Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

EFL Trophy: Walsall 1 Portsmouth 2

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's EFL Trophy clash between Walsall and Portsmouth.
The Saddlers reached the last sixteen of this season's EFL Trophy following a narrow victory over Chelsea Under-21s and will be looking to build upon recent league victories as they seek to build momentum.

Walsall XI: L.Roberts; Norman, Clarke, Scarr, Jules, Pring; Holden, Kinsella, S.Perry; Adebayo, Gaffney

Substitutes: Rose; Foulkes, K.Roberts; Bates, Willis, McDonald; Lavery
Portsmouth XI: MacGillivray; Harness, Downing, Burgess, Mnoga, Hackett-Fairchild, Raggett, Evans, Close, Hawkins, Marquis

Substitutes: Bass, Naylor, Bolton, Cannon, Harrison, Casey Seddon

The referee for the evening was confirmed as Anthony Backhouse, who is based in Cumbria. Mr Backhouse was assisted by Paul Graham and Richard Morris, with James Bell being named a Fourth Official.

With the number of injuries ever-increasing, Walsall manager Darrell Clarke made a few changes to his team, allowing a few of the club's younger prospects to join both the substitutes and starting line-up.

Young defender Joe Foulkes joined Joe Willis on the bench whilst 18-year-old midfielder Sam Perry was named in the starting XI, making his first-team debut following a string of superb displays for Miguel Llera's Under-18s.

With plenty more fixtures still to come, strikers Elijah Adebayo and Rory Gaffney returned to the starting XI with Caolan Lavery dropping to the bench and Josh Gordon missing out altogether.

Walsall's Rory Holden got the game underway and, after a spell of play which saw neither side create anything of note, the match settled into a rhythm.

Former Saddler Crag MacGillivray was called into action after around eight minutes of play as, following Cameron Pring's poor cross, possession was regained and Cameron Norman found Elijah Adebayo in space, but his dipping header was easily gathered.

Liam Roberts' first save of note arrived around six minutes later as John Marquis, aided by a poor clearance from the Saddlers stopper, was able to get a shot away. Liam pushing the ball away for an ultimately cleared corner.

Walsall were soon back in attack and saw another Adebayo header go to waste as the Pring-assisted effort was far too weak and easily cleared by Pompey.

The Saddlers continued their push for the game's opening goal and went close soon after as Holden whipped in a superb cross which somehow evaded everybody, including Norman who arrived late at the back post.

Portsmouth weren't about to let the Saddlers create all the attacking play and were soon testing the concentration of Liam Roberts as Marquis produced a powerful low effort which Liam was equal to.

Sadly for the Saddlers they were ultimately unable to prevent their visitors from taking the lead as the ever-dangerous Marquis tapped the ball home following Christian Burgess' downward-header from a corner.

Elijah Adebayo was soon back in the hunt for his and Walsall's opening goal as he was on the receiving end of a well-balanced long ball. The former Fulham man controlled well and looked to have lifted the ball over the 'keeper before MacGillivray was eventually able to gather.

With around thirty-minutes on the clock Portsmouth went in search of their second goal as Oli Hawkins got on the end of a Gareth Evans cross. Thankfully for the Saddlers the former Dagenham and Redbridge striker was unable to hit the target as his effort on the turn lifted over the bar.

On-loan Salford City man Rory Gaffney continued his disappointing spell in front of goal as he was only able to scuff an effort wide of goal after defender Burgess had been able to get something on the ball.

With the half edging ever-closer to its conclusion the visitors began to take control, forcing the Saddlers to remain patient and await an opening. However, Liam Roberts was kept busy by Hawkins, the experienced attacker sending a header towards goal.

The Saddlers were gifted with a superb opportunity to level the scores moments before the break as Gaffney was felled inside the area. Elijah Adebayo was the man to take the spot kick but was unable to level the scores as MacGillivray produced a fine save to deny his former side.

Walsall continued their search for a goal of their own and kept the Pompey backline busy for the remainder of stoppage time with a few blocked crosses before referee Anthony Backhouse decided it was time for refreshments.

WALSALL
0 - 1
POMPEY

Neither manager opted to make a change at the break as the two teams returned and the second-half got underway with the visitors doing the honours.

The half got underway to a scrappy start with both teams looking to gain a territorial advantage.

The first real action of the half saw Pompey defender Haji Mnoga doing well to dispossess the attacking Pring before getting forward himself and almost finding Reeco Hackett-Fairchild in space. The pass being intercepted and ultimately cleared.

Young Walsall midfielder Sam Parry, who was making his first-team debut, was also keen to get the ball forward and did well to create space before finding an advanced Holden, who saw an effort drift past the post.

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke was the first to call upon his substitutes as he opted to make a double change ten minutes into the second forty-five. Dan Scarr and Rory Gaffney made way for Wes McDonald and Caolan Lavery.

Both Walsall and Portsmouth then saw efforts go just wide of goal as Burgess crashed wide for Pompey and at the other end Lavery, who had linked up with fellow sub McDonald, watched a bouncing effort evade MacGillivray's goal. Walsall's was probably the stronger of the two opportunities but both resulted in goal kicks.

Pompey manager Kenny Jackett then made a double change for his side with Reeco Hackett-Fairchild and Haji Mnoga making way for Tom Naylor and Steve Seddon.

The visitors were soon back on the attack and saw sub Seddon involved as he combined with Hawkins to call Roberts into action. The Saddlers stopper was equal to the shot and gathered the ball.

That would be Hawkins' final contribution to the match as he was soon replaced by Ellis Harrison as Jackett opted for some fresh legs in attack.

Walsall were struggling to make anything of their time on the ball but the same couldn't be said for their opponents who forced a corner Tom Naylor and Marquis combined to force Roberts into a save with Evans' rebound going out for a flag-kick.

Thankfully for the Saddlers the corner didn't result in a second goal but did see Burgess go close again as his header cleared Roberts' crossbar. A good chance for the visitors.

Walsall went on to make their third and final change as Elijah Adebayo made way from Joe Willis who was making his first-team debut.

The Saddlers then went close to levelling the scores as substitute Lavery was unable to make a good enough connection and saw an effort go high and wide. A good opportunity for Caolan to add to his tally.

Portsmouth continued to be alert at the back and managed to cut out a McDonald cross just as the winger, who has put pen-to-paper on a new 18-month contract, was about to pick out a teammate.

Following a stoppage in play which saw defender Zak Jules receive treatment, Liam Roberts was again on hand to deny the visitors as Marquis saw an effort saved. Marquis found in far too much space by a superb pass. Seddon also looked to get in on the rebound but he too was thwarted.

Sadly the Saddlers wouldn't be able to keep the score at one-nil as substitute Ellis Harrison got on the end of a dangerous cross to dispatch a header into the back of the net. Heartbreak for the Saddlers.

Walsall's night wasn't completely over as they were sensationally awarded another penalty! Caolan Lavery was the man to step up and subsequently slotted the ball past MacGillivray to secure his ninth goal of the season.

Undaunted, Pompey continued to push for goals and saw a Marquis effort fizz past the post. The high-scoring attacker keen to get among the goals.

After five minutes of added on time it was the visitors who would reach the next round of the much-maligned competition as they advanced by two-goals-to-one.
.
WALSALL
1  -  2
POMPEY
Lavery (P - 86')

Marquis (23')
Harrison (82')
ATT: 1,082
REF: Anthony Backhouse

Don't forget, you can join us across social media, we're @BescotBanter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.