01/01/2020

Match Report: Walsall 1 Leyton Orient 0

Here is our Match Report from the New Year's Day Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Leyton Orient.
Wednesday afternoon's clash with the O's gave Darrell Clarke's Saddlers an immediate opportunity to bounce back from Sunday's late defeat to Carlisle United, a result which saw a promising run of form come to an end.

Leyton Orient got the match underway, but it was Walsall who started the brighter, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, just a minute in as Josh Gordon was felled on the edge of the box. Rory Holden fired the set-piece goal-wards, winning a corner for the side as the ball was deflected behind, but Gordon's headed effort from the flag-kick sailed over the crossbar.

The teams took a little time to settle into the game, but Orient soon won a free-kick themselves, which drew the first save of the match from Walsall 'keeper, Liam Roberts who positioned himself well to hold Ruel Sotiriou's shot.

A misplaced pass from Danny Guthrie almost allowed Lee Angol through on goal moments later, but Mat Sadler was alert to the danger and got back to prevent him getting a shot away.

Some in the Orient camp felt they should have been awarded a penalty, twelve minutes in, as Sotiriou was out-muscled by Dan Scarr inside the area, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

The Saddlers saw plenty of the ball in the early goings, without creating much going forwards, but thirteen minutes in Wesley McDonald looked to deliver the ball to Caolan Lavery inside the box, unfortunately for the home side, an Orient defender was on hand to clear ahead of the striker.

There was a brief halt to proceedings as we reached the quarter hour mark, whilst Shay Facey received treatment for a knock. It was soon determined that he would be unable to continue, and Cameron Norman was introduced in his place.

Twenty-three minutes in, Myles Judd became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Cameron Pring. Guthrie went close with the resulting free-kick, but the ball ultimately sailed through the area and out for a goal-kick.

The visiting side went close just two minutes later, as Judd and Wright helped the ball on to Angol who headed it down to Sotiriou, but the effort on goal sailed wide of Roberts upright.

Walsall soon had the ball back at the other end though, where they won a corner as Craig Clay was forced to put the ball out of play. The visitors defended well though and cleared the danger.

The Saddlers felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the thirty-first minute, as Gordon was felled in the box, but just like the earlier calls from Orient, the appeals were ignored and play waved on.

Walsall continued to press, with McDonald playing in Gordon in the thirty-sixth minute, but Orient shot-stopper, Sam Sargeant was well placed and turned the effort behind for a corner. Guthrie's ball in from the flag-kick was eventually played through to Gordon who fired an effort goal-wards from point blank range, only to see Sargeant save.

With thirty-seven minutes on the clock, the Saddlers were forced to make their second substitution of the afternoon, as Danny Guthrie suffered a knock that would force him to sit out the remainder of the game. Alfie Bates the man brought on to replace him.

Forty-three minutes in, after a short spell of Orient pressure, the Saddlers found the breakthrough. A long goal-kick from Roberts being flicked on by Lavery for Gordon, who coolly rounded the 'keeper and slotted home.

Three minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time, the visiting side looked to draw level, but after some good work from Clay to win the ball, Sotiriou wasted the opportunity, firing high over the bar. That would be the last real action of the half, and the sides headed off for their first half-time chat of the new year, with the Saddlers leading by one-goal-to-nil.

WALSALL
1 - 0
ORIENT

Leyton Orient opted to make a double change to their line-up ahead of the second-half, with captain, Josh Wright and Lee Angol sitting it out, in favour of James Brophy and Matt Harrold.

The Saddlers got the action back underway, and they set about looking to double their advantage quickly after, with McDonald and Gordon linking up well, before a shot from the former was saved by Sargeant.

Orient again felt they might have been awarded a penalty in the fifty-first minute, as the recently introduced Brophy went down inside the box, but the referee remained unmoved and allowed play to continue.

Fifty-six minutes in, Cameron Pring became the second player to see yellow, as he was booked for a foul on Harrold.

The home side went close to securing a second goal as we reached the hour mark, but after some superb work from Holden culminated in him delivering a well placed cross to Gordon, the striker headed wide.

With sixty-two minutes on the clock, Josh Gordon joined those in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Brophy.

The visiting side began to grow into the game as the minutes ticked by, and won a corner in the sixty-fourth minute, but Jordan Maguire-Drew was unable to get the ball down in time from the flag-kick and it sailed harmlessly out of play.

Walsall were reduced to ten men in the sixty-sixth minute, as Cameron Pring received his marching orders as a foul on George Marsh was deemed to be a second bookable offence.

There were further claims for an Orient penalty in the sixty-seventh minute, as a scramble ensued inside the box, but play continued and the ball eventually fell to Maguire-Drew who fired over.

In the seventieth minute, the Saddlers responded to the sending off by making their third and final change of the afternoon.  Wesley McDonald the man to make way, as Callum Cockerill-Mollett entered the fray.

Three minutes later, Liam Kinsella joined the growing ranks finding their names penned in the referee's notebook, as he saw yellow for a foul on Sotiriou.

Fifteen minutes from time, Kinsella headed the ball into the path of Gordon, but a deflection off the 'keeper, saw the effort sail wide and the resulting corner was dealt with by the visitors.

Seventy-nine minutes in, the Saddlers won a free-kick in a dangerous position, which was crossed into the box by Bates, for Scarr, whose headed effort sailed wide of Sargeant's post. The home side continuing to see much of the ball and keep the pressure away from Roberts goal, despite being a man down.

Eighty-one minutes in, the visiting side were able to break towards goal though, but the move culminated in Sotiriou heading wide.

Orient opted to make a third and final change to their line-up in the eighty-third minute, with Jamie Turley making way for Louis Dennis, as the side looked to make their man advantage pay.

The Saddlers limited the visiting side to speculative chances as time ran down, with the best falling to Marsh in the eighty-eighth minute, but his effort from outside the area sailed wide of the upright, without troubling Roberts.

Orient went on to win a corner two minutes later, as four additional minutes were added to end the game, but the stoic Saddlers defences stood firm to ensure nothing would come of it.

With ninety-one minutes showing on the clock, Liam Roberts saw yellow, as he was booked for time wasting.

That would be the last real action of the afternoon though, as Walsall were able to withstand the late pressure from Orient and held on to see out a one-nil victory.

Three very welcome points remaining in the West Midlands, but a worrying afternoon for the Saddlers who will face their upcoming fixture with Salford City, with Cameron Pring unavailable through suspension, and concerns over the fitness of both Shay Facey and Danny Guthrie.

WALSALL
1 - 0
ORIENT
Gordon (38')

Attendance: 4,263 (425)
Referee: Darren Handley

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