FA Cup Match Report: Walsall 0 Oxford United 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Emirates FA Cup - Second Round clash between Walsall and Oxford United.
The Saddlers arrived at their match against Karl Robinson's in-form Oxford on the back of a welcome spell of their own. Five games unbeaten gave the Saddlers plenty of hope as they sought to secure a place in Monday's Third Round draw.

James Henry got the match underway, but it was Walsall who started the brighter, seeing plenty of the ball in the early goings and creating the first half-chance of the afternoon just a minute in as Caolan Lavery found space on the right before crossing a low ball into the area, where Oxford United goalkeeper, Simon Eastwood was on hand to claim.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Josh Gordon going close just two minutes later, but his shot was blocked. Moments later, Lavery was able to go a step further, beating Eastwood to find the back of the net, but the goal would not stand thanks to an earlier offside infringement.

Oxford were awarded a free-kick five minutes in, from which they were able to launch a run on goal, with Anthony Forde doing well to beat a few Walsall men before losing the ball. United were soon on the attack again, but Mark Sykes' overhead kick came to nothing as the shot was blocked as it headed goal-wards.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a brighter spell, with Henry firing an effort high over Liam Roberts crossbar in the seventh minute.

The Saddlers were soon able to work the ball back up to the other end, forcing the first corner of the match in the eighth minute. Alfie Bates swung the flag-kick in, but Henry was well placed to half-clear the danger before causing a scramble in the box, which his team-mates were eventually able to deal with.

Oxford went on to win a corner themselves a couple of minutes later, after a good spell of possession culminated in Mat Sadler heading the ball out of play. Forde played the ball in to the back post, but the Walsall defences were able to clear.

Both sides enjoyed plenty of the ball as the game continued, with neither creating any clear-cut chances.

With just nineteen minutes on the clock, Robert Dickie became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as the defender picked up a yellow card for a foul on Rory Gaffney.

Oxford soon had the ball back in the danger zone, with Sykes winning a corner for his team, which was played into the box and cleared by the Saddlers defences, before the move was repeated two minutes later.

With twenty-four minutes on the clock, Walsall won a corner, which Gordon flicked on for Gaffney, who back-heeled goal-wards winning a second corner as the ball came off Josh Ruffels. The resulting flag-kick came to nothing.

Twenty-five minutes in, Callum Cockerill-Mollett became the second name added to the referee's notebook, as a foul on Tariqe Fosu-Henry earned the Walsall man a yellow card.

The visiting side began to enjoy a brighter spell again as the game continued, with both Fosu and Henry seeing efforts stopped by the Saddlers defences.

United almost opened the scoring in the thirty-third minute, as Fosu picked up the ball in the corner of the box and fired a low shot goal-wards, but the Walsall shot-stopper was able to get his palms to the ball and push it behind, and the resulting corner came to nothing.

The game descended into a contest of fouls and free-kicks for a while, with neither side able to gain the upper hand, though Oxford did continue to see more of the ball.

With forty-one minutes on the clock, Liam Kinsella became the third player to see yellow, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Sykes.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as we neared the break, with neither side really able to trouble their opposition defences, until, in the final minute of the opening forty-five, Matty Taylor found the back of the net. Fortunately for the Saddlers, he was adjudged to have been in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.

Fosu went close as we played out two additional minutes, with a right-footed shot from outside the box which sailed narrowly wide of the upright. That would be the last action of the first-half, 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. Just a minute into the second-half, Roberts was forced to make an acrobatic clearance off the line to deny a powerful Ruffels header.

Oxford continued to enjoy the brighter start to the half, with Henry combining with Christopher Cadden, five minutes in, but the latter's effort from a tight angle sailed across the face of goal and out of danger.

Just a minute later, the Saddlers also saw a chance go begging, as a Lavery cross to the back post, found the head of Gordon who was unable to guide his headed effort home.

Walsall continued to see more of the ball as the match continued, and Alfie Bates saw a right-footed effort from outside the box, blocked in the fifty-third minute.

United soon had the ball back at the other end though, where Taylor saw a close range effort saved by Roberts.

With fifty-five minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make a double change to their line-up, with both Alfie Bates and Rory Gaffney departing in favour of Danny Guthrie and Dan Scarr.

The game again became something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides enjoying time on the ball, without creating much going forwards, but sixty-three minutes in, Oxford were able to break through the defensive lines, allowing Fosu a shot on goal, which was turned behind for a corner. Forde swung the ball in from the flag-kick for Fosu, whose mis-kick allowed Cadden a shot on goal, but Cockerill-Mollett was well placed to block the effort.

United went close again moments later, as Henry picked out Sykes in the Walsall area, but the Saddlers defended well and the move only earned the visitors another corner, which Alex Gorrin headed wide.

That would be the last contribution for Mark Sykes, as he was replaced, in the sixty-sixth minute, by Rob Hall.

Hall looked to make an immediate impact, finding space twenty-five yards from goal to get a shot away, but the effort sailed wide of the upright without troubling the man between the sticks.

The visiting side won a corner seventy-two minutes in, as the ball was played behind off Cockerill-Mollett. The flag-kick was played short to Henry whose cross into the box was only half cleared, falling to Fosu who fired wide.

With seventy-five minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Caolan Lavery made way for Elijah Adebayo.

In the seventy-eighth minute, Oxford manager, Karl Robinson found himself being awarded a yellow card for dissent as a throw-in was awarded Walsall's way.

Ten minutes from time, Walsall went close to opening the scoring, as Adebayo broke through the United defences, but Dickie was able to win the ball back before his clearance hit John Mousinho, gifting a corner to the Saddlers.

Before the flag-kick could be taken, there was a brief halt to proceedings as it appeared Oxford shot-stopper, Eastwood would be unable to play any further part, but he was eventually able to continue, and the corner was played in. A foul on Henry ensured that nothing would come of the opportunity though.

With eighty-four minutes played, Oxford finally found the breakthrough, as Taylor and Cadden combined to set up Henry who fired into the bottom corner.

The Saddlers were quick to work the ball back up to the other end as they looked for a quick response, but Adebayo's effort on goal was turned behind by Gorrin, and the resulting corner came to nothing as Taylor headed the cross clear.

With eighty-seven minutes on the clock, Oxford opted to make their second change of the afternoon, with Matty Taylor being replaced by Jamie Mackie.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game, and a minute into them, Robert Hall joined the ranks in the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Scarr.

There was little further action during the closing five minutes, though United did opt to make their third and final change of the day in the ninety-third minute, to eat up a little more time, with Anthony Forde being replaced by Elliott Moore.

That would be the last real action of the afternoon though as Oxford held on to take their place in the Third Round of the FA Cup.

0 - 1

Henry (84')
Attendance: 3,224 (1,375)
Referee: Leigh Doughty
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