Match Report: Walsall 1 Cheltenham Town 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Cheltenham Town.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's clash in need of a return to form following a of a duo of defeats - to Salford City and Leyton Orient respectively - and with an almost equal need to see some goals from the front-line, who had been firing blanks over recent weeks.

Cheltenham Town got the match underway, but it wasn't until the seventh minute that either side created a real opening; the visitors winning a corner as Liam Roberts was forced to turn a Chris Hussey shot behind, but the flag-kick was easily cleared by the Walsall defences.

The visiting side continued to test the Saddlers defences as the game continued, winning another corner in the ninth minute as Cameron Pring turned the ball out of play, but the hosts stood firm to clear the danger.

With thirteen minutes on the clock, the hosts were finally able to apply a little pressure to the Cheltenham defences, winning a corner themselves as a pass aimed for Rory Gaffney was blocked, but the visiting defences were able to keep the Saddlers from making use of the flag-kick.

Both sides enjoyed spells in possession as the game continued, but neither was able to test their opposition 'keeper's, though Conor Thomas did almost manage to play Luke Varney in, but the latter was caught in an offside position so the move came to a premature conclusion.

Nineteen minutes in, Ryan Broom flashed the ball across the area, where Gavin Reilly got on the end of it, but a Walsall body was on hand to block the initial effort, before Jake Doyle-Hayes picked up the loose ball and saw an effort on goal turned behind by Roberts, and the resulting corner came to nothing.

Three minutes later, Roberts was again tasked with making a save as a Sean Long cross was met by the head of Luke Varney, but the Saddlers shot-stopper was well placed to block the shot.

Walsall soon had the ball up at the other end, where some good work from Gaffney saw Stuart Sinclair played into shooting range, but Jacob Greaves was on hand for the visitors and cleared the ball behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

As we reached the half hour mark, Ryan Broom became the first player to see his name added to the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul which saw Josh Gordon receive an elbow to the face.

The Saddlers should probably have scored from the resulting free-kick, as Town 'keeper, Scott Flinders spilt the initial effort under pressure, allowing Gordon to follow up with a right-footed effort which sailed inches wide of the far post.

Walsall continued to look the brighter side, with Gordon again finding himself in shooting distance in the thirty-second minute, but Flinders was able to get his body in the way to block the shot, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

With thirty-five minutes on the clock, Cheltenham took the lead, as Pring was forced to turn the ball out of play for a corner, which Hussey whipped into the box, where Roberts initially caught and then dropped the ball, allowing Ben Tozer to turn it home with a right-footed effort from close range.

Buoyed by their goal, the visitors again got forwards moments later, but after some good work, Varney was unable to keep his effort on target, with the ball sailing wide of Roberts upright.

After a quiet five minutes, one additional minute was added to end the half, but neither side was able to create anything further and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with Cheltenham leading by one-goal-to-nil.

0 - 1

The sides returned unchanged after the break, and the Saddlers got the action back underway. After a quiet opening seven minutes to the half, the Saddlers were awarded a penalty as Gordon was felled inside the area by Hussey. Josh stepped up to take the spot-kick and coolly slotted home to secure his first goal of the season and bring his side back on level terms.

With fifty-eight minutes on the clock, Cheltenham restored their earlier lead as Reilly set up Luke Varney following a quick break, with the latter firing home with a left-footed effort which found the bottom right corner.

Just four minutes later, the visitors went close again, as Varney picked up the ball out on the left before finding the crossbar with a deflected effort, which saw his side win a corner, which came to nothing.

Liam Kinsella became the second player to find his name being entered into the referee's notebook, as he saw yellow for a foul on Doyle-Hayes.

Cheltenham thought they had extended their lead in the sixty-seventh minute, as a diving header from Varney nestled in the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out for an infringement of the offside rule.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, Walsall manager, Darrell Clarke opted to make a double change, as he brought off Liam Kinsella and Rory Holden in favour of Gary Liddle and Elijah Adebayo.

Adebayo was quick to get involved, getting on the end of a Sinclair header in the seventy-first minute, but the forward effort was struck into the ground, allowing Flinders to save.

The Saddlers continued to press as they looked to get back into the game, with Gordon firing a volley goal-wards from thirty yards, but he was unable to keep the effort on target. Moments later, Adebayo was given another opportunity to shoot, but Tozer put his body in the way to block the shot.

Seventy-six minutes into the game, Cheltenham opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Gavin Reilly was replaced by Alex Addai.

In the seventy-seventh minute, James Clarke became the third player to see yellow, as the club captain was booked for bringing down Greaves.

Four minutes later, Cheltenham shot-stopper, Scott Flinders joined the growing ranks in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for time wasting.

The Saddlers should have equalised six minutes from time, but Gordon's effort on goal was blocked by Greaves, before Adebayo fired the rebound over the bar.

With eighty-four minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Rory Gaffney made way for James Hardy.

Cheltenham responded by making a second change to their own moments later, as Jake Doyle-Hayes was replaced by Rohan Ince.

Ince was quick to get involved in the action, winning an eighty-eighth minute corner for his side as his cross into the box was blocked behind, but the flag-kick was dealt with by the Saddlers defences.

The visitors made a final change to their line-up in the eighty-ninth minute as they looked to run down the clock, with Luke Varney departing in favour of Jonte Smith.

Six additional minutes were added to end the game, but neither side was able to make use of the extra time and the game was brought to an end with Cheltenham's narrow lead still intact. Another disappointing display from the Saddlers, with a number of individual errors on show, along with an all too familiar lack of clinical finishing.

1 - 2
Gordon [P] (52')

Tozer (35')
Varney (58')
Attendance: 4,494 (708)
Referee: Darren Drysdale
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