Saturday, 8 February 2020

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Match Report: Forest Green Rovers 1 Walsall 2

5:15 pm Saturday, 8 February 2020
Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between Forest Green Rovers and Walsall.
With a run of three consecutive defeats the Saddlers made their first-ever trip to the New Lawn in search of three much-needed points as they look to avoid dropping back towards the lower reaches of the table.

Forest Green Rovers got the match underway, but after a frenetic start, it was Walsall who created the first half-chance of the game, three minutes in as a long kick from 'keeper, Liam Roberts playing Caolan Lavery in, but the striker was unable to control and the chance went begging.

The home side saw a chance missed themselves, two minutes later as Robert Hall picked up the ball in midfield and raced goal-wards, only to see his effort from the edge of the area blocked.

Forest Green continued to see much of the ball as the game continued, but they were unable to make use of it, and the Saddlers broke in the tenth minute, though the move ultimately came to nothing as a cross aimed at Rory Holden was cleared by the hosts.

Back at the other end, three minutes later, Hall tried his luck again with a strike from the edge of the box, but Roberts got down well to deny him.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides enjoying time on the ball, whilst not being allowed to create anything by their opposition.

Walsall finally began to apply more pressure in the twenty-third minute, but the eventual ball in trickled out of play for a goal-kick. The Saddlers continued to look the more likely to score and they almost found the breakthrough in the twenty-sixth minute, as a Holden free-kick fell to Nathan Sheron at the back post, but he was unable to turn it home.

A corner at the other end, two minutes later, saw Sheron on defensive duty, as the Fleetwood Town loanee, headed clear.

The Saddlers felt they should have been awarded a penalty as we reached the half hour mark, as a cross from Holden saw Lavery fire goal-wards, with the effort appearing to hit the hand of Farrend Rawson, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and play continued.

The visiting side continued to press, winning a corner in the thirty-third minute, which Holden swung in towards the back post, but Shay Facey was unable to direct his headed effort on target.

The hosts won a corner at the other end moments later, as Dan Scarr turned a Ebou Adams shot out of play. The delivery was superb, finding the head of Liam Kitching, who thought he had scored, but a well placed Cameron Pring cleared the ball off the line to deny the hosts an opening goal.

With thirty-nine minutes on the clock, Josh Gordon became the first player to see yellow, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Jack Aitchison.

The Saddlers won another corner in the forty-first minute, as a Lavery effort was blocked, but nothing would come of the flag-kick, and Rovers raced up to the other end, where they too saw a corner kick come to nothing.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, but despite winning a late corner, there was no further action, as the Saddlers took far too long to arrange themselves to take the flag-kick and the set-piece was never taken, with the sides heading off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied.

FGR
0 - 0
WALSALL

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and Walsall got the match back underway. The second-half started slowly, but seven minutes in, Liam Kinsella was felled inside the box, by Kevin Dawson, giving the referee had no option but to award the Saddlers a penalty. Josh Gordon stepped up to take the spot-kick, which Rovers 'keeper, Conrad Logan got a touch on as it sailed into the back of the net.

Moments after opening the scoring, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Rory Holden making way for Wesley McDonald.

Forest Green looked to get back into the game quickly, winning a corner as a Josh March cross was turned behind. The flag-kick eventually found Christopher Stokes whose effort on goal was cleared off the line by Pring.

With fifty-seven minutes on the clock, the Forest Green bench opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Rob Hall departing, in favour of Aaron Collins.

Four minutes after his introduction into the game, Collins first involvement was a shot from distance, which sailed narrowly wide of Roberts' upright.

The hosts continued to press, as they looked to get back on level terms, but captain, Carl Winchester was unable to beat a well placed Sheron with his sixty-fifth minute effort. The resulting corner was then cleared.

Nineteen minutes from time, the home team rolled the dice, introducing their final two substitutes of the day. Ebou Adams and Kevin Dawson the men to make way as George Williams and Elliott Frear joined the fray.

Williams was quick to get involved in the action, working the ball into box before playing it out to Kitching, who in turn found Collins at the back post, but the striker was unable to connect cleanly and the chance went begging.

With seventy-three minutes on the clock, against the run of play, Walsall doubled their advantage as McDonald pounced on a loose ball, drove into the box and powered the ball past Logan.

Seconds after the goal, the Saddlers opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Josh Gordon making way for Elijah Adebayo.

The hosts, with quite the task on their hands, set about trying to take something from the game, with Bailey seeing a volley deflect behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

With seventy-seven minutes on the clock, Nathan Sheron became the second player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card.

Ten minutes from time, the hosts won another corner, as a right-footed effort from Collins was turned behind by Roberts, but the Saddlers defences stood firm and cleared the danger.

Rovers continued to press, winning a free-kick in the eighty-first minute, which March fired narrowly wide of the target.

With just four of the regulation ninety minutes remaining, the home team pulled a goal back, as Collins flicked a corner kick on at the near post, allowing March to nod home from close range, although the goal was officially awarded to Collins.

Five additional minutes were added to end the match, with Forest Green desperately searching for a goal to pull themselves back onto level terms. However, it was Walsall who had the ball in the net in the ninetieth minute, as Adebayo beat the 'keeper, he was though, adjudged to have been in an offside position and the goal would not stand.

The hosts continued to seek a late goal late into stoppage time, with Williams seeing an effort blocked, before Winchester fired a free-kick into the waiting arms of Roberts.

Jack Aitchison was next to sight goal, but his right-footed effort from close range was well saved by the Walsall shot-stopper, and that would be the last real action of the game, as the Saddlers held on to take all three points.

A decent display from the travelling side, who took their chances when they presented, and defended stoically to ensure their hosts could not get back into the game.

FGR
1 - 2
WALSALL
Collins (87')

Gordon [P] (52')
McDonald (73')
ATT: 3,136 (995)
REF: Antony Coggins

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