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Match Report: Tranmere Rovers 1 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' season-opening clash with Tranmere Rovers.
The Saddlers faithful made the trip to a wet and windy Prenton Park as their new-look team, which saw a new manager, back room and first-team recruited following a dismal 2020/21 campaign, played their first competitive game following an average pre-season.

Walsall got the first match of the new campaign underway, but it was Tranmere Rovers who enjoyed the brighter start to the game, winning a corner just four minutes in, as a Paul Glatzel effort was deflected wide. The flag-kick came to nothing as the Saddlers defences remained alert, with Emmanuel Osadebe on hand to clear.

The hosts continued to enjoy a bright spell, with Glatzel causing more problems for the Walsall defences in the seventh minute, as he played the ball through to Liam Feeney inside the box, but Ash Taylor was alert to the danger and blocked the effort on goal, with Manny Monthe then putting the ball out of play; the resulting corner coming to nothing.

The Saddlers were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position in the eleventh minute, as Ryan Watson fouled Joss Labadie. Stephen Ward fired an effort in from the set-piece, but was unable to find the target.

With fifteen minutes on the clock, Ash Taylor became the first player to receive a booking, as he saw yellow for a foul on Feeney.

Tranmere soon had the ball back in the danger zone, with some nice work from Emmanuel Dieseruvwe setting Callum McManaman through on goal, but Monthe was able to get across just in time to block the shot.

The Saddlers continued to defend well, with Taylor on hand to block a Glatzel effort in the twenty-first minute, before the visiting side launched a counter-attack, from which they won a corner, though the flag-kick ultimately came to nothing as the inswinging effort from Osadebe was headed clear.

Walsall continued to see more of the ball as the game continued, with Zak Mills presented with an opportunity to open the scoring in the twenty-fourth minute, though a deflection ensured the scores remained tied.

Unperturbed, the Saddlers continued to press, with some lovely work from Stephen Ward setting up Osadebe in the twenty-sixth minute, but Tom Davies ensured no goal would result as he deflected the effort out of play, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Things slowed a little as we passed the half hour mark, with both sides enjoying time on the ball without troubling their opposition defences, though in the thirty-sixth minute, Tyrese Shade and Brendan Kiernan combined to create a chance for the Saddlers, but the latter's effort on goal was blocked.

Back at the other end, five minutes before the break, Jay Spearing saw an opening and attempted to find the target from some distance, but his effort failed to trouble Walsall shot-stopper, Carl Rushworth as it sailed well wide of his goal.

With forty-two minutes on the clock, Callum McManaman joined Taylor in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a booking for simulation.

One additional minute was added to end the first-half, but there was no further action of note, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores still tied.

HT
TRFC
0-0
WFC
 
The teams returned unchanged after the break, and Tranmere got the second-half underway. The hosts began the half brightly, winning a corner kick just five minutes in as Labadie was forced to put the ball out of play. The set-piece saw Peter Clarke get on the end of the inswinging cross, but he was unable to find the target with a headed effort.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the fifty-third minute, whilst a change in fourth official was organised, as one of the assistant referees was forced to step aside with what appeared to be an injury to his hamstring.

As play resumed, McManamon found himself with space to shoot. His effort was palmed away by Rushworth for a corner, which the Saddlers defences were able to clear.

There was another short stoppage as we reached the hour mark, allowing Monthe to receive treatment, but he was soon back on his feet and able to play on.

The Saddlers began to enjoy a brighter spell as the game continued, with Shade combining well with Liam Kinsella to force a late block from Davies, with both the resulting corner, and the one which followed that, coming to nothing as the hosts defended well. The visiting side continued to test their opposition defences, with Taylor forcing a save moments later.

With sixty-four minutes on the clock, Rovers opted to make the first change of the afternoon, with Paul Glatzel making way for former Saddler, Kieron Morris.

In the sixty-seventh minute, Tom Davies became the third player to see yellow, as his name was added to the book for a late challenge on Brendan Kiernan.

Four minutes later, the Saddlers chose to make their first change of the game, as Brendan Kiernan was asked to make way in favour of Huddersfield loanee, Kieran Phillips.

The hosts could have opened the scoring moments after the change was completed, as Dieseruvwe got on the end of a Feeney cross and headed goal-wards, but Rushworth was well placed and gathered with relative ease.

In the seventy-third minute, Tranmere had more luck in front of goal, as McManaman got on the end of a lovely cross and fired past the Saddlers shot-stopper to gift his team a slender lead with time fast running out.

The home side could have doubled their advantage ten minutes from time, after a relatively flat spell, but Feeney's effort on goal was well blocked by Mills, and the resulting corner came to nothing.

With eighty-three minutes played, the Saddlers opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Liam Kinsella making way for Jack Earing.

The substitute looked to make an almost instant impact, crossing the ball in for Shade, whose pull back found Labadie in good position, but the midfielders first time effort sailed well wide of the target.

With eighty-six minutes on the clock, Tranmere were reduced to ten men, as Chris Merrie was shown the red card for a poor challenge on Shade.

The incident also lead to Joe Murphy receiving a yellow card, for arguing following the brandishing of the aforementioned red card.

The hosts responded to the sending off by making a double change to their line-up, with Liam Feeney and Callum McManaman being replaced by Joe Maguire and Sam Foley.

As seven minutes were added to end the game, the Saddlers went close to levelling the scores as a Wilkinson effort sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

Two minutes into the added seven, Joss Labadie joined those already listed in the referees notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for arguing, following the awarding of a free-kick for a foul by the player on Dieseruvwe.

The Saddlers won a corner four minutes into stoppage time, as Foley turned the ball out of play, but nothing would come of the opportunity and the hosts remained ahead.

The Saddlers saw one final chance to take something from the game, as Monthe headed the ball into the path of Taylor, but the defenders effort sailed over the bar moments before the final whistle sounded. Tranmere holding on to take all three points, with a one-goal-to-nil victory.

A disappointing end to the first game of the season, but plenty of positives to be found for the long campaign ahead.

FT
TRFC
1-0
WFC
McManaman (73') 
 
REFEREE
CARL BROOK
ATTENDANCE
7,728 - PRENTON PARK

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