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Match Report: Walsall 2 Bolton Wanderers 1

Walsall were back in action on Saturday afternoon as they played host to Bolton Wanderers at Banks's Stadium.
Heading into the match on the back of last weekend's 3-1 triumph over Tranmere Rovers, the Saddlers were looking to edge closer to the Play-Off places as they welcomed Ian Evatts' Trotters to the Black Country.

Bolton got the match underway, but it was Walsall who created the first chance of the afternoon, as, just two minutes in, the ball fell to Wes McDonald, thirty yards from goal, with the midfielder curling his effort narrowly over the crossbar.

The visiting side were quick to work the ball back up to the other end, with some good work from Nathan Delfouneso leading to Peter Kioso seeing a cross into the box held by Walsall shot-stopper, Jack Rose.

Bolton won continued to press, winning the first corner of the game in the fifth minute, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to ensure nothing would come of it.

Things settled a little as it continued, but thirteen minutes in, Bolton opened the scoring, as Delfouneso crossed the ball into the box for Eoin Doyle who netted his eighth goal of the season.

The game became something of a midfield battle as it continued, with the sides cancelling each other out as a series of fouls and free-kicks ensued.

It wasn't until the twenty-sixth minute that the Saddlers were able to create a real opportunity to level the scores. However, after putting on a display to work the ball into shooting range, Rory Holden was unable to beat Bolton 'keeper, Matt Gilks from the edge of the area.

The Saddlers continued to seek a goal, and twenty-nine minutes in they were a little unlucky not to at least get a shot away, as a McDonald cross across the face of goal evaded everyone.

Bolton soon had the ball back at the other end, with some good work from Ali Crawford and Kioso setting up Doyle, but the goal-scorer was unable to repeat his earlier feat, finding only the side netting with a low, driven shot.

The visitors continued to press, and were a little unlucky not to double their advantage in the thirty-fifth minute, as Delfouneso got on the end of a Doyle cross, with his headed effort sailing inches over the crossbar.

Four minutes later, Delfouneso was again presented with a chance on goal, but his effort from the edge of the area sailed high over the bar, without troubling Rose in the Walsall goal.

The Saddlers won a corner, five minutes before the break, as Alex Baptiste turned the ball behind. The cross in from Holden found Zak Jules, who looked all but certain to score, however his headed effort sailed narrowly wide of the upright, and the score remained unchanged.

In the forty-second minute, Bolton thought they had doubled their advantage, as George Thomason picked out Kioso, who crossed the ball in for Delfouneso who poked the ball home. However, the linesman had spotted a player in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.

Just two minutes later, with the ball back up at the other end, the Saddlers had more luck, as a lovely ball in from Cameron Norman found Elijah Adebayo, who beat his man and headed home to level the scores.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, but neither side was able to create further chances and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores tied at one-goal apiece.

-
HT
-
WALSALL
1 - 1
BOLTON

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Walsall got the action back underway. It was Bolton who enjoyed the brighter opening spell though, winning a corner just four minutes in, after some good work from Kioso and Delouneso lead to a low cross being turned behind. However, the flag-kick came to nothing and the scores remained tied.

The visiting side went on to win a free-kick just outside the area, moments later, as Thomason was fouled, but Crawford was unable to beat the wall.

Walsall soon had the ball back at the other end, where McDonald and Holden combined well, with the latter unable to keep his effort on goal on target.

With fifty-six minutes on the clock, Ryan Delaney became the first player to see the yellow card waved his way, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Norman.

The resulting free-kick saw McDonald roll the ball to Holden, who fired through the crowded box and into the back of the net to put Walsall ahead for the first time in the game.

Bolton looked to respond quickly to falling a goal behind, but Antoni Sarcevic's fifty-eighth minute shot was blocked by James Clarke, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

There was a brief halt to proceedings as we reached the hour mark, allowing Thomason to receive treatment for a knock to the face. He was soon back on his feet though, and able to continue.

The Saddlers almost added to their tally in the sixty-fifth minute, but some superb goalkeeping from Gilks denied first Adebayo then Dan Scarr at the rebound.

The visitors were quick to get the ball back into the danger zone at the other end, but Kioso scuffed his shot, sending the ball well wide of the upright.

With seventy-four minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Emmanuel Osadebe was replaced by Josh Gordon.

Within seconds of his introduction into the game, Josh Gordon picked up a yellow card for a foul on Ricardo Santos.

Just three minutes later, Ricardo Santos joined Gordon in the referee's notebook, picking up a booking after getting himself involved in an argument.

With seventy-nine minutes played, Wanderers opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Alister Crawford the man to make way as Arthur Gnahoua took to the field.

Just three minutes after his introduction, Gnahoua forced a second change for the visitors. An apparent shoulder injury seeing Arthur replaced by Ronan Darcy.

The visiting side continued to seek an equalising goal, after the changes, winning a corner seven minutes from time as a Delfouneso effort was turned behind. The flag-kick coming to nothing as the Saddlers defences stood firm.

Five minutes from time, Walsall chose to make their second change of the afternoon, as Wes McDonald made way for Hayden White.

Just two minutes later, Bolton opted to make a third change to their line-up, with George Thomason sitting out the final few moments, as Tom White took his place.

Five additional minutes were added to end the match, during which time Walsall made a third change to their team, as they looked to see out the game with the score-line unchanged. Elijah Adebayo the man to make way as Caolan Lavery entered the fray.

There was little further action of note, as the Saddlers held on to their slender lead to take all three points. A decent display from the home team, who strung together their first back-to-back victories of the season, leaving hope that this may mark a turning point in their fortunes.

-
FT
-
WALSALL
2 - 1
BOLTON
Adebayo (44')
Holden (57')
Doyle (13')

VENUE
Banks's Stadium
REFEREE
Michael Salisbury

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