Match Report: Walsall 1 Crawley Town 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Crawley Town.
After suffering their third defeat in as many games, including last weekend's Emirates FA Cup - Second Round defeat to Swindon Town, Walsall returned to action on Tuesday evening and looked to earn three much-needed points.

The match got off to something of a slow start, with both sides taking a while to settle into the game, though four minutes in, Crawley Town's James Tilley did find himself in shooting range, firing an effort high over the crossbar from ten yards out.

Eleven minutes into the contest, Tony Craig became the first player to see yellow, as he felled Conor Wilkinson as he raced to latch onto a high cross from Stephen Ward. The resulting free-kick, saw an effort on goal from the fouled man blocked.

The visiting side has soon worked the ball back to the other end, where Tom Nichols was on hand to work the ball into the area, but the Saddlers defences stood firm to ensure there would be nothing for goalkeeper, Carl Rushworth to do.

Walsall were soon back on the attack, with Ward playing the ball to Brendan Kiernan, whose low effort on goal was well stopped by Crawley 'keeper, Glenn Morris.

Crawley began to show signs of promise as the game wore on, with Archie Davies seeing an effort from outside the box blocked in the twentieth minute, moments before Mark Marshall connected with a Tilley cross, sending the ball narrowly wide of the upright.

Marshall won possession again two minutes later, drifting inside before firing a low effort in on goal from the edge of the area, which narrowly missed the target.

The visiting side felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the twenty-sixth minute, as they believed Marshall had been brought down inside the box, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

With thirty-four minutes on the clock, Crawley were forced to make an early change to their team, as Jake Hessenthaler picked up a knock and was unable to continue. Will Ferry the man to take his place.

Crawley continued to look the more the two sides to open the scoring, with Marshall firing wide in the thirty-fifth minute, moments before Jack Powell skied an effort.

With thirty-nine minutes on the clock, Joss Labadie became the second player to see yellow, as he was cautioned following a foul on Powell. Tilley crossed the resulting free-kick into the box, but the Walsall defences were alert to the danger and the ball was turned behind for a corner, which came to nothing as Nichols fired wide.

Forty-one minutes into the contest, Walsall took the lead. A lovely pass from Emmanuel Osadebe finding Kiernan, who slotted the ball coolly beyond Morris to put his side ahead.

Three additional minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time, Crawley levels the scores. A poor touch from Jack Earing allowing George Francomb to work the ball to Nichols who burst into the box and fired low past Rushworth.

That would be the final action of note, and the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments, with the scores level at the break.

HT
WFC
1-1
CTFC
 
The sides returned unchanged following the interval, and the match got back underway. The second-half got off to a slow start, with much of the action centred around the midfield area, as neither side was able to break through their opposition defences.

With fifty-one minutes on the clock, Rollin Menayese joined those on a caution, as he was shown the yellow card following a foul on Nichols.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the fifty-third minute, allowing Joss Labadie to receive treatment, but it was soon determined that the Walsall captain would be unable to continue and Liam Kinsella was brought on in his place.

The two teams continued to cancel one another out as the match continued, with Tilley forced to try his luck from distance in the fifty-sixth minute as they struggled to find a way through the Saddlers defences, but Rushworth was alert to the danger and gathered with ease.

As we reached the hour mark, Crawley opted to make their second change of the evening, with Mark Marshall departing in favour of Tyler Frost.

The Saddlers also took the opportunity to introduce some fresh legs a minute later, as Kieran Phillips made way for George Miller.

Walsall almost reinstated their earlier lead two minutes after the change, as the ball fell kindly for Menayese six yards from goal, but Craig was well placed to clear his effort off the line to keep the scores level.

The hosts continued to seek a goal as the match continued, with Miller firing goal-wards from twenty yards out in the seventieth minute, shortly after Wilkinson saw an effort sail wide, but his shot was easily saved by a well placed 'keeper.

The Saddlers went close again two minutes later, as Kiernan worked his way into shooting range, but his effort failed to find the target as the ball sailed inches over the crossbar.

In the seventy-fourth minute, both sides opted to make their third and final changes of the evening, with James Tilley making way for the visitors, who introduced Amrit Bansal-McNulty in his place, whilst Emmanuel Osadebe departed for the hosts, with Otis Khan replacing him.

With eighty-one minutes on the clock, Liam Kinsella joined those already listed in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Bansal-McNulty.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with neither side really offering much to test their opposition defences.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the eighty-seventh minute, allowing Ludwig Francillette to receive treatment, though he was soon back on his feet, and although appearing to be in some discomfort, able to continue.

Four additional minutes were added to end the evenings entertainment, but there was little further action of note, and the game ended with the sides sharing the spoils, having secured just one-goal-apiece.

FT
WFC
1-1
CTFC
Kiernan (41') 
Nichols (45+1')
VENUE
Banks's Stadium
ATTENDANCE
3,609 (73)
REFEREE
James Bell
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