Match Report: Exeter City 3 Walsall 3 Match Report: Exeter City 3 Walsall 3
Match Report: Exeter City 3 Walsall 3

Match Report: Exeter City 3 Walsall 3

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Exeter City and Walsall, which took place at the Grecians' St James Park.
Darrell Clarke and the Saddlers arrived in Devon in search of a third win in five league outings and with a view to building upon last weekend's one-all draw with Macclesfield Town.

Welcome wins over Cambridge United and Port Vale, coupled with draws against Stevenage and the Silkmen have allowed the Saddlers to edge away from the relegation zone, something they were keen to continue heading into this weekend's clash.

Walsall got the match underway, but it was Exeter City who started the game the brighter, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position just the second minute as Jack Sparkes was fouled. The hosts went close to opening the scoring from the set-piece, but after a scramble in the box, the ball trickled out of play.

The Saddlers were quick to counter, working the ball up to the other end, before winning the first corner of the game as Randell Williams was forced to turn the ball behind. Nigel Atangana was well placed to clear the danger.

The visiting side went on to win another corner in just the sixth minute. Danny Guthrie swung the ball into the box for Dan Scarr, but the defenders headed effort was punched clear by City shot-stopper, Jonathon Maxted.

Walsall continued to look the more likely to open the scoring, winning another corner in the twelfth minute as Stuart Sinclair tried his luck from range, seeing his goal-bound shot deflected behind by Sparkes.

The flag-kick was swung into the box, where Scarr was waiting to fire an effort goal-wards. The ball deflecting off Pierce Sweeney as it headed into the back of the net to see the Saddlers take the lead.

Just five minutes after the opening goal was scored, the Saddlers doubled their advantage. A slip from Aaron Martin allowing Caolan Lavery space to lift the ball over Maxted.

The home team enjoyed a brighter spell as the game continued, with Archie Collins and Sweeney combining to send an effort high and wide, before Sparkes whipped a lovely cross into the box, with nobody able to get on the end of it.

City continued to press, as they sought a route back into the game, with Sparkes finding Williams at the back post in the twenty-seventh minute, but Randell's headed effort sailed wide of Roberts' upright.

With twenty-eight minutes on the clock, Exeter were forced to make their first change of the afternoon, as Dean Moxey appeared to pick up a knock that would render him unable to continue. Tom Parkes the man to take his place.

Thirty-one minutes in, the Saddlers further extended their lead, as a long throw from Wesley McDonald was headed home from close range by Josh Gordon.

It took Exeter just one minute to respond, with Ryan Bowman pulling a goal back after Parkes initial headed effort cannoned off the post.

Buoyed by their goal, the home side continued to press, winning a corner in the thirty-fourth minute, which came to nothing, before Nicky Law and Lee Martin combined, allowing the latter a shot on goal. The Saddlers defences doing well to clear the danger.

Just four minutes shy of the break, Exeter pulled themselves to within a goal of the Saddlers, as Martin played Bowman through. Ryan making no mistake as he slipped a right-footed effort home to close the gap.

Four additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but neither side were able to further add to their tally, thanks to some stoic defending by Scarr to deny Bowman a hat-trick, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the Saddlers leading by three-goals-to-two.

2 - 3

Walsall opted to make their first change of the game at half-time, with Wesley McDonald sitting out the second-half, in favour of Mat Sadler, before Exeter got the game back underway.

The home side began the half brightly, with Martin seeing an effort, from outside the box, blocked just a minute in.

The Saddlers were quick to create a chance themselves, with Guthrie forcing Maxted to push a curling effort clear in the forty-ninth minute.

A foul on Bowman in the fifty-second minute led to the hosts being awarded a free-kick in a dangerous spot. Williams whipped the set-piece into the box, with the ball missing everyone waiting in the area, before Roberts turned the goal-bound effort behind with a fingertip save. The resulting corner coming to nothing.

After a spell of midfield action, the hosts won another corner in the fifty-eighth minute, as a Sparkes effort was turned behind. The Saddlers defences continued to hold firm to ensure the flag-kick would come to nothing.

The hosts continued to press, with Williams doing well to beat his man before firing well wide. Moments later, it was the turn of Archie Collins, who picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired inches over the crossbar.

The hosts persistence paid off in the sixty-fourth minute; a Lee Martin shot from close range, trickling over the line to level the scores.

With sixty-seven minutes on the clock, Danny Guthrie became the first player to see his name added to the referee's notebook for a late challenge on Collins.

Just a minute later, Josh Gordon joined his team-mate in the referee's notebook, picking up a booking for time wasting.

Seventy-two minutes in, Walsall opted to make their second change of the evening, with Danny Guthrie making way, as Alfie Bates joined the game.

The Saddlers finally began to see more of the ball as the match entered it's final fifteen minutes, with Gordon doing well to win a corner with a shot which rebounded off the Exeter 'keeper before being turned behind by Sweeney. The flag-kick yielded a second corner, which sadly came to nothing.

A minute later, Gordon again won a corner kick for his team. Bates swung the set-piece in, forcing Maxted to turn the ball behind again, for another flag-kick, which came to nothing.

With ten minutes of the match remaining, Walsall opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon. Josh Gordon making way in favour of Rory Gaffney.

Moments later, Aaron Martin became the first City player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he picked up a booking for a late challenge on Lavery.

Three minutes later, Exeter opted to make their final two changes of the afternoon, as Archie Collins and Lee Martin made way for Jake Taylor and Ben Seymour.

Liam Kinsella went close to restoring the Saddlers earlier lead, four minutes from time, as he cut inside and aimed an effort at the far corner, but the shot sailed narrowly wide of Maxted's upright.

Moments later, at the other end, Bowman connected with a Williams cross as he looked to put his side ahead for the first time in the game, but the Saddlers shot-stopper was on hand to pull off a superb save to deny him.

The Saddlers soon had the ball back at the other end, with Gaffney forcing a fine save from Gaffney, before Bates fired inches over the bar.

Four minutes were added to end the game, but aside from a late Lavery effort sailing high and wide, and Williams heading wide a the death, there were no further chances, and the match was brought to a conclusion with the sides sharing the spoils. A disappointing afternoon for the Saddlers, who looked to have three points secured after half an hour, before letting their hosts back in.

3 - 3
Bowman (32')
Bowman (41')
L.Martin (64')
Sweeney OG (13')
Lavery (18')
Gordon (31')
Attendance: 4,323 (226)
Referee: David Rock
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