Match Report: Walsall 1 Carlisle United 2 Match Report: Walsall 1 Carlisle United 2
Match Report: Walsall 1 Carlisle United 2

Match Report: Walsall 1 Carlisle United 2

Here is our Match Report from Sunday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Carlisle United.
Arriving at the match on the back of a Boxing Day win over Scunthorpe United, Darrell Clarke's Saddlers went in search if more festive points as they welcomed Carlisle United to Banks's Stadium.

Carlisle United got the action underway, and the visiting side saw a lot of the ball in the early goings, without unduly troubling the Walsall defences, though just seven minutes in, Josh Gordon required treatment to a head injury following a collision with Aaron Hayden. Thankfully, he was soon back on the pitch and able to continue.

The visitors created the first half-chance of the afternoon as Gordon returned, with Stefan Scougall and Harry McKirdy combining before a slight deflection allowed Walsall 'keeper, Liam Roberts to make an easy save.

Walsall soon had the ball up at the other end, where Shay Facey and Caolan Lavery worked together to set up Gordon, but Hayden was on hand to clear for the Cumbrians.

Carlisle were quick to work the ball back to the other end, but McKirdy was unable to turn Jack Iredale's cross home, firing high and wide. The end-to-end action continued, with Wesley McDonald putting on a fine display to work the ball back into the United half, before Gordon it.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy a bright spell, with McDonald and Rory Holden combining in the sixteenth minute to create a chance for Caolan Lavery, who saw his effort on goal saved by Carlisle shot-stopper, Adam Collin, at point blank range. The striker looked to pounce on the rebound, with an open goal ahead of him, but the visiting defences managed to get a body in the way to divert the shot behind for a corner, which was cleared by Gethin Jones.

The Cumbrians saw more of the ball as the match continued, though the Saddlers continued to look the more likely to open the scoring. A twenty-first minute cross foray into the Carlisle box from Holden almost allowing Lavery in on goal, but Iredale was well placed to deny the striker a shot.

The Saddlers should probably have opened the scoring in the twenty-sixth minute, as a corner kick was swung into the box, causing a scramble which ultimately saw McDonald fire over from close range.

Walsall won another corner just two minutes later, as a Danny Guthrie cross was turned onto a Carlisle body by Gordon. The visitors made light work of clearing the flag-kick, but the home side continued to press, with Lavery going close just a minute later with an effort which was deflected into the hands of Collin.

As we reached the half hour mark, Carlisle were given a reprieve from the Walsall pressure, as they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position following a foul on Hallam Hope. Mohamed Sagaf fired the set-piece goal-wards, but Roberts was alert and gathered.

The visiting side went on to see another opportunity missed just three minutes later, as Thomas picked out Hope on the edge of the box, but the strikers shot hit Scougall on it's way through to goal, and deflected wide.

Carlisle continued to enjoy a brighter spell, seeing plenty of the ball, before Byron Webster headed an Iredale cross over the bar in the thirty-sixth minute.

Two minutes later, the Saddlers were presented with another opportunity to open the scoring, winning a corner which was swung into the back post by Guthrie. Lavery was on hand to meet the cross, but the strikers headed effort sailed narrowly over the crossbar.

Walsall continued to press as they looked to create an advantage to take into the break, but Gordon's forty-first minute effort would not provide the breakthrough, as his shot was blocked.

One additional minute was added to end the half, and after that was played out, with the scores still tied, the sides headed off for their final half-time talking to of the decade.

0 - 0

Carlisle opted to make a change following the break, with Stefan Scougall sitting out the second-half. Ryan Loft the man to take his place as Walsall got the action back underway. Within just two minutes of the re-start, the Saddlers had won a corner, as Hayden was forced to turn the ball behind, but a foul in the box as they ball was played in gifted the visiting side a free-kick, ensuring nothing would come of the early opportunity.

With forty-eight minutes on the clock, Hayden became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Gordon. The guilty man was on hand to spare his sides blushes moments later, heading clear as the ball was whipped into the box from the free-kick.

Fifty-two minutes in, and somewhat against the run of play, Thomas put Carlisle ahead, securing his sides first goal in four outings as he drove into the box and unleashed a shot which Roberts parried, allowing the United man a second chance to bury it in the bottom corner.

Buoyed by his goal, Thomas broke again just two minutes later, but this time was unable to beat an alert Roberts.

The Saddlers soon had the ball back up at the other end, where they won successive corners, which the visiting defences were able to deal with. The hosts continued to press, culminating in McDonald firing high and wide in the fifty-seventh minute.

With sixty-one minutes played, Thomas looked to be in again, as Loft played the ball out to him on the right, before he cut inside and fired an effort in, which fortunately for the Saddlers, sailed over the bar.

In the sixty-fifth minute, Walsall opted to make their first, and second, change of the afternoon. Caolan Lavery and Rory Holden both making way as their places were filled by Elijah Adebayo and James Hardy.

Just moments after his introduction, Adebayo won a free-kick for his side in a dangerous position, from which they went on to win a corner. The flag-kick was swung into the box, causing a scramble as it headed to the back post for Gordon, who played the ball back for captain, James Clarke whose headed effort was cleared by the Carlisle defences.

Seventy minutes in, the Saddlers drew level, as McDonald picked up the ball, cut inside and fired an effort onto the bar, allowing a well placed Adebayo to tap home the rebound.

The Saddlers continued to look dangerous, winning a free-kick close to the box just two minutes later, but Michael Jones was on hand to clear the danger for the visiting side.

There was a brief halt to proceedings, fifteen minutes from time, allowing Adebayo to receive treatment for a knock, but the striker was soon up and able to continue.

Walsall were reduced to ten men for the final thirteen minutes as James Clarke received his marching orders after he pulled McKirdy back when adjudged to be the last man.

Moments after the dismissal, Walsall made their third and final change, as goal-scorer, Elijah Adebayo appeared unable to shake off the earlier knock and was replaced by Zak Jules.

United looked to make their man advantage pay, with Thomas winning a corner for his side from the free-kick, but Roberts remained alert and gathered the flag-kick at the second time of asking.

With eighty-four minutes played, Callum Cockerill-Mollett became only the second player to see yellow, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Thomas. The resulting free-kick seeing Hayden knock the ball over at the back post.

Thomas continued to cause problems for the Walsall defences as the game continued, and was a little unfortunate to see an eighty-seventh minute strike hit Hope and deflect behind for a goal-kick.

Walsall finally found a way forwards a minute from time, but they were unable to make use of the opportunity.

Five minutes were added to end the game, as a Gordon effort sailed well off-target. The visiting side won a corner three minutes into the five, from which they won a throw in, which was played on to an alert McKirdy who nodded over Roberts to put restore his sides earlier lead with just one minute still to play.

With just seconds remaining, Carlisle opted to make a change to their line-up, replacing Nathan Thomas with Olufela Olomola.

That would be the last real action of the game, and indeed the decade, as a disappointing afternoon was brought to a close. A poor result for the Saddlers who had looked to be heading into 2020 as one of the form sides.

1 - 2
Adebayo (70')

Thomas (52')
McKirdy (90+4')
Attendance: 4,794
Referee: BenToner
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