Match Report: Walsall 2 Cambridge United 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Cambridge United.
Walsall's last two outings resulted in a draw and a win ,however, as both were cup outings the results have done little to ease the pressure as they arrive at this weekend's clash with a run of six league defeats behind them.

Following on from Tuesday's six-goal triumph over Forest Green Rovers manager Darrell Clarke had many options at his disposal with several of his players putting in strong performances in a bid to earn a starting role.

This afternoon's match would give the gaffer an opportunity to see just how his team would be able to build upon a win after suffering such a string of poor results.

Cambridge United got the match underway, but Walsall were the quicker off the mark, opening the scoring within the opening sixty seconds. After some work from Caolan Lavery, Shay Facey was able to play a low into the box, where Josh Gordon was waiting to bundle the ball over the line.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy a good spell, winning a corner five minutes in, as George Taft was forced to turn the ball behind, but a foul on Greg Taylor ensured Alfie Bates' flag-kick could not be turned home.

Another corner followed two minutes later as Elliott Ward deflected a cross behind, but Bates' cross in sailed beyond his waiting team-mates and out for a throw-in.

Just ten minutes in, Walsall doubled their lead, as a wonderfully placed corner kick from Bates, found the head of Mat Sadler who turned the ball past Dimitar Mitov in the Cambridge goal from close range.

Walsall's superb start continued a pace, as the side won another corner just seconds later as Taft was again forced to turn the ball behind. Bates again swung the ball into the box, but the hosts were unable to further extend their lead.

Cambridge began to see more of the ball as the game continued, though they were unable to test the Saddlers defences, and they almost paid the price for their lack of attacking prowess in the nineteenth minute as Walsall went close to scoring a third. Some excellent play from Gordon and Facey set up Lavery whose half volley was well saved by the Cambridge 'keeper.

Two minutes later, Mitov was again called into action, as a delightful cross from Lavery found Wesley McDonald in good position, but the wingers low effort was ultimately an easy save for the man between the sticks.

Cambridge won their first corner of the game, twenty-two minutes in, as Liam Kinsella turned a Paul Lewis cross behind, but the visitors were unable to make use of the flag-kick as the Saddlers defences stood firm.

United continued to grow into the game, creating their best chance to pull a goal back in the twenty-seventh minute, as Lewis played a cross onto the head of Harvey Knibbs who was waiting in the centre of the box to head home, but Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts was well placed to gather.

With thirty-one minutes on the clock, the visitors were unlucky not to find themselves within a goal of the Saddlers, as a headed effort from Sam Smith clipped the post, before Facey turned the rebound behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

The visiting side soon worked the ball forwards again, but an offside flag ensured Greg Taylor was unable to convert a Daniel Jones cross, though in any event, the United skipper's headed effort sailed over the bar without troubling Roberts in the Walsall goal.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the thirty-eighth minute, allowing Callum Cockerill-Mollett to receive treatment following a knock to the head, but the full-back was soon patched up and able to continue.

After struggling for forward momentum, the Saddlers almost secured a third goal three minutes before the break, as a superb run from Gordon saw the hosts work the ball into the United box, before Bates saw a low shot trickle inches wide of the far post.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to create anything further, and the Saddlers trotted off for their half-time refreshments, two goals to the good.

2 - 0

Cambridge opted to make a change ahead of the second-half, with Paul Lewis the man not to return as Jack Roles took his place, before Walsall got the match action back underway.

The visiting side began the half brightly, with Liam O'Neill finding himself in shooting range just seconds in, but his effort was poor, sailing wide of the upright without troubling Roberts. They continued to press, and Roles fired an effort goal-wards just three minutes after his introduction but the Walsall 'keeper was well placed and pulled off a fine save to tip the ball around his post, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

The Saddlers were finally able to work the ball out of the danger zone and up to the other end, five minutes into the half, calling Mitov into action to deny Gordon after some good link-up play with Lavery.

Cambridge soon had the ball back at the other end though, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, which was almost headed home by Knibbs.

The frenetic pace slowed a little as the game continued, but ten minutes into the half, Smith saw a headed effort from the centre of the box saved after latching onto a well placed cross from Jones.

With fifty-nine minutes on the clock, United were forced to make a second change to their line-up, as Leon Davies departed due to injury, being replaced by Harrison Dunk.

Two minutes after the change, the Saddlers went close to adding a third to their tally, as Kinsella played in Lavery who looked certain to score had he not delayed his shot, allowing Ward in to make the tackle.

The hosts continued to enjoy a brighter spell, with Lavery looking to increase his sides lead in the sixty-second minute, with a curling effort, but Mitov remained alert in the United goal and made the save.

In the sixty-fourth minute, second-half substitute, Jack Roles became the first player to see his name added to the referee's notebook, seeing yellow after pulling McDonald back, as the winger looked to break.

Walsall soon had the ball back in shooting range, but Kinsella's sixty-fifth minute effort from outside the box was turned behind for a corner which came to nothing.

Back at the other end, two minutes later, George Maris attempted to head the ball home as he met a Dunk cross, but the Saddlers defences were untested as the ball sailed high and wide. The visitors continued to press, forcing a mistake from Roberts who spilled the ball, allowing Taylor a shot, which he thankfully fired off target.

It wasn't long before the Saddlers had the ball back in striking range at the other end, but after cutting inside, McDonald's powerful shot was tipped over the bar by Mitov. A crucial save for Cambridge, with the ball looking to be heading straight into the top corner. The resulting corner came to nothing.

The game quietened a little as we headed towards the final ten minutes, but in the seventy-ninth minute, Roles attempted a thirty-five yard effort, which sailed high and wide of Roberts goal.

With eighty-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Caolan Lavery making way for Rory Gaffney.

Moments after the change, United went close to pulling a goal back after winning a free-kick in dangerous position, but Taft was unable to turn the ball home and Walsall got the ball away.

Rory Holden joined Roles in the referee's notebook in the eighty-fourth minute, seeing yellow for a foul on Dunk.

The Saddlers then opted to make a second change to their line-up in the eighty-eighth minute, as goal-scorer, Josh Gordon was replaced by Elijah Adebayo.

Moments later, the visiting side chose to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as George Taft made way for Jordan Norville-Williams.

Four minutes were added to end the game, and after pressing for a goal back through the afternoon, Knibbs finally found a breakthrough two minutes into them, as he fired home from close range to bring his side to within one goal of their hosts.

Cambridge continued to press, buoyed by their late goal, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to deny them a late second ensuring all three points would remain in the West Midlands. A well deserved and much needed win for the Saddlers, who defended stoically after securing two early goals to put them ahead.

2 - 1
Gordon (1')
Sadler (10')
Knibbs (90+2')

Attendance: 5,429 (545)
Referee: Paul Marsden
Join us across social media, we're @BescotBanter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also find the very latest Saddlers news and updates on Google News.
Previous Post Next Post