnecessarily felled inside the area by Scarr. Vaughan stepped forward to take the spot-kick, but the striker skied his effort and the scores remained tied.

Twelve minutes from time, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the day, with Caolan Lavery making way as Josh Gordon took to the field. Gordon looked to make an immediate impact, but O'Donnell was well placed to gather the effort.

The Saddlers then won a corner, as Matthew Palmer turned the ball behind, but the flag-kick came to nothing.

With just six minutes of the regulation ninety remaining, Vaughan made up for his earlier miss, turning home a long throw from Harry Pritchard, with the ball taking a deflection off an unfortunately placed Liam Kinsella on its way past Roberts.

Buoyed by their goal, the visitors continued to press as they looked to put the game to bed, but Vaughan was not so fortunate in the eighty-seventh minute, as his headed effort from the centre of the box sailed high and wide.

The Saddlers won a free-kick in a dangerous position as we headed into four minutes of added time, but Hardy was unable to keep his right-footed effort on target.

That would be the last real action, and the referee blew for full-time with the Bantams one goal lead intact. The Saddlers run of poor form, mixed in with a little bad luck continuing as they saw all three points head north.

0 - 1

Kinsella [OG] (83')
Attendance: 4,649
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
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