Match Report: Walsall 1 Crawley Town 0

Walsall were back in League Two action on Tuesday evening.
Playing host to Crawley Town, the Saddlers were looking to build upon their bounce-back draw with Mansfield Town with manager Darrell Clarke calling for his side to enter a much-improved performance.

Walsall got the game underway, but just five minutes in, they were lucky not to fall behind, as shot-stopper, Liam Roberts spilled the ball after denying Josh Doherty from range. The man between the sticks doing well to recover in time to prevent a follow-up effort.

Crawley Town continued to press, with Jake Hessenthaler picking out Tyler Frost in shooting range, just a minute later, but Roberts was well placed to collect the, somewhat weak, effort.

A foul by Hessenthaler on Elijah Adebayo, gifted the Saddlers their first half-chance of the evening as we reached the quarter hour mark, but Rory Holden was unable to find the target from the set-piece, after a good ball in from Alfie Bates found him in space.

Both sides enjoyed spells of possession as the game continued, with much of the play confined to the midfield area as the teams cancelled each other out.

With eighteen minutes on the clock, Mat Sadler became the first player to receive a yellow card; the defender booked for a foul on Watters.

Caolan Lavery went close to opening the scoring in the twenty-first minute, as a low cross was deflected onto the post by Jordan Tunnicliffe. The resulting corner coming to nothing.

The Saddlers continued to pile on the pressure, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, a short time later, but they were ultimately unable to make use of the opportunity.

Walsall continued to look the more likely to open the scoring, as they enjoyed some good spells of possession, but they remained unable to make their time on the ball pay.

As we reached the hour mark, some good work from Sam Ashford gifted Frost a chance on goal up at the other end, but the midfielders effort struck the post from a tight angle, before Jack Powell sent the ball sailing high over the crossbar from the rebound.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a brighter spell as the game wore on, and after denying Walsall from a corner, went on to win a corner themselves at the other end, in the thirty-eighth minute as a Frost cross was turned out of play by Cameron Norman. Powell played the flag-kick in deep, but Zak Jules was well placed to put the ball out of play.

The second corner kick was again played in by Powell, this time to Tony Craig in the centre of the box, but Roberts was well placed to ensure that the defenders effort would not find the target.

With thirty-eight minutes on the clock, Tom Nichols became the second player to receive a caution, picking up a yellow card for a foul on Norman.

Town continued to press as we raced towards the break, with Ashford seeing an effort turned behind, by Liam Kinsella, for a corner in the forty-fourth minute. The Saddlers defences remained alert, and Jules turned the in-swinging ball out of play for a second flag-kick, which also came to nothing.

The Saddlers were presented with a late chance, as one additional minute was added to end the first-half, but Lavery was unable to keep his effort down after some good play from Holden and Adebayo set him up on the edge of the area.

That would be the final action of the half, and the teams headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied.

0 - 0

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Crawley got the action back underway, but it was Walsall who were presented with the first chance of the half, as Holden won a free-kick for his side, but Wes McDonald's long-range effort sailed wide.

The visiting side were soon on the attack themselves though, with Ashford and Davies combining to win their side a corner kick in the fifty-second minute. The ball in was good, but Powell's shot was turned into the path of Hessenthaler who saw his effort turned behind for another corner, which the Saddlers defences were able to clear. 
With fifty-four minutes on the clock, Crawley were forced to make their first change of the evening, as goalkeeper Glenn Morris was forced to make way due to injury, with Tom McGill taking his place.

The visitors continued to press, following the change, winning another corner in the fifty-fifth minute, but Nichols was unable to keep his headed effort on target.

Walsall won a corner themselves moments later, but Alfie Bates saw his shot from outside the box sail wide of the upright, without troubling the recently introduced 'keeper.

Another corner followed, back at the other end, and Crawley should have opened the scoring, as Powell picked out Craig in the centre of the box, but the defender's headed effort sailed inches over the crossbar.

The end-to-end action continued, with Norman doing well to play Adebayo in at the other end moments later, but the striker found the angle too tight, and his headed effort sailed wide of the far post.

The Saddlers were presented with another chance on goal in the sixty-sixth minute, but after doing well to create space for himself inside the box, McDonald saw his shot trickle inches wide of the upright.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, Walsall manager, Darrell Clarke, opted to make a double change to his line-up, with both Caolan Lavery and Alfie Bates making way as Emmanuel Osadebe and Jake Scrimshaw took to the field.

Walsall finally found a breakthrough seventy-four minutes into the contest, as Holden and Dan Scarr combined to win their side a corner kick, which Scarr rose well to reach, seeing his headed effort saved before Sadler poked home the rebound.

Buoyed by the goal, the Saddlers set out to grab a second within a minute, but Adebayo's long-range shot had fractionally too much on it.

The visiting side responded to falling a goal behind by making their two remaining substitutions in the seventy-eighth minute. Sam Ashford and Tyler Frost the two men to depart, as Ashley Nadesan and Tarryn Allarakhia took their places.

The visitors began to enjoy a brighter spell following the change to their line-up, but Archie Davies' seventy-ninth minute effort from outside the area was easily saved, as was effort from the corner kick won just three minutes later.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the eighty-fourth minute, whilst Davies received treatment following a nudge in the back from Adebayo. Fortunately for the visitors, he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Two minutes from time, the Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the evening, with Wes McDonald making way for Callum Cockerill-Mollett.

Moments after the change was completed, Crawley looked to have restored parity as Nichols headed the ball goal-wards, but the ball clipped the post and the Saddlers defences cleared up-field, creating a chance for Holden at the other end. McGill well placed to deny the hosts a second.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game, but the Saddlers managed to frustrate their visitors, slowing the game, and held on to take all three points.

1 - 0
Sadler (74')

Banks's Stadium
Samuel Barrott
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