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Match Report: Walsall 1 Crewe Alexandra 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Sky Bet League Two clash between the Saddlers and Crewe Alexandra.
Having suffered two defeats in just a few days, the Saddlers arrived at this weekend's game in search of three much-needed points as they look to edge further up the table and put their relegation worries behind them..

Aside from Reading winger Jack Nolan and on-loan Fleetwood Town midfielder Nathan Sheron, manager Darrell Clarke was unable to add any further players to his squad on Deadline Day and, aside from potential free agents, will have to make do with the squad at his disposal.

Crewe Alexandra got the match underway, but the match got off to something of a slow start, with both sides taking some time to get going. Though five minutes in, the visitors did manage to create the first chance of the afternoon, as Harry Pickering and Chuma Anene combined to set up James Jones, who volleyed a shot just over the crossbar.

Walsall weren't far behind in creating their first chance of the afternoon, with Rory Holden, Josh Gordon and Caolan Lavery all playing a part in playing Shay Facey in, but Crewe 'keeper, Will Jaaskelainen did well to get down to save.

The visitors were quick to respond, working the ball back to the other end, where Charlie Kirk watched an effort sail wide of the mark, after latching onto a good cross from Ryan Wintle.

Crewe went on to win the first corner of the game in the eleventh minute, but the Saddlers defences stood firm and nothing came of it.

With fifteen minutes on the clock, Walsall were powered into the lead by Lavery, who met a pass from Gordon and slotted the ball home.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball, without causing too many problems for their opposition.

The Saddlers almost doubled their advantage in the twenty-fourth minute though, with Holden doing well to get the ball onto the head of Lavery at the back post, but the striker was unable to make a clean contact with it and it sailed out of play.

The hosts continued to press, going close again just two minutes later, as a Holden free-kick was cleared only as far as Nathan Sheron, who was waiting on the edge of the area, but the Fleetwood Town loanee was unable to direct his strike to the right side of the post.

As we reached the half hour mark, Crewe won a corner as Sheron put the ball out of play, but Jones was unable to turn Pickering's cross home, sending the ball wide of the upright.

Walsall soon had the ball back at the other end again, thanks to some good work from Holden, but Gordon was unable to take advantage as he fired narrowly over the bar.

With thirty-six minutes on the clock, the Alex won another corner, as Holden turned the ball out of play to prevent a shot on goal, but again, the flag-kick would come to nothing.

After another spell of midfield play, the Saddlers won a corner themselves, as Crewe captain, Perry Ng turned the ball behind, but nothing would come of that either.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, but that was played without incident and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the Saddlers slender, one-goal-to-nil, lead intact.

WALSALL
1 - 0
CREWE

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Walsall got the match action back underway. Crewe set about looking for a goal to draw level, from the off, winning a corner just three minutes into the half, from which Jones fired over.

Just five minutes after the re-start, the teams found themselves back on level terms, as Pickering and Ng combined well from another corner kick to set up Powell with an easy tap in from close range.

The early frenetic pace calmed a little as the game continued, but six minutes after drawing level, the Alex could have taken the lead, but Charlie Kirk's effort sailed narrowly wide of Liam Roberts' upright.

The visiting side continued to see much of the ball as the game continued, thought the Saddlers defences limited their shots at goal.

With sixty-four minutes on the clock, Liam Kinsella became the first player to see his name taken by the referee, as he saw yellow for a foul on Kirk.

The resulting free-kick saw Crewe go close to taking the lead, as Kirk crossed to Anene whose headed effort sailed inches wide of the far post.

Just three minutes later, the visiting side had more luck in front of goal, as Oliver Finney fired a headed cross from Kirk into the bottom corner to put his side ahead.

Darrell Clarke responded to falling a goal behind, by making his first change of the afternoon, with Wesley McDonald making way for Jack Nolan.

Crewe also took the opportunity to change their line-up, with goal-scorer, Oliver Finney unable to continue after picking up an injury, allowing Callum Ainley to take his place.

With seventy-one minutes on the clock, the Saddlers chose to make a second substitution, with Nathan Sheron being replaced by Danny Guthrie.

The Alex almost extended their lead in the seventy-fourth minute, but Roberts was well placed to keep his side in it, as he held Wintle's effort.

The visiting side continued to enjoy much of the ball as the match continued, and with seventy-seven minutes on the clock, that prompted the Walsall bench to make their third and final change of the afternoon, with Rory Holden making way for Elijah Adebayo.

Seventy-nine minutes in, Shay Facey joined Kinsella in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Wintle.

The final ten minutes were a fairly quiet affair, though Caolan Lavery did find himself joining those on a yellow card in the eighty-eighth minute, as he was booked for a foul on Pickering.

Four additional minutes were added to end the match, during which time Adebayo headed a Facey cross wide. That would be the only action of note though, as time was called on the contest with Crewe's two-goals-to-one lead intact.

Yet another disappointing display from the inconsistent Saddlers, who showed marked improvement since their midweek outing in the first-half, only to fail to turn up for the second forty-five.

WALSALL
1 - 2
CREWE
Lavery (15')

Powell (50')
Finney (68')
ATT: 4,610 (860)
REF: Lee Swabey

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