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Pre-Season: Cheltenham Town 2 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' pre-season clash with Cheltenham Town.
Arriving at the match in the back of a comfortable win over Kidderminster Harriers, the Saddlers faced last season's League Two champions in their final match ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

The Saddlers backline had to be alert during the opening few moments as Alfie May looked to break into the box, but the forward was thwarted by Manny Monthé who not only took the ball but sent a dangerous ball into the path of Conor Wilkinson. Conor was able to control the ball, but his shot was tame as the score remained nil-nil.

Cheltenham's first shot came via Ellis Chapman, who was afforded a little too much space as he unleashed an effort from just outside the area. Thankfully, for goalkeeper Carl Rushworth, the effort was poor and cleared the bar.

Summer signing Conor Wilkinson continued to be an issue for the home defence as he forced a block to win the first flag-kick of the afternoon. The resulting corner came to noting, but a positive start for the team in green.

After a spell of midfield combat, the Saddlers looked to break on the counter as Stephen Ward and Kieran Phillips combined to pick out Emmanuel Osadebe on the edge of the area, but his curving shot crept just wide of the Robins' goal.

Cheltenham were soon on the attack and saw a Ben Tozer cross find Will Boyle at the back post, but he was unable to open the scoring as a looping header was tipped around the post by An alert Ash Taylor for a Town corner, which came to nothing.

The Saddlers' next opportunity had a touch of fortune about it, as Kieran Phillips forced Town goalkeeper Owen Evans into a rash clearance, with his kick rebounding off the attacker before going just wide of the gaping goal.

Walsall thought they'd opened the scoring just after the thirty-minute mark as Emmanuel Osadebe's sweet cross was headed home by an advanced Ash Taylor, but his happiness was short-lived as the offside flag was raised.

The home side's next goal-scoring opportunity came via Alfie May, who did well to create some space on the edge of the box but could only send a tame effort  straight at Walsall's on loan Brighton goalkeeper Carl Rushworth.

Matthew Taylor's side almost opened the scoring with just moments of the first-half remaining, as Conor Wilkinson sent a well-judged cross towards the far post, where strike partner Kieran Phillips was able to meet the ball before seeing a header rattle the woodwork. So close for the impressive Saddlers.

HT
CTFC
0-0
WFC
 
Both teams made a change at the break. Walsall's switch saw Jack Rose taking Carl Rushworth's place between the sticks, Whilst Ben Tozer was replaced by Charlie Raglan for the home side.

Despite all the Saddlers' attacking endeavour it was the home side who would go on to grab the opening goal of the game as Ellis Chapman's diagonal ball found Matty Blair in space, the winger went on to cut inside before seeing an effort take a slight deflection on the way into the back of the net.

Despite going behind, the Saddlers continued to demonstrate plenty of attacking endeavour with the defence pushing much higher than last season's squad with Matthew Taylor seemingly keen for his team to press the ball.

Cheltenham were almost allowed in behind, as some less-than-alert defending saw Andy Williams bear down on goal. Thankfully, for the Saddlers, Manny Monthé was able to deny the striker with a well-timed tackle.

Unfortunately for the Reds they weren't able to deny their hosts a second goal for long as Chris Hussey's cross saw substitute Charlie Raglan reach the ball ahead of Jack Rose before heading home to double his side's lead.

Shortly after the goal, Walsall went on to make their second change of the half as Jack Earing came on in place of Brendan Kiernan.

Some more sloppy play at the back almost saw Cheltenham add a third, as Alfie May was afforded far too much space and time to get a shot away. His effort drifted past the post, but shouldn't have been allowed to happen.

Back at the other end, and Walsall forced a save out of Owen Evans as Conor Wilkinson sent a looping header towards goal. Evans was ultimately able to tip the ball over the bar, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Soon after the corner, the home side made another change as Elliot Bonds cam on in place of Conor Thomas before George Lloyd took the place of Andy Williams in attack.

The Saddlers continued their push for their first goal of the game and went close via Emmanuel Osadebe as the attacking midfielder forced Owen Evans into a save with his legs. Close, but not close enough.

Walsall made another change with around five minutes of the match remaining as Joe Willis came on for Kieran Phillips, a change in formation for the Reds.

There were no further goals or chances of note as the Saddlers ended their pre-season campaign with a defeat, although there were plenty of positives to build upon, especially during the opening forty-five.

FT
CTFC
2-0
WFC
Blair (51')
Raglan (67') 
 
 
VENUE
Jonny-Rocks Stadium
ATTENDANCE
TBC

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