Match Report: Port Vale 0 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Port Vale and Walsall.
The Saddlers arrived at Vale Park on the back of a midweek EFL Trophy triumph over Chelsea Under-21s and in search of a second win in three league games as they continued to battle for points in a bid to move away from the relegation zone.

Port Vale got the afternoon's action started, but it was Walsall who enjoyed the brighter start, with Wesley McDonald winning a corner for the visiting side just a minute in. Sadly the men in red were unable to get anything on the in-swinging ball and failed to turn it home. A positive start though.

McDonald continued to cause problems for the home side in the early goings, as he used his pace to beat the Vale defences before curling a fourth minute effort wide, with the help of a deflection. The hosts were able to break from the resulting corner, winning a flag-kick of their own at the other end moments later.

Walsall made easy work of clearing the Vale corner kick, and McDonald again lead the team forward, with the side winning a free-kick close to the corner flag in the sixth minute. The home side were able to ensure nothing would come of it and the two teams then began to engage in a midfield battle.

With thirteen minutes on the clock, the hosts won a corner as Walsall captain, James Clarke was forced to put the ball out of play. Tom Conlon whipped the ball into the danger area from the flag-kick, but the Saddlers defences remained alert and cleared. Conlon soon had the back though and played it back into the box, but the linesman spotted an offside infringement and the visitors came away with the ball.

The home side continued to enjoy the brighter spell as the match continued, with Tom Pope crossing the ball into the area, fifteen minutes in. Fortunately for the Saddlers, his cross-come-shot hit the side-netting.

Walsall soon had the ball back up at the other end, where Liam Kinsella looked to be well placed as a Josh Gordon cross sailed into the box, but Callum Evans was first to the ball and ensured no attempt on goal could be made.

The game again began to settle into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball, whilst struggling to break down their oppositions defences.

As we reached the half hour mark, Port Vale created their first real chance of the afternoon, as Evans delivered a well-weighted ball into the box, but Jake Taylor turned his header wide.

There was a brief halt to proceedings following the effort, allowing Josh Gordon to receive treatment for a head injury. Fortunately the striker was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Evans was soon on the attack again, but his thirty-ninth minute, right-footed shot from range sailed wide of Liam Roberts upright without troubling the 'keeper.

Vale went close to taking the lead in the final minute of the opening forty-five, but the shot from Amoo took a deflection off one of his teammates and sailed wide.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to make use of them, and the teams headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied.

0 - 0

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Walsall got the action back underway and within a minute, the Saddlers had taken the lead thanks to some great work from McDonald who set Adebayo up with a simple tap in at the back post. A superb start to the half for the visiting side.

Port Vale won a corner in the forty-eighth minute as they set about looking to get back on level terms, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to ensure no goal would come from the flag-kick.

With fifty-two minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Danny Guthrie making way for Rory Holden. Vale also chose to make a change to their line-up, as Callum Evans departed in favour of Mark Cullen.

As we reached the hour mark, Vale went close to finding an equaliser after a winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, but Leon Legge was unable to guide his headed effort inside of the upright.

The home side continued to press as they looked to draw level with the Saddlers, but a low sixty-first minute effort from Conlon sailed wide of Roberts post without troubling the man between the sticks.

The hosts went on to win a corner moments later, which Conlon played towards the back post, where Smith was waiting, but the defenders headed effort sailed narrowly over the bar.

With sixty-six minutes on the clock, Josh Gordon became the first player to find his name being entered into the referee's notebook as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Smith.

Walsall opted to make a second change to their line-up in the sixty-seventh minute, as goalscorer, Elijah Adebayo made way for Caolan Lavery.

The Saddlers won a corner in the sixty-ninth minute as a shot from Liam Kinsella was blocked behind. The ball in from the flag-kick was good, but Holden was caught offside and Vale came away with the ball.

After a quiet spell of play, the hosts opted to make a second substitution in the seventy-seventh minute. Will Atkinson the man to make way as Ritchie Bennett took to the field.

Vale won a corner two minutes after the change, from which Conlon and Legge almost combined to set up Pope who was waiting at the back post, but the Saddlers defences ensured the striker would not get a touch on it.

With eighty-two minutes on the clock, Vale's task was made harder as Tom Conlon received his marching orders following a challenge on Gordon.

Three minutes later, Josh Gordon's afternoon also came to end, as the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the day, replacing the striker with Rory Gaffney for the run-in.

After another quiet spell, Cullen went close as we played out the final of the regulation ninety minutes, his shot from outside the box sailing narrowly over Roberts crossbar.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game. Moments before the full-time whistle sounded, Lavery went close with a left-footed effort which was blocked for a corner, which came to nothing. That would be the last action of the day, as Walsall ran out winners by one-goal-to-nil.

0 - 1

Adebayo (46')
Attendance: 5,079 (655)
Referee: Andy Haines
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