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Match Report: Stevenage 3 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday's League Two meeting between the Saddlers and Stevenage.
Walsall arrived at the match on the back of a three-all draw with Newport County and in search of a fourth game without defeat as they hoped to earn their first win of the new year.

The match got off to a lively start, as just twenty-five seconds after the referee got the contest underway, Rollin Menayese, in his first game since becoming a full-time Saddler, connected with a Luke O'Neill cross and turned the ball into his own net to gift Stevenage an early lead.

The home team continued to enjoy a bright spell, and just eight minutes into the contest, they doubled their advantage, as Chris Lines connected with a Jake Reeves cross at the back post and beat Walsall shot-stopper, Carl Rushworth with a headed effort.

Stevenage continued to look the more likely to score the game's third goal as they continued to press, but Lines was unable to turn Jake Reeves' sixteenth minute cross home.

Walsall saw much more of the ball as the game continued, but struggled to create anything to test their hosts defences, with their best chance to reduce the deficit falling to Stephen Ward in the twenty-second minute, following a corner, but the chance came to nothing as the defenders' effort was blocked.

With twenty-seven minutes on the clock, Rollin Menayese became the first player to see yellow, as he received a caution for a foul on Luke Norris.

Moments after the booking, the Saddlers looked destined to halve the deficit. A corner kick played into the box by Otis Khan, being headed out as far as Ward who struck the ball sweetly, only to see another effort blocked, with the resulting flag-kick coming to nothing.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the thirty-second minute, allowing the Walsall 'keeper to receive treatment following a collision inside the area, but fortunately for the Saddlers, Rushworth was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

With thirty-five minutes on the clock, Stevenage captain, Scott Cuthbert joined Menayese in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on George Miller.

Forty-one minutes into the contest, Stevenage were forced to make an early change to their line-up, as Ed Upson picked up an injury and was unable to continue, with Michael Bostwick the man to take his place.

The hosts were presented with an opportunity to further increase their advantage moments after the change, but Lines effort from range sailed wide of the upright.

Four additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but there was little further action of note and the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Stevenage leading by two-goals-to-nil.

HT
SFC
-
WFC
 
The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the action got back underway. Stevenage began the second-haf brightly, with Andrade working the ball into the area for Norris just one minute in, but the striker was unable to beat Rushworth with his effort.

Walsall began to show signs of promise as they settled back into the game, with Ward firing wide from the edge of the area in the forty-ninth minute, before Conor Wilkinson did the same two minutes later.

As we reached the hour mark, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with George Miller making way for Kieran Phillips.

The Saddlers won a free-kick in a dangerous spot moments later, which Wilkinson attempted to turn home, but his twenty-five yard effort sailed narrowly over the crossbar.

The visiting side continued to show signs of improvement, with Jack Earing working his way into the area in the sixty-sixth minute, before firing inches wide from a tight angle, before Khan saw an effort blocked moments later.

Stevenage opted to make their second change of the game in the sixty-eighth minute, with Bruno Andrade making way for Charlie Carter.

Twenty minutes from time, the Saddlers pulled a goal back, as Brendan Kiernan latched onto an Earing cross and turned the ball into the bottom corner to secure his fifth goal of the season.

Luke Prosser joined those already named in the referee's notebook, in the seventy-fourth minute, as he was shown the yellow card for a foul on Khan. Two minutes later, Conor Wilkinson was added to the growing list of names, receiving a caution for a late challenge on Ben Coker.

The Saddlers continued to press, as they sought an equaliser, but Stevenage 'keeper, Christy Pym was alert to the danger in the seventy-eighth minute, as Wilkinson attempted to score from the edge of the area, and ensured his side would remain ahead, moments before Menayese turned a Khan corner wide.

With eighty-one minutes on the clock, the Saddlers made their second change of the afternoon, replacing Brendan Kiernan with Tyrese Shade for the final ten minutes or so. Stevenage also took the opportunity to make a change to their line-up, with Luke Norris making way for Terence Vancooten.

The home side almost recovered their earlier two-goal cushion five minutes from time, but Carter's powerfully struck effort on goal cannoned off the crossbar.

Four additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time, Carter saw an effort deflected over the crossbar by Zak Mills, before Jake Taylor put the game to bed, firing home from close range.

A disappointing display from the Saddlers, who, despite seeing plenty of the ball, failed to really get going during the first-half, and weren't much better during the second forty-five.

FT
SFC
3-1
WFC
Menayese OG (1')
Lines (8')
Taylor (90+4') 
Kiernan (70')
 
 
VENUE
Lamex Stadium
ATTENDANCE
2,167 (338)
REFEREE
James Oldham
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