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Match Report: Port Vale 0 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday's League Two clash between Walsall and Port Vale.
Matthew Taylor's Saddlers arrived at the match on the back of last weekend's goalless draw with Rochdale and in search of a first win in four all-competition outings as they look to restart their recent climb towards the top half of the table.

Walsall began the game brightly, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position just two minutes into the contest as George Miller was fouled by Nathan Smith. Conor Wilkinson caused a few issues for Port Vale goalkeeper, Lucas Covolan with the set-piece, but the shot-stopper was able to recover and make the first save of the evening.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Miller seeing an effort from outside the box sail narrowly wide moments after their first chance of the evening was saved.

Rollin Menayese became the first player to receive a caution, just eleven minutes in, as the yellow card was brandished in his direction after a late challenge on David Amoo.

Walsall continued to test their hosts as the game continued, with captain, Joss Labadie doing well to win his side a free-kick in the seventeenth minute. Jack Earing swung the ball into the danger zone from the set-piece, where it was met by Miller, who was unable to keep his headed effort on target.

Wilkinson almost opened the scoring for the Saddlers in the twentieth minute, but after working himself into space, his effort on goal, from a tight angle, was parried onto the post and behind for a corner by an alert Covolan, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Walsall continued to look the brighter of the two sides as the match continued, winning another free-kick in the twenty-seventh minute, from which Wilkinson took aim, but his effort sailed over the crossbar, without really causing concern to the man between the sticks.

With twenty-nine minutes on the clock, the Saddlers finally found the breakthrough they had been seeking, as Hayden White and Wilkinson combined to play in Brendan Kiernan, whose shot from the right found the bottom corner.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle after the goal, with Port Vale beginning to see more of the ball, though neither side were able to create anything to further test their opposition.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, as Ben Garrity attempted to level the scores with an effort which sailed over the crossbar, but neither side created anything further of note, and the teams headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Walsall leading by one-goal-to-nil.

HT
PVFC
0-1
WFC
 
Port Vale opted to make a double change to their line-up as the sides returned from their break, with Dan Jones and David Worrall sitting out the second-half as former Saddler, Mal Benning and Devante Rodney took their places.

A series of fouls and free-kicks opened the second-half, but the first real chance of note fell to the recently introduced, Rodney, four minutes in, as he connected with a Tom Conlon cross and fired goal-wards from range, but the effort sailed high and wide and never looked likely to concern Walsall shot-stopper, Carl Rushworth.

With fifty-two minutes on the clock, James Gibbons became the second player to see his name taken by the referee, as he was booked for a late challenge on Stephen Ward.

Chaos descended following the booking, and Gibbons was soon joined in the referee's notebook, by Hayden White and Tom Conlon who were both cautioned for their protestations.

Fifty-four minutes into the contest, Walsall opted to make their first change of the evening, with Brendan Kiernan making way as Tyrese Shade joined the fray.

Vale went close to levelling the scores in the fifty-eighth minute, winning a free-kick thirty yards out, which Conlon used to take a shot at goal, but his effort narrowly cleared the crossbar and the scores remained unchanged.

Walsall suffered a similar fate four minutes later, as Shade looked to double his sides advantage with a direct free-kick, which also sailed narrowly over the bar.

The Saddlers continued to seek to put daylight between the two sides, with Miller attempting what could have been a spectacular overhead kick in the sixty-seventh minute, but the effort sailed wide, and likely would have been denied by Covolan in any event.

With sixty-eight minutes on the clock, Jack Earing joined the yellow card club, as he picked up a caution for a foul on James Gibbons.

Twenty minutes from time, the home side opted to make their third and final change of the evening, with Tom Pett making way for Jamie Proctor as they looked to draw themselves back onto level terms.

Two minutes later, the Saddlers decided it was time to make a second change to their team, with Conor Wilkinson being replaced by Liam Kinsella.

As play resumed, Earing was caught by Tom Conlon with a late challenge, which earned the Vale man a second yellow card. The hosts with it all to do, as they were reduced to ten men for the final eighteen minutes.

The Saddlers looked the more likely to score as play continued, with Miller seeing an effort sail wide of the target in the seventy-sixth minute, after some good work from Earing set him up.

Ten minutes from time, Walsall opted to make their third and final change of the evening, with Emmanuel Osadebe making way for Kieran Phillips.

Walsall seemed largely content just to play out the final ten minutes with no real action of note, as ten man Vale offered little to concern the visiting defences.

Five additional minutes were added to end the match, as Earing picked up the ball in midfield and drove goal-wards before shooting, but his effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar and his side remained just the one goal to the good.

One minute into added time, Nathan Smith joined those on a caution, as he saw yellow for a foul on Liam Kinsella. Tyrese Shade joined him in the book just one minute later, as the referee flashed the yellow card his way for time wasting.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the ninety-third minute, allowing White to receive treatment following a knock, but he was soon back on his feet and able to see out the remaining moments of the game.

That would be the final action of note, as the Saddlers held on to their slender lead to see out the game, and won by win by one-goal-to-nil. A decent performance from Walsall, whose opposition never really got off the mark.

FT
PVFC
0-1
WFC

Kiernan (29')
REFEREE
Simon Mather
ATT / AT
6,428 (1,564) - Vale Park
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