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Match Report: Walsall 2 Crawley Town 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Walsall and Crawley Town.
Arriving at the match on the back of last weekend's disappointing defeat to title-chasing Cheltenham Town, the Saddlers took on Crawley Town with a view to returning to winning ways and building a welcome buffer over their opponents in the process.

Crawley got the action underway, and the away side started well, with fourth minute Beryly Lulbala cross into the box evading everyone, moments before a cross from Josh Doherty was headed behind for the first corner of the game, which ultimately came to nothing.

Walsall soon had the ball up at the other end, where they won a corner themselves as a Wes McDonald cross was headed into the side-netting by Jamie Sendles-White. The ball in from the flag-kick found the head of Dan Scarr, who turned the ball wide.

The Saddlers would soon win another corner, as Panutche Camara turned another McDonald cross out of play. The ball in was good, falling to James Clarke, but his headed effort sailed wide of the upright.

Crawley went close to opening the scoring in the fourteenth minute, as Ashley Nadesan held up play well to set up Ollie Palmer, but the striker's driven effort was easily saved by Walsall 'keeper, Liam Roberts.

The visiting side went close again just two minutes later, as some superb work from Tarryn Allarakhia culminated in a right-footed effort sailing narrowly wide of Roberts' upright.

Walsall soon had the ball back at the other end, but after some good work from Elijah Adebayo to get the ball into the box, Jordan Tunnicliffe cleared before anyone in red could turn it home. The resulting corner was played into the box by Josh Holden, where it was met by Josh Gordon, but Crawley shot-stopper, Glenn Morris was well positioned to save.

Tunnicliffe conceded another corner just two minutes later, as he was forced to make a sliding tackle to deny Caolan Lavery. The visiting side continued to defend well, ensuring nothing would come of the flag-kick.

With twenty-seven minutes on the clock, Crawley opened the scoring, as Camara fired a powerful effort into the top corner from just twelve yards out, after the Saddlers failed to clear a ball into the box.

Three minutes later, the Saddlers looked to have responded, with Adebayo tucking the ball home, but the linesman's flag was raised for an offside infringement and the goal was disallowed.

Walsall continued to press and went close again in the thirty-fourth minute, as a low ball in from McDonald looked to have set up Adebayo, but a touch from a Crawley defender ensured the ball would travel wide, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

The Saddlers won further corners in the following minutes too, as they continued the hunt for an equalising goal, but those too would come to nothing.

The hosts continued the assault on the Crawley goal as the game continued, with Morris forced into action in the thirty-eighth minute, as a header from Scarr almost found the target,  before Lavery hit the woodwork with an effort from the resulting corner.

The final five minutes of the first-half were a quieter affair, and after one minute of additional was played, the referee brought the opening forty-five to it's conclusion and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments, with Crawley's one goal lead intact.

WALSALL
0 - 1
CRAWLEY

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and Walsall got the match back underway. The second-half started quietly, with both sides seeing the ball, without troubling their opposition defences.

With fifty-one minutes on the clock, Crawley should have doubled their advantage, as Nadesan raced through on goal, but Roberts was alert in the Walsall goal and pulled off a fine save to deny him.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a bright spell, with the Saddlers struggling to win the ball from them.

As we reached the hour mark, Town opted to make a double change to their line-up, with both Tarryn Allarakhia and Ashley Nadesan making way, as Tom Dallison and George Francomb took their places.

Walsall responded by making a change of their own, just three minutes later, as Elijah Adebayo was replaced by the Saddlers newest recruit, Jack Nolan.

With sixty-six minutes on the clock, Josh Dacres-Cogley became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Holden.

That would the last action for Rory Holden, who was replaced by Danny Guthrie a minute later.

With seventy-one minutes on the clock, Crawley were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. The set-piece found Tunnicliffe, whose headed effort was easily saved by a well placed Roberts.

Walsall drew level in the seventy-second minute, as a lovely flick from Lavery played in Gordon who fired low a low effort past Morris to secure his ninth goal of the season.

Buoyed by the goal, the Saddlers continued to press, winning a corner in the seventy-fourth minute, which was played in by Guthrie and met by Nolan who fired a left-footed effort goal-wards from outside the box, but Morris was on hand to deny the debutante.

In the seventy-sixth minute, Lubala became the second player to see yellow, as he earned himself a booking with a foul on Scarr.

The Saddlers continued to look the more likely to score, winning another corner in the seventy-eighth minute, which was met by Clarke, whose headed effort sailed narrowly wide of the post.

Eight minutes from time, Camara became the third Crawley player to see his details taken by the referee, as he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Cameron Norman.

The resulting free-kick saw Guthrie play the ball in for Clarke, but the Walsall captain's headed effort sailed narrowly over the bar.

Unperturbed, the Saddlers continued to look for a late winner, with Lavery winning a corner for his side five minutes from time, with a left-footed effort which was blocked behind, but the flag-kick came to nothing.

Walsall's hard work paid off in the eighty-eighth minute, as McDonald cut inside before curling an exquisite effort into the far corner to put his side ahead for the first time in the game.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time Walsall opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as they looked to run down the clock. Josh Gordon the man to make way, as Kory Roberts entered the fray.

That would be the last real action of the afternoon though, as the Saddlers held on to keep all three points in the Black Country. A decent, and disciplined display from the home side, who left it late, but kept plugging away until the last.

WALSALL
2 - 1
CRAWLEY
Gordon (72')
McDonald (88')
Camara (27')

ATT: 4,011 (154)
REF: Seb Stockbridge
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