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Match Report: Walsall 2 Salford City 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday’s League Two clash between the Saddlers and Salford City.
The Saddlers were looking to secure their first win in four league games as they welcomed Salford City to the Banks's on Saturday afternoon.

After earning a point against title-chasing Exeter City last weekend, the Saddlers proved they are capable of taking the game to their opponents but must become better at taking their chances as they should have taken all three points against the Grecians.
 
Salford City got the match underway, but after a meandering run upfield, Kieran Phillips slotted the ball past Tom King in the visitors goal with just twenty-eight seconds on the clock to put his side ahead. A perfect start for Walsall.

The game settled a little as it continued, with Walsall continuing to see much of the ball, though they were unable to replicate the opening minute antics as Salford got organised and thwarted any further chances on goal.

Nine minutes in, struggling to gain ground, Manny Monthe attempted an ambitious long range effort, from around thirty-five yards out, but he was unable to keep the shot on target.

A corner followed moments later as the Saddlers continued to press, which Jack Earing swung into the box, with Monthe unlucky to not make a connection.

Salford grew into the game as it continued, seeing more of the ball and forcing their opposition into a more defensive role, with Ashley Hunter creating their first chance of the game and forcing a save from Walsall shot-stopper, Jack Rose in the sixteenth minute.

Another chance following for Salford two minutes later as they continued to show signs of improvement, but Jason Lowe's effort from outside the area sailed wide of Rose's upright.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides happy to knock the ball about, without creating much forwards momentum.

As we reached the half hour mark, the first yellow card of the game was shown to Joss Labadie; a foul on Hunter causing Walsall captain receive a caution.

Salford won a corner in the thirty-fourth minute, as they continued to seek a route back onto level terms. The ball was played deep to Jordan Turnbull who was waiting at the back post, but he failed to make a proper connection with it and the Saddlers one-goal lead remained intact.

A break from the Saddlers, five minutes later, almost saw the home side double their advantage, but after some good play from Osadebe to set Brendan Kiernan, King got down well to deny the goal.

Walsall continued to press, seeking a second goal to take into the break, but King was again on hand in the forty-first minute to deny George Miller. In the build-up, Labadie was fouled inside the area, which lead to his manager, Matthew Taylor appealing for a penalty and receiving a yellow card for his troubles.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half. There was little further action of note, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments, with Walsall leading by one-goal-to-nil.

HT
WFC
1-1
SCFC
 
The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Walsall got the match action back underway. The Saddlers began this half as they had the first, with an early shot on goal; Phillips picking up the ball inside the area and firing goal-wards after both Kiernan and Osadebe saw chances blocked, but King was able to save the low effort to deny the hosts a second goal.

Walsall continued to look the brighter of the two teams, and though Salford won a corner in the fiftieth minute, as Earing turned the ball out of play, it was the hosts who created the next chance on goal, as Stephen Ward attempted a shot from outside the area, which was ultimately blocked.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the fifty-seventh minute, allowing Labadie to receive treatment following a collision with Conor McAleny, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

The game settled back into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides enjoying spells with the ball, whilst creating very little of note.

The visiting team were presented with an opportunity to level the scores in the sixty-fifth minute, as Liam Shephard looked to play in Josh Morris, but the latter saw his effort deflected out of play for a corner, which came to nothing.

With sixty-nine minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make the first change of the afternoon, replacing Joss Labadie with Sam Perry for the final twenty minutes of the game.

In the seventy-third minute, Matthew Lund became only the second player to receive a caution, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Earing. The resulting free-kick saw Osadebe fire goal-wards, forcing King to race across goal to palm the effort clear.

Just one minute later, City opted to make their first change of the game, with Conor McAleny making way for Kelly N'Mai.

Salford drew level shortly after the substitution, winning a corner in the seventy-eighth minute, which was crossed into the box by Hunter where Ashley Eastham was waiting to nod home from close range.

One minute after his assist, Ashley Hunter joined those listed in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Hayden White.

In the eighty-first minute, both sides took the opportunity to make changes to their teams. Walsall replacing Kieran Phillips with Tyrese Shade for the final few minutes, as Salford made their final changes of the afternoon, replacing Matthew Lund and Josh Morris with Matty Willock and Donald Love.

Walsall were presented with a chance to reinstate their earlier lead in the eighty-third minute, as Miller took the ball from Eastham inside the area and fired goal-wards, but his effort sailed high and wide.

With eighty-four minutes on the clock, the home side opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, with Brendan Kiernan being replaced by Conor Wilkinson for the closing moments of the game.

Six additional minutes were added to end the game, and five minutes into the allotted time, Wilkinson, making his return following a hamstring injury, reinstated the Saddlers earlier lead. Miller with a delightful flick finding Conor who cut inside and fired home into the bottom corner.

A late yellow card for Rollin Menayese followed, as he was booked for time-wasting, but that would be the final action of note and the Saddlers claimed all three points as goals from Phillips and Wilkinson bookended the game.

FT
WFC
2-1
SCFC
Phillips (1')
Wilkinson (90+5') 
Eastham (78')
 
REFEREE
Trevor Kettle
ATT / AT
5,005 - Banks's Stadium
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