Match Report: Walsall 1 Mansfield Town 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Mansfield Town.
The Saddlers arrived at this weekend's clash on the back of a string of poor results as the recently rebuilt squad continues to struggle for form.

After an impeccably observed minute's silence, Mansfield Town got the match underway. Walsall began the game brightly, enjoying plenty of possession and forcing their opponents into defensive mode, as the hosts won an early corner, which ultimately came to nothing.

The Saddlers continued to play well, winning a second corner six minutes in, which was played into the box for Kory Roberts who drew a save from Town 'keeper, Conrad Logan.

With nine minutes played, Mansfield finally managed to create their first hint of an opening as former Saddler, Malvind Benning crossed the ball into the box, only to see it cleared at the front post.

Three minutes later, Benning attempted a similar cross with better results, as this time, Nicky Maynard met the ball at the front post and forced Walsall shot-stopper, Jack Rose into his first save of the afternoon with a decent header.

The visitors continued to grow into the game, winning a corner in the sixteenth minute as Maynard saw another effort on goal blocked by Dan Scarr. The ball in from the flag-kick was decent, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to clear the danger.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the sixteenth minute whilst Josh Gordon received treatment for a knock. He was soon back on his feet and able to continue, but Alexander MacDonald found his name being entered into the referee's notebook as he picked up a yellow card for the offending tackle.

Walsall looked likely to open the scoring in the twenty-second minute, as a ball over the top from Scarr found Rory Gaffney, who fired a low effort straight at Logan, who tipped the ball behind, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

With twenty-six minutes on the clock, the Saddlers were forced to make an early change to their line-up, as it became clear that Josh Gordon could not continue following the earlier knock and Elijah Adebayo was sent on in his place.

As we reached the half hour mark, Mansfield found themselves a goal to the good, as Otis Khan picked out former Walsall man, Andy Cook with a cross to the back post. The striker needing no second invitation to head home.

The Saddlers were quick to work the ball up to the other end, where Adebayo set Gaffney free, only for the latter to see his goal-bound effort blocked by Benning.

Walsall continued to press, with Callum Cockerill-Mollett playing Gaffney in again moments later, but this time the forwards headed effort sailed wide of the upright, without troubling the visiting defences.

The visitors soon saw a chance of their own go begging, as Benning attempted what would have been a rather spectacular effort from outside the box, but he was unable to keep the shot on target and the ball sailed wide of Rose's upright.

Thirty-seven minutes in, Stuart Sinclair joined MacDonald in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on the previously booked man.

The visiting side almost doubled their advantage in the fortieth minute, and Cook his tally for the afternoon, as the striker picked up the ball inside the box before turning and dragging an effort inches wide of the upright.

As we closed in on half-time, the Saddlers set about looking to draw level, but Logan remained alert in the Mansfield goal and collected a dangerous looking cross from Liam Kinsella, ahead of Gaffney.

With seconds of the first-half remaining, Walsall won a free-kick out on the right. Rory Holden whipped the ball into the box from the set-piece and Adebayo headed home to draw his side level.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half action, but neither side were able to create any further chances of note, and the sides headed off for their half-time grilling with the scores tied at one apiece.

1 - 1

The sides returned unchanged following the break, and Walsall got the action back underway. The Saddlers began the half well, and forced a corner just five minutes in as Adebayo saw an effort tipped around the post by Logan, but the flag-kick came to nothing.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the fifty-third minute, allowing Mansfield captain, Krystian Pearce to receive treatment for an injury, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

The Saddlers continued to look for a second goal once the match had re-started, with Adebayo looking to turn provider as he crossed the ball in towards the back post for Cameron Norman, who was unable to keep his shot on target.

With fifty-nine minutes on the clock, it was decided that Krystian Pearce would not be able to participate further, and another former Saddler, Matt Preston, took his place.

The visiting side won a corner soon after the change was completed, as Sinclair put the ball out of play, but the they were unable to make use of the set-piece.

In the sixty-second minute, Walsall opted to make their second change of the afternoon, as Alfie Bates made way for Danny Guthrie.

The Saddlers won a corner shortly after the change had been made, as Preston turned the ball behind, but the after a neat flick-on from Roberts, Gaffney found himself unable to stretch enough to turn the ball home at the back post.

Walsall were quick to create another chance for Gaffney, but the strikers sixty-seventh minute, right-footed effort from close range was saved by Logan.

Mansfield broke quickly, and did what the Saddlers had been unable to do, re-taking the lead through MacDonald who fired past Rose into the bottom corner.

Town almost doubled their advantage in he seventy-first minute, but Norman was well placed to make a last gasp clearance to deny Cook who was lurking in the danger zone.

With seventy-two minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make a third and final change to their team, as Wesley McDonald took the place of Rory Holden.

The Saddlers set about looking to draw level for the second time in the game following the change, with Adebayo firing inches over the crossbar in the seventy-seventh minute, after getting on the end of a Guthrie free-kick.

Mansfield soon had the ball back up at the other end, where they won a corner as a Khan cross was cleared behind, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to defend the flag-kick.

Ten minutes from time, Rose was forced to make a superb save to prevent an own goal, as the ball hit Scarr as it travelled across the face of goal from a Cook cross.

Andy Cook joined the ranks listed in the referee's notebook in the eighty-fifth minute, as he saw yellow for a foul on Scarr.

With eighty-eight minutes played, Mansfield opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Nicky Maynard making way as CJ Hamilton took to the field.

As we headed into three additional minutes, Town opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, with Andy Cook departing in favour of Oladapo Afolayan.

That would be the last of the afternoon's action, as Walsall yet again allowed their opponents to take all three points away from the fixture.

Another frustrating afternoon for Saddlers supporters, as they again witnessed their side failing to make the most of their chances or keep their opposition out.

1 - 2
Adebayo (45')

Cook (30')
MacDonald (68')
Attendance: 4,251 (877)
Referee: Andy Haines
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