Match Report: Walsall 0 Stevenage 0

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Stevenage.
Darrell Clarke's Saddlers arrived at the match on the back of a midweek Emirates FA Cup - First Round Replay victory over National League North side Darlington and in search of a third win in just over a week.

The Saddlers defeated Cambridge United at the Banks's last weekend and went into the match in search of another much-needed win in order to avoid a slip closer to the foot of the table.

Josh Gordon got the action underway, and the striker went on to win a free-kick for his side, in a dangerous position just a minute in. Rory Holden swung the set-piece in, but his side were unable to take an early advantage from it.

Both sides took a little time to settle into the game, seeing plenty of the ball whilst struggling to breakthrough their opposition lines, but in the fourth minute, Stevenage did win a free-kick in shooting range, which Charlie Carter played in for Craig Mackail-Smith who was unable to get a shot away.

Stevenage looked the more likely to open the scoring as the match continued, and were unlucky not to have a chance on goal seven minutes in after a lovely move from Luther James-Wildin culminated in Charlie Lakin being caught offside.

The visitors continued to press, and almost opened the scoring just thirteen minutes in, as a Jason Cowley header tickled the side netting. Moments later, Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts was called into action for the first time in the game, as he was tasked with saving a Carter shot from the right.

The Saddlers were finally able to work the ball up to the other end in the twenty-first minute thanks to some good work from Gordon and Caolan Lavery to set up Wesley McDonald who saw an initial effort on goal blocked, before Liam Kinsella's follow-up shot was also blocked.

There was a brief halt in proceedings in the twenty-fifth minute, whilst Ben Nugent received treatment for a knock. It was determined that the defender would be unable to continue forcing Stevenage into an early substitution. Paul Digby the man to take his place.

The visiting side were quick to get going again following the change, with Lakin going close with a headed effort in the twenty-ninth minute.

There was another halt to proceedings in the thirty-third minute, allowing Walsall captain, James Clarke and Jason Cowley to receive treatment following a clash of heads, as the former looked to prevent the latter connecting with a Chris Stokes cross. Fortunately, after a little attention, both were able to continue.

The Saddlers won a corner in the seventy-seventh minute, as Lakin was forced to turn the ball behind. The ball was swung in by Holden, who found Dan Scarr at the near post, but the defender was unable to direct his headed effort goal-wards.

With forty-two minutes on the clock, Jason Cowley became the first player to find himself walking the tightrope, on a yellow card, picking up a booking for a late tackle on Callum Cockerill-Mollett.

Cockerill-Mollett got his own back for the late tackle moments later, blocking a Cowley effort inside the box as we entered five minutes of stoppage time.

Neither side was able to make use of the extra time, and the sides headed down the tunnel with the scores still tied.

0 - 0

Walsall opted to make a double change ahead of the second-half, with Danny Guthrie and James Hardy joining the fray, in place of Liam Kinsella and Wes McDonald, as Stevenage got the game back underway.

The visiting side began the second-half brightly, but Elliott List was unable to convert a forty-seventh minute effort, as a Saddlers defender was well placed to block.

List tried his luck two minutes later, from outside the area, but his half-volley sailed well over Roberts crossbar, without troubling the 'keeper.

The Saddlers finally began to grow back into the game as time marched on, and were unlucky not to open the scoring in the fifty-second minute, as a lovely turn from Lavery allowed the striker to roll the ball across the six yard box, but Holden, who was waiting inside the area, was just unable to get to it to turn it home.

With fifty-seven minutes on the clock, Stevenage opted to make their second change of the afternoon, as Luther James-Wildin made way for Luis Fernandez.

Fernandez looked to make an immediate impact, drilling the ball across goal to Cowley, who saw his effort on goal blocked.

The Saddlers soon had the ball back at the other end, where Stevenage 'keeper, Paul Farman was given his first real test of the day. The shot-stopper doing well to deny Holden in the top corner after some good work from Gordon. The resulting corner came to nothing.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, Dan Scarr became the second player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he saw yellow for a foul on Carter.

Walsall continued to look the brighter side as the game continued, with Holden drawing another save from Farman in the sixty-ninth minute, from inside the six yard box.

The Stevenage shot-stopper almost created a goal for his own side moments later, as he played a long ball to Fernandez who in turn picked out Carter whose effort on goal was blocked by the Saddlers defences.

The Saddlers were soon troubling the Stevenage goalie again, as a lovely cross was directed onto the head of Gordon in the seventy-second minute, but Terence Vancooten did just enough to ensure the headed effort was directed over the bar.

With just quarter of an hour remaining, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Rory Holden made way for Elijah Adebayo.

Adebayo looked to have an immediate impact on the game, with a well taken, seventy-eighth minute, effort on goal, but Vancooten was able to get himself in the way to block the shot.

Back at the other end, moments later, Carter collected the ball close to the penalty spot and fired a shot in on goal, but Cockerill-Mollett was well placed to block the effort. Lakin played the ball in from the resulting corner, but the Saddlers defences were eventually able to clear the danger.

Six minutes from time, Stevenage opted to make their third and final change of the game, with Elliott List departing in favour of Emmanuel Sonupe.

The visiting side then saw a game of pinball break out in the Walsall box, with the Saddlers coming off best as they somehow cleared the danger.

Walsall were quick to work the ball back to the other end, where Farman was on hand to deny Gordon.

Four additional minutes were added to end the match, and two minutes into them, Luis Fernandez became the third player to enter the referee's notebook as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Guthrie. The resulting free-kick was curled goal-wards by the fouled man, but he could only find the woodwork with his effort.

That would be the last action of the game, as the referee called a halt to the match, with the scores tied as they had been at the start of the afternoon. A less than thrilling contest, but another point for both sides to add to their slowly growing tallies.

0 - 0

Attendance: 4,938 (201)
Referee: Lee Swabey
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