EFL Trophy: Walsall 6 Forest Green Rovers 0

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's EFL Trophy - Southern Group D clash between Walsall and Forest Green Rovers.
Darrell Clarke's Saddlers arrived at the match on the back of a dismal spell of form which saw them lose six of their previous seven all-competition outings.

The Reds needed to take maximum points if they were to secure a place in the Second Round of this season's competition, and, given their recent run of results, would have welcomed a win in any form.

Walsall Line-Up
L.Roberts; Norman, Scarr, Liddle, Cockerill-Mollett; Holden, Bates, Kinsella, McDonald; Gordon, Lavery. 

Substitutes: Rose; Sadler, Jules, K.Roberts; Hardy, Kiersey; Adebayo

Forest Green Rovers Line-Up
Smith; M.Mills, Collins, Morton, McGinley, Godwin-Malife, Monday, Taylor, I.Jones, Covil, Bunker

Substitutes: Thomas; Dawson, Saunders, Hill, Ogunleye, Artwell, D.Jones

Forest Green got the game underway and it was the visitors who created the first opening of the match as Aaron Collins found space on the edge of the area, his subsequent effort wasn't a threat to Liam Roberts who gathered the ball easily.

The Saddlers' opening shot of the match came via Wes McDonald as the winger did well to gather possession before bursting into the opposition area and seeing an effort saved. Josh Gordon was quickest to the rebound but fouled Matt Mills whilst taking his shot, resulting in a free kick.

Walsall continued their push for the opening goal and saw a ball go across the box following some neat play between Rory Holden and Gordon, the latter's ball into the box going behind Caolan Lavery as the scores remained level.

McDonald continued to chip in with efforts and saw a shot blocked by Udoka Godwin-Malife before forcing the goalkeeper into a save, with the ball eventually being cleared by a defender, just a couple of minutes later. Wes looking lively once again, further strengthening his argument for a permanent starting role.

The Saddlers were soon rewarded for their efforts and took the lead midway through the first-half as Josh Gordon netted just his second goal of the season.

The goal came via some good wing-work from Holden, who intercepted a pass before running towards goal and finding Lavery in space, his subsequent cross arrived at the feet of Gordon who slotted home to give his side the lead.

The Saddlers went on to double their lead just ten minutes later as McDonald, Lavery, and Gordon linked up once again to see the latter double his side's lead.

McDonald did well to read another pass before playing the ball to Lavery, his cross found Gordon in space as the former Leicester City prospect slipped the ball into the corner of goal after forcing his marker to blink first.

Forest Green didn't allow the Saddlers' goals to push them back and went on to force a corner kick which was swiftly taken and found Kyle Taylor in space but the advanced midfielder sent the ball into the stands with a disappointing effort.

With six minutes of the half remaining, and following a foul on goal-scorer Gordon, Walsall won a free-kick on the edge of Forest Green's area, which Cameron Norman was nominated to take.

After an interesting Paul Pogba-like run up, the defenders' first effort rebounded off the wall before a low daisy-cutter was easily gathered by an alert Adam Smith.

A superb performance from the Saddlers as they took their lead into the half-time break, a well-deserved orange segment all round!

2 - 0

Neither Darrell Clarke nor Mark Cooper opted to make a change to their line-ups at the break and Walsall got the match back underway with the two teams unchanged.

The Saddlers continued their search for more goals and went close just four minutes into the second forty-five as they regained possession in their own half before McDonald and Holden combined to almost find Lavery in space but the visitors were able to regroup via Nathan McGinley who cleared for an ultimately unused corner.

Walsall weren't finished there and went on to win a penalty kick as Mills was eventually adjudged to have handled the ball in the area. Josh Gordon was the man to step up and send the 'keeper the wrong way as he secured a well-deserved hat-trick.

The second-half continued to be something of a nightmare for Cooper's Forest Green as just a minute after Walsall had trebled their lead they saw their number cut to ten as Aaron Collins saw red for arguing with the officials - the striker picking up two bookings after the Saddlers' third goal.

Josh Gordon, buoyed by his treble, went close to grabbing another just a few minutes later as he saw a downward header hit the post following Holden's corner kick. The ball ultimately going behind for a goal-kick as Rovers looked to settle back into a rhythm following their dismal start to the half.

Darrell Clarke soon called upon his substitutes and went on to make a double change with hat-trick hero Josh Gordon being replaced by Elijah Adebayo and James Hardy taking the place of Caolan Lavery for the final third of the match.

Wes McDonald continued to be a threat and went on to win a corner kick with an effort from the edge of the area. The resulting flag-kick came to nothing as Harvey Bunker eventually cleared the danger.

Mark Cooper then decided to ring the changes with a trio of players coming on to the field as injury returnee Kevin Dawson, Oliver Artwell, and Dan Jones came on in place of Vaughn Covil, Matt Mills and Harvey Bunker.

Rovers' substitutes almost made an immediate impact as Dan Jones and Artwell combined to find Junior Mondal in space but, thankfully for the Saddlers, he could only scuff an effort past the post. Gary Liddle and Norman breathing a sigh of relief as their sloppy play made space for the visitors' attack.

The Saddlers then made their third and final change of the match as former Everton midfielder Jack Kiersey came off the bench to make just his third appearance of the season as Alfie Bates took his place on the bench.

Clarke's side continued to push up the pitch and soon saw another effort go close as Holden and Adebayo combined to find Dan Scarr in space, sadly the central defender was unable to guide an effort on goal as the ball went over the bar.

Walsall were undaunted by the miss and went on to further extend their lead a minute later as winger Wes McDonald capped off a superb display by adding his name to the scoresheet.

Wes and Holden combined once again before the former unleashed a first-time curling effort into the back of the net. Well deserved from Wes.

Just a couple of minutes after they'd grabbed their fourth the Saddlers made it five as Liam Kinsella added to the visitors' woes. The goal came via Adebayo who had seen an initial effort saved by Smith with Kins' the quickest to react as he smashed the ball home from outside the area.

Adebayo almost bagged his first goal of the game as he saw a post-corner header go wide of goal. Close but not close enough as the score remained five-nil to the Saddlers.

Wes McDonald was the next to have an effort on goal as he forced a save at the near post after leaving his man for dust. A simply superb showing from McDonald as he continued to torture the visitors who were keen to hear the full-time whistle.

The resulting corner came to nothing as the match neared its conclusion but not before the Saddlers added a sixth goal as right-back Cameron Norman added his name to the list of scorers as he rose well and headed home from Holden's free-kick.

A fully deserved win for the Saddlers who entered a ruthless display to book a place in the Second Round of the competition.

6 - 0
Gordon (23')
Gordon (33')
Gordon [P] (50')
McDonald (72')
Kinsella (74')
Norman (90')

Attendance: 621
Referee: Tom Nield
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