Match Report: Scunthorpe United 0 Walsall 2 Match Report: Scunthorpe United 0 Walsall 2
Match Report: Scunthorpe United 0 Walsall 2

Match Report: Scunthorpe United 0 Walsall 2

Here is our Match Report from Boxing Day afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Scunthorpe United and Walsall.
Arriving at the match on the back of last weekend's three-all draw with title-chasing Exeter City, the Saddlers were in search of a welcome win as they hope to edge further from the relegation zone.

Manager Darrell Clarke had guided his side through a well-deserved spell of form and was looking to continue that run as they arrived at the Iron's Glanford Park on a gloomy Boxing Day afternoon.

Walsall got the match underway, and both sides saw plenty of the ball in the early goings as they settled into the game. After a quiet opening ten minutes, Scunthorpe United saw the first chance of the game go begging, as Kevin Van Veen picked out Alex Gilliead out on the right, who played in for Lee Novak but the latter's eighteen yard effort sailed well over the crossbar, without troubling Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts.

The home side went on to win a corner two minutes later, which Van Veen swung in to the near post, but the Saddlers defences were first to the ball and cleared the danger.

Scunthorpe continued to see plenty of the ball as the game continued, but following another Iron corner, which was comfortably saved by Roberts, in the sixteenth minute, the Saddlers finally created their first opening of the encounter as Wesley McDonald cut inside before firing a right-footed effort in from range, which Scunthorpe 'keeper, Rory Watson made light work of saving.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy an improved spell, with captain, James Clarke and Caolan Lavery combining to set up McDonald in the twenty-first minute, but the hosts defences stood firm to ensure there would be no shot on goal.

Scunthorpe soon had the ball back at the other end, winning successive corners, which were easily dealt with by the Walsall defences.

Twenty-six minutes in, the Saddlers won a corner themselves, which was swung into the box by Alfie Bates, finding an unmarked Lavery six yards from goal, but the strikers headed effort was aimed straight at the waiting Scunthorpe 'keeper.

Roberts was called into action moments later, with rather more work to do than his counterpart, but the Walsall shot-stopper was equal to Van Veen's curling free-kick, turning the ball around the post. Both the resulting corner, and another won a minute later by Gilliead, came to nothing.

The Saddlers looked likely to open the scoring in the thirty-first minute, as some superb work from Rory Gaffney put Lavery through on goal, but Watson remained alert to the danger and pulled off a brilliant save to keep the scores tied.

The end-to-end action continued, with Abobaker Eisa going close moments later, with a right-footed effort which was saved by Roberts, before Gilliead fired wide.

The home team were gifted another chance a minute later, as Van Veen won a free-kick for his side. Levi Sutton was the man to turn the ball goal-wards, but Roberts was alert and got down well to deny him.

Walsall won a corner in the thirty-seventh minute, as a McDonald effort from outside the box was deflected wide, but the Iron stood firm to ensure nothing would come of the set-piece.

After a spell of midfield action, James Perch drew another save from Roberts as he fired an effort goal-wards, five minutes before the break.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, Walsall were the team to find the breakthrough, as McDonald beat his man inside the box before firing an effort into the top corner.

One minute was added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to create anything further, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments, with McDonald's goal the difference.

0 - 1

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Scunthorpe got the action back underway. The hosts saw a lot of the ball as the two sides settled back into the game, but they were unable to cause any real problems for their visitors.

With fifty-three minutes played, Brown and Novak combined to win a corner for their side, but the Saddlers defences ensured nothing would come of the opportunity.

Walsall's defences continued to frustrate the Irons, ensuring a fifty-fourth minute, Van Veen free-kick would come to nothing, before Roberts tipped a long-range effort from Levi Sutton onto the crossbar, allowing his team-mates to recover and clear.

The home side continued to press, going close again in the sixty-second minute, as Eisa drove into the box before firing a low cross across the box, but nobody was able to get a touch on it and the ball trickled out of play for a goal-kick.

Moments later, Novak set up Sutton, who fired narrowly wide from twenty-five yards out, winning a corner for their side, which the Saddlers cleared. Another corner followed seconds later, with Van Veen's in-swinger evading Roberts, allowing Brown in at the back post, but his powerful shot sailed over the crossbar, when he really should have levelled the scores.

With seventy-two minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Wesley McDonald made way for Danny Guthrie.

The home side followed suit five minutes later, with Junior Brown making way for Jamie Proctor.

Moments after the change, Van Veen curled a free-kick inches wide of Roberts' upright.

Liam Kinsella became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook in the seventy-eighth minute, as he saw yellow for time wasting.

Ten minutes from time, the Saddlers opted to make a second substitution, with Rory Gaffney departing early in favour of Josh Gordon.

The home responded to the change again, making a second themselves just three minutes later. Levi Sutton the man to make way as Jamie Ward joined the fray.

With eighty-four minutes on the clock, Alfie Bates all but put the game to bed, as he got on the end of a low cross from Cameron Pring and turned the ball into the back of the net to double his sides advantage.

Eighty-seven minutes into the contest, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon; Caolan Lavery being replaced by Elijah Adebayo as the side looked to run down the clock.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, but neither side was able to make use of them, and the match was brought to a conclusion with the Saddlers two goal lead still intact. Three good points on the road for the Saddlers as we enter the second half of the season.

0 - 2

McDonald (43')
Bates (84')
Attendance: 3,842
Referee: Carl Boyeson
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