Match Report: Walsall 0 Salford City 3

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Salford City.
Darrell Clarke's Saddlers arrived at this weekend's match on the back of a midweek EFL Trophy victory over Southampton Under-21s and in search of  a fifth all-competition win on the bounce.

Over the last few weeks the Reds have been able to ease their relegation fears and show just a little of their potential as the recently rebuilt team continues to gel following a summer of change in WS1.

Salford City got the match underway, and it wasn't long before they fired a first, tentative effort goal-wards as Luke Armstrong found himself in shooting range and looked to test Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts with a left-footed shot, which ultimately had too much height on it as it sailed over the crossbar.

The Saddlers soon had the ball up at the other end, where they won a free-kick, which Rory Holden curled into the box for Elijah Adebayo, who had crept in ahead of his marker, but Salford 'keeper, Kyle Letheren was alert to the danger, turning the ball out of play, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

City were quick to get back on the attack, with Cameron Burgess looking to play Armstrong in with a cute through-ball in the seventh minute, but the striker had run ahead of his man and was caught offside, ensuring nothing would come of the move.

The two sides began to settle into the game, exchanging free-kicks for minor fouls, with neither side able to really test their opposition, until a twelfth minute set-piece resulted in a Salford corner as Dan Scarr was forced to head the ball out of bounds. Armstrong met the flag-kick at the near post, but Roberts got down well to claim the ball.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a good spell in possession, and looked the more likely to score, with Jake Jervis going close with a headed effort which sailed inches over the bar, before play was called back for an infringement of the offside rule.

With twenty-one minutes on the clock, Salford were able to make their early dominance pay, with Armstrong putting his side ahead with a right-footed effort from the centre of the box, after an unfortunate Roberts spilled the ball.

The Saddlers looked to get back on level terms immediately, with Holden picking up the ball twenty-five yards from goal and firing a curling effort in from distance, but Letheren was well placed to gather.

Walsall continued to enjoy a slightly brighter spell, with Josh Gordon seeing a twenty-five yard effort saved, before captain, James Clarke fired an effort wide.

With twenty-nine minutes on the clock, Adam Rooney became the first player to see his name added to the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Wesley McDonald.

The Saddlers continued to pressure their opponents a little more, as they looked to get back on level terms, with both Clarke and McDonald firing wide in three minutes which followed the booking.

With five minutes of the first-half remaining, Walsall enjoyed their best chance so far, as Clarke crossed the ball in for Adebayo, who fired a driven effort goal-wards, only to see his shot deflected behind. The resulting corner was then punched clear by Letheren.

The visiting side were quick to work the ball back up to the other end, where Armstrong saw a right-footed effort blocked by Scarr, and the resulting corner was easily dealt with by the Saddlers defences.

Walsall went on to see another chance go begging moments later, as McDonald worked his way into the Salford box before passing the ball across the box, with an empty net asking to be filled, but none of his team-mates was able to get to it ahead of the City defences who were able to clear the danger.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, during which time, Scarr saw a headed effort from the centre of the box saved. That would be the last of the action though as the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments, with Salford City leaded by one-goal-to-nil at the break.

0 - 1

The sides returned unchanged following the interval, and Walsall got the action back underway. The Saddlers began the half brightly, seeing plenty of the early ball, though they were unable to make use of it to test their oppositions defences.

With forty-nine minutes on the clock, Salford doubled their advantage, as Scarr failed to make a clean clearance, forcing Roberts to push the ball into the path of Jervis as he cleared a first shot, leaving the midfielder free to slot home.

The hosts were soon back up at the other end, as they set out in search of a goal back, but after winning a corner which came to nothing, they saw their opponents again come away with the ball.

Fifty-six minutes into the contest, Walsall manager, Darrell Clarke opted to make a double change to his line-up, as both Mat Sadler and Wesley McDonald departed early, allowing James Hardy and Alfie Bates to take their places.

The hosts then went close again as they continued their search for a route back into the game, but Adebayo's right-footed effort from range sailed narrowly wide of Letheren's upright.

With an hour played, the visiting side went close to securing a third goal, which would surely have put the game to bed, as Jervis was picked out at the back post, but the Saddler's shot-stopper was alert to the danger and got down well to keep the ball out, keeping his side just about in the game.

Salford continued to enjoy a brighter spell, and thought they had scored a third in sixty-fourth minute as Armstrong found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed by the officials.

The home side soon had the ball back in shooting range, up at the other end, with the recently introduced Bates trying his luck from thirty yards with a free-kick, which he kept low, but Letheren was well placed to make the save.

With sixty-five minutes on the clock, Joey Jones became the second player to see his name added to the referee's notebook.

Moments later, the Saddlers should have pulled a goal back, as Gordon cut inside and fired a powerful effort goal-wards, only to see his shot cannon off the upright. So close.

In the sixty-eighth minute, the Walsall bench opted to introduce their third and final substitute of the afternoon, as Zak Jules made way for Callum Cockerill-Mollett.

Eighteen minutes from time, Salford effectively put the game to bed, as the ball fell to Ibou Touray on the edge of the box, with the defender duly converting with a left-footed effort which found the top corner.

With seventy-six minutes on the clock, the visiting side opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Craig Conway was asked to make way for Oscar Threlkeld.

Walsall substitutes, Bates and Hardy, combined well in the seventy-eighth minute, as they looked to prevent their opposition leaving the Midlands with a clean-sheet, but Letheren was again well placed to gather.

Ten minutes from time, City chose to make a second change to their line-up, with Adam Rooney making way for Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.

Both sides enjoyed plenty of the ball as time ebbed away, but neither were able to create much forward momentum, as they settled into something of a midfield battle.

Three minutes from time, Salford made their third and final change of the day, with Luke Armstrong making way as Danny Whitehead entered the fray.

Four minutes were added to end the game, as Gordon headed wide from close range. With seconds remaining, Cameron Burgess joined Rooney and Jones in the referee's notebook as he saw yellow for a poor tackle on Adebayo, but that would be the last action of note as the game drew to a close with Salford's three-goals-to-nil lead intact.

A poor display from the Saddlers, who were unable to capitalise on their recent momentum, as they lacked both the cutting edge to their attack which had been on display recently, and their defensive prowess against opposition who took full advantage.

0 - 3

Armstrong (21')
Jervis (49')
Touray (72')
Attendance: 4,751 (218)
Referee: Trevor Kettle
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