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Match Report: Walsall 0 Doncaster Rovers 0 - Rovers Win 3-4 on Penalties

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's Carabao Cup - Round One clash between Walsall and Doncaster Rovers.
Entering their first cup outing of the 2021/22 campaign, both the Saddlers and Rovers were looking to bounce back from opening day defeats as they seek to build momentum with so many games still to come.

After a minute of silence was observed in memory of those who have passed away over the last eighteen months, whilst crowds have been absent due to the pandemic, the match got underway.

Walsall began the game brightly, with a lovely ball into the box from Conor Wilkinson being turned goal-wards by Emmanuel Osadebe just two minutes in, but the midfielder was unable to keep his effort down and the ball sailed out of play.

Doncaster Rovers had soon worked the ball up to the other end, where Omar Bogle also struggled to keep an effort on target, after some good play from Cameron John played him in.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Wilkinson again causing problems for the Rovers defences in the sixth minute, as he looked to play in Tyrese Shade.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Shade was also unable to turn Wilkinson's cross home, as a deflection turned his effort narrowly wide of the upright. The resulting corner and the one which followed, ultimately coming to nothing too, as Rollin Menayese turned the ball from the second flag-kick wide.

Both sides settled into the game as it continued, with neither team really able to trouble their opposition defences, though thirteen minutes in, a Bogle effort from some distance was denied by Walsall shot-stopper, Carl Rushworth.

Walsall continued to look largely the brighter of the two teams, with Zak Mills looking to play Kieran Phillips through on goal in the twenty-first minute, but the latter was deemed to have been in an offside position and nothing would come of the move.

Rovers did see more of the ball as the match continued, winning a corner in the twenty-eighth minute, as Menayese turned a cross out of play, but nothing would come of the set-piece.

A Walsall corner followed four minutes later, as Shade forced the Rovers defences to put the ball behind, and the hosts caused more problems for their opposition than they had managed. Osadebe swinging the ball into the box for Wilkinson, whose goal-bound header forced a superb save from Doncaster 'keeper, Pontus Dahlberg.

The Saddlers continued to pile on the pressure, with Phillips seeing a chance denied in the thirty-fourth minute by Rovers captain, Tom Anderson, who did well to block the effort.

With thirty-six minutes on the clock, Ben Close became the first player to see yellow, as he was cautioned for a foul on Wilkinson.

The home team continued to see much of the ball as we raced towards the break, though they struggled to create anything to further test their visitors defences.

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
WFC
0-0
DRFC
 
The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the match action resumed. Walsall continued to look the brighter of the two teams during the opening few minutes of the second-half, with Tom Leak looking to play Shade through on goal just four minutes in, but the latter was found in an offside position and the chance went begging.

The Saddlers should have found themselves a goal to the good in the fifty-second minute, with Wilkinson passing to Phillips, who did well to beat his man and get a shot away, only to see Ro-Shaun Williams and Dahlberg combine to keep the effort out.

In the fifty-sixth minute, Walsall were forced to make an early change to their line-up as captain, Joss Labadie was forced from the pitch with an injury which he could not play through. Liam Kinsella the man to come on in his place.

The visiting side had won a corner moments before the Walsall substitution, as Leak turned the ball behind. After the change was completed, the set-piece was taken, but Dan Gardner was unable to keep his effort on target, firing wide.

As we reached the hour mark, Emmanuel Osadebe became the second recipient of a yellow card, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Bogle.

With sixty-one minutes on the clock, Doncaster opted to make their first change of the evening, with Cameron John making way for Branden Horton.

Walsall soon had the ball back in the danger area, as they continued to look the stronger of the two sides; Wilkinson again causing problems for the Rovers defences as he crossed the ball in for Ash Taylor, whose effort from the centre of the box sailed high and wide of the target.

It wasn't long before Doncaster had worked the ball back to the other end though as the game grew in intensity, with Rushworth forced to tip the ball wide of the far post to deny Horton.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a brighter spell, winning a corner in the sixty-ninth minute, as a Ben Close effort was blocked. The flag-kick coming to nothing as Taylor conceded a second, which the Saddlers were also able to successfully defend.

With seventy minutes played, Walsall chose to make a second substitution, with Tyrese Shade making way for Jack Earing.

Two minutes later, Rovers followed suit, as an injury forced John Bostock from the game, with Anthony Greaves taking his place.

Doncaster continued to see plenty of the ball as the match continued, with Kyle Knoyle seeing a right-footed effort blocked in the seventy-fourth minute, but only as far as Horton, whose effort on goal drew a save from Rushworth.

With seventy-five minutes on the clock, the visiting side opted to make a third change to their line-up, with Omar Bogle making way for Tiago Cukur.

A series of Doncaster corners followed as the visiting side really began to dominate, with both Aidan Barlow and Cukur seeing chances go begging in the process.

Seventy-nine minutes in, with the prospect of penalties looming large, the Saddlers opted to make their third change of the evening, with Tom Leak being replaced by Stephen Ward.

There was little further action of note, as time ebbed away, until, in the eighty-eighth minute, Anthony Greaves was shown the red card, for a poor challenge on Earing.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game, but aside from a handful of free-kicks and late Walsall corner which Kinsella saw saved, there was little further action of note and the game ended with the scores still tied, forcing a round of penalty kicks to decide the winner.

A total of fourteen penalties were needed to separate the sides as Gardner, Cukur, Ed Williams, Osadebe, Earing, Kiernan and Kinsella all saw their efforts missed or saved. Wilkinson, Phillips and Ward converted their spot-kicks for Walsall, but it was not enough as Close, Barlow, Ward, Anderson and Knoyle ensured Doncaster Rovers would advance in the competition, whilst Walsall bowed out at the first hurdle.

FT
WFC
0-0
DRFC
PENALTIES
Wilkinson SCORED
Phillips SCORED
Osadebe MISS
Earing MISS
Kiernan MISS
Ward SCORED
Kinsella MISS
PENALTIES
Gardner MISS
Close SCORES
Cukur MISS
Ed Williams MISS
Barlow SCORED
Anderson SCORED
Knoyle SCORED
VENUE
Banks's Stadium
ATTENDANCE
2,384 (310)

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