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Match Report: Walsall 1 Burton Albion 1

The Saddlers played their first home pre-season fixture on Saturday afternoon as Burton Albion made the trip to WS1.
Darrell Clarke's side arrived at the match on the back of last week's win over Shrewsbury Town where midfielder Liam Kinsella bagged the only goal of the game, earning his side their first win of pre-season.

Walsall's team for their clash with the Brewers consisted of Liam Roberts, Cameron Norman, James Clarke, Dan Scarr, Callum Cockerill-Mollett, Alfie Bates, Liam Kinsella, Josh Gordon, Rory Holden, Wes McDonald and Caolan Lavery.

Whilst Tommy Jackson; A.Trialist, B.Trialist, Mat Sadler, Zak Jules, Joe Foulkes, Tom Leak, Sam Perry, Joe Willis, Jayden Campbell, Jack Nolan and Elijah Adebayo were named on the bench.

Visitors Burton Albion started the game brightly, winning a corner in the opening moments, but the Saddlers defended well to ensure it came to nothing. It wasn't long before the visiting side had the ball back in the danger zone, with Charles Vernam drawing a relatively easy save from Liam Roberts.

The Brewers continued to see much of the ball as the game continued, and won a second corner around six minutes in, which Walsall were again able to defend.

The home team began to settle more into the game as the minutes passed, seeing more of the ball and keeping possession for spells, though they struggled to get the ball into the box, until they were awarded a free-kick in the tenth minute, from which they took an early lead, as Josh Gordon slotted home a well-placed pass from Alfie Bates.

The lead was short-lived, however, as a fifteenth minute Burton corner saw John Brayford poke home from close range as the Saddlers failed to clear the danger.

Walsall almost secured a second goal in the twentieth minute, as a lovely cross from Caolan Lavery delivered the ball to Rory Holden in the six-yard box, but the midfielder lifted his effort over the bar. Gordon similarly saw a shot fly over the crossbar just four minutes later as the Saddlers continued to look the brighter of the two sides.

As we passed the half-hour mark, the Saddlers again went close to securing a second goal, with some good work from Holden seeing Lavery free to get a shot away, but the effort, like those before it, sailed over the bar.

The visiting side opted to make an early change to their line-up, with Luke Varney making way for Tom Hewlett in the thirty-fourth minute.

Both sides saw plenty of the ball as we raced towards the break, keeping possession well around the midfield area, whilst struggling to break forwards.

Shortly before the interval, the Brewers patience on the ball was rewarded with a corner, but the Saddlers were able to deal with the danger with ease, and play returned to the midfield area until the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores tied.

WALSALL
1 - 1
BURTON

Burton opted to make two changes at the break, with John-Joe O'Toole and Steven Lawless sitting out the second-half as trialists Owen Gallacher and Simon Dawkins took their places, whilst Walsall chose to begin the half with their first-half eleven.

The Saddlers began the second-half brightly, enjoying lots of time on the ball as they sought to test their oppositions defences, which stood firm to ensure there was little to worry their 'keeper.

Burton were almost gifted a goal eight minutes into the half, as Dan Scarr went close to putting the ball in his own net as he chested the ball back to Roberts, but the shot-stopper was alert and turned the ball behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

After a spell of midfield action, Burton won another corner, which the Saddlers struggled to clear.

As we reached the hour mark, both sides opted to make changes, with Burton introducing Neal Eardley and Jevan Anderson taking the places of Charles Vernam and Stephen Quinn, whilst the Saddlers introduced six new faces. Jack Nolan, Sam Perry, Elijah Adebayo, Mat Sadler and Trialist's A and B the men to replace Rory Holden, Caolan Lavery, Alfie Bates, Josh Gordon, James Clarke and Liam Kinsella.

Both sides settled back into the game quickly following the raft of changes, with lots of action centred in the midfield area. Both sides keeping possession well as the game wore on, but there was little threat on goal from either team.

A further three changes followed for the Saddlers in seventy-third minute, as Dan Scarr, Wes McDonald and Callum Cockerill-Mollett made way for Jayden Campbell, Zak Jules and Tom Leak.

Ten minutes from time, the Brewers won a free-kick in a dangerous position which eventually fell to Ben Fox, on the edge of the area, but his effort, through the crowded box, was tame and easily saved by Roberts.

Walsall soon worked the ball up to the other end, with Nolan playing in Adebayo with a well-placed cross, but the strikers headed effort sailed narrowly wide of the far post.

The game remained an open affair, with Burton seeing another chance go begging just two minutes later, as a Hewlett effort sailed inches over the crossbar, before the Saddlers drew a save from Ben Garratt in the Brewers goal, with an angled effort, which the 'keeper was equal to.

Both sides continued to seek openings as the final few minutes were played out, but neither were able to create another effort of note, and with the referee seemingly keen to get home, the contest was brought to an end with the scores still level.

WALSALL
1 - 1
BURTON
Gordon (10')
Brayford (14')

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