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Match Report: Walsall 1 Chelsea U21s 1 (Pens 3-5)

The Saddlers were back in action on Tuesday evening as attention turned to the EFL Trophy.
Playing host to Chelsea Under-21s at a fan-less Banks's Stadium, the Saddlers were looking for a win following their opening Southern Group D bonus point win over Bristol Rovers earlier in the month.

Walsall got the match underway, but it was Chelsea who saw the majority of the early possession, as both sides took their time to settle into the game, during a quiet opening ten minutes.

However, it was the Saddlers who created the first chance of the encounter, as, eleven minutes in, Elijah Adebayo worked his way into space on the edge of the area, but the strikers effort was easily gathered by Chelsea 'keeper, Lucas Bergstrom.

Just two minutes later, Adebayo was presented with another opportunity to turn the ball goal-wards, as Wesley McDonald curled a well-placed cross his way, but his headed effort sailed clear of the crossbar and the scores remained level.

The Saddlers continued to look the brighter of the two sides, and as we reached the quarter hour mark, they saw another chance go begging, as a long-range Emmanuel Osadebe shot sailed wide of the upright.

In the nineteenth minute, the visiting side created their first chance of the evening, with George Nunn and Thierno Ballo combining well to force a save from Jack Rose. The young Walsall shot-stopper getting down well to turn the effort away.

Walsall saw much of the ball again in the following five minutes, though ultimately they were unable to create any further chances of note, before Ballo again looked to cause problems up at the other end, but his eventual cross into the danger zone evaded his teammates.

Chelsea continued to press, but were unable to make their possession pay, and the Saddlers soon had the ball back; George Nurse picking it up in the middle of the park, before driving goal-wards and firing an effort narrowly over the crossbar.

In the thirty-second minute, George Nurse became the first player to see yellow, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Myles Peart-Harris.

Just one minute later, George Nunn joined Nurse in the referee's notebook, as he was shown the yellow card for a foul on Cameron Norman.

Both sides continued to enjoy spells of possession as the match wore on, but chances were few and far between, though Jack Nolan went close in the thirty-sixth minute as he turned a McDonald cross, sending the ball sailing inches over the bar.

The Saddlers continued to press as we raced towards the interval, but a last ditch challenge ensured Adebayo could not fire home in the fortieth minute, with the resulting corner also failing to hit the mark.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers again went close as McDonald played in Adebayo, who saw an effort tipped clear by Bergstrom, before the ball was played back to the striker who headed wide.

That would be the last real action of the first-half, and after one additional minute was played, the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied.

TOWN
HT
WALSALL
WALSALL
0 - 0
CHELSEA

The sides returned unchanged following the break, and Chelsea got the second-half action underway. The visiting side were quick to create the opening chance of the half, winning a corner just two minutes in, which fell to Valentino Livramento, whose headed effort looped just over the bar, to land on the roof of the net.

With fifty-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers found the breakthrough, as, after a brilliant one-two with Adebayo, McDonald fired home with an assist from the inside of the post.

In the fifty-fifth minute, Walsall opted to make a double substitution, with Danny Guthrie and Jack Nolan departing, as Stuart Sinclair and Rory Holden took to the field.

Walsall continued to enjoy plenty of possession as the match continued, and went close to doubling their advantage in the sixty-second minute, as Osadebe played the ball into the path of Adebayo, but Bergstrom was able to get a foot to the ball to deny the striker a goal.

Moments later, McDonald also saw an effort blocked, after Holden played him through on goal.

In the sixty-fifth minute, Chelsea chose to make their first change of the evening, with George Nunn making way in favour of Bryan Fiabema.

Just two minutes later, the visiting side opted to make their second change of the game, as Harvey Vale replaced Myles Peart-Harris.

With sixty-nine minutes played, Chelsea won a corner as Nurse put the ball behind. The flag-kick was played into the box, and after a bit of a scramble, Dynel Simeu headed home from close range to tie the scores.

The Saddlers responded to the goal by making their third and final change of the evening, as Emmanuel Osadebe was replaced by Caolan Lavery, with nineteen minutes still to play.

The match became something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball, without creating anything of note, though Adebayo did see an effort sail wide of the upright in the eighty-first minute.

Four minutes from time, the Saddlers almost nicked it, as a deep McDonald cross found an unmarked Norman on the edge of the area, but Bergstrom was well placed to prevent his low volley goal-wards finding the target.

As the prospect of another penalty shoot-out loomed, Chelsea opted to make a late change to their line-up, with Valentino Livramento making way for Dion Rankine, in the eighty-seventh minute.

Three additional minutes were added to end the contest, but Ian Maatsen was unable to put the game to bed when presented with a chance two minutes into them, and the match ended with the scores level, sending the game into a penalty shoot-out to decide which team should leave with a bonus point.

After nine spot-kicks were taken, Chelsea walked away with the extra point, as all five of their penalty takers - Russell, Fiabema, Ballo, Simeu and Maatsen - hit the mark, whilst Norman faltered with the Saddlers first, leaving his side with too much to do, despite Holden, Adebayo and Lavery all converting.

TOWN
FT
WALSALL
WALSALL
1 - 1
CHELSEA
McDonald (53')
Simeu (69')
🟥 Norman
🟩 Holden
🟩 Adebayo
🟩 Lavery
-
PENALTIES
🟩 Russell
🟩 Fiabema
🟩 Ballo
🟩 Simeu
🟩 Maatsen
VENUE
Banks's Stadium
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