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Match Report: Walsall 1 Cheltenham Town 2

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's League Two clash between Walsall and Cheltenham Town.
Following the surprise departure of manager Darrell Clarke to Port Vale, Head Coach Brian Dutton took charge of his first game and looked to extend his side's unbeaten run to five games as they welcomed title-chasing Cheltenham Town to the Black Country.

Walsall got the action underway, and within three minutes they had opened the scoring, as Josh Gordon played the ball to Caolan Lavery, who found the net from distance to secure his fifth goal of the season.

Cheltenham Town set about trying to draw level quickly, with Matty Blair firing narrowly wide in the seventh minute.

The Saddlers were then presented with an opportunity to extend their lead in the eleventh minute, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Frank Vincent swung in for Max Melbourne, whose headed effort sailed inches wide of the upright.

The Robins soon created another chance themselves, with Callum Wright doing well to play in Alfie May, who perhaps took a little too long to compose himself, scuffing his effort which clipped the post before Mat Sadler cleared the danger.

The visiting side continued to see much of the ball as the game continued, though the Saddlers defences ensured they were unable to create any further chances of note.

With nineteen minutes on the clock, Walsall won the first corner of the game, as Charlie Raglan turned the ball out of play, swiftly followed by a second as Conor Thomas looked to clear the danger, with neither ultimately coming to anything for the hosts.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with the two sides largely cancelling each other out, until, in the thirty-fifth minute, a pass from Dan Scarr was intercepted by May, who set Sam Smith up with an easy conversion to level the scores.

The Saddlers looked to restore their lead immediately, with Lavery doing well to bring a Vincent cross down for Sadler, but Town 'keeper, Josh Griffiths was able to save the Walsall skippers attempt at the second time of asking to keep the scores tied.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, Cheltenham took the lead for the first time in the game, as debutant, Callum Wright, fired goal-wards from the edge of the area, beating a host of defenders with his effort as the ball sailed into the bottom corner.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but there was little further action of note, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with Cheltenham Town leading by two-goals-to-one at the break

-
HT
-
WALSALL
1-2
TOWN

The two teams returned unchanged, and Cheltenham got the match back underway. The Robins began the half brightly, with both May and Finn Azaz seeing fifth minute efforts blocked by the Saddlers defences.

The visiting side continued to look the more likely to score as the second-half continued apace, with Wright going close in the fifty-fifth minute, despite the Saddlers being the team to see more of the ball.

As we reached the hour mark, the Saddlers created their best chance of the half, as Gordon turned on the edge of the area before seeing his low effort deflected behind for a corner. Vincent swung the ball into the area from the flag-kick, with Gordon just managing to get a head to it, but seeing the effort sail wide of the far post.

Gordon continued to cause problems for the Cheltenham defences, winning another corner in the sixty-second minute as he looked to turn a Lavery cross home. Sadly, this too would come to nothing as the Robins stood firm.

The visiting side soon had the ball back at the other end, with Chris Hussey doing well to pick out Wright inside the area, however the latter's goal-ward header sailed high over the crossbar, without troubling Walsall shot-stopper, Liam Roberts.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, Cheltenham opted to make a double change to their line-up, as both Alfie May and Callum Wright made way in favour of George Lloyd and Indiana Vassilev.

Vassilev was quick to get involved, collecting the ball from Azaz in the seventy-second minute, before turning and firing a low effort goal-wards, forcing the Walsall 'keeper to make a diving save.

With seventy-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to mix things up, making a double change, as Caolan Lavery and Frank Vincent were replaced by Jack Nolan and Alfie Bates.

Just two minutes later, Cameron Norman became the first player to see his name entered into the referee's notebook, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Hussey.

The Saddlers continued to look for a route back into the game, with Wes McDonald a little unlucky to find only the side netting in the seventy-seventh minute, after a superb solo run into the box.

In the seventy-ninth minute, Alfie Bates joined Norman on a caution, as the substitute picked up a yellow card for a foul on Vassilev.

The Saddlers looked set to restore parity moments after the card was shown, as an error from the Cheltenham defences allowed Gordon in, however, Griffiths was alert to the danger and managed to get to the ball just ahead of the Walsall man.

Nine minutes from time, the home side opted to make a third change to their line-up, as Wes McDonald made way for Derick Osei Yaw.

Four minutes later, the Robins followed suit, making their third change of the evening. Sam Smith the man to make way as Andy Williams took his place.

Moments before the match officials indicated three additional minutes were to be played, the Saddlers almost levelled the scores, as a delightful ball from Nolan looked to have picked out Gordon, however, Griffiths was alert to the danger and pounced on the ball just ahead of the striker.

There was little further action of note, though Melbourne did head an effort goal-wards, forcing the Robins shot-stopper to gather, and the referee brought an end to the contest with Cheltenham still leading by two-goals-to-one. A disappointing evening from the Saddlers, who, as so often this season, failed to take their chances when presented with them.

-
FT
-
WALSALL
1-2
TOWN
Lavery (3')

Smith (35')
Wright (43')
VENUE
Banks's Stadium
REFEREE
David Webb

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