Match Report: Walsall 0 Exeter City 2 Match Report: Walsall 0 Exeter City 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 0 Exeter City 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday's League Two meeting between the Saddlers and Exeter City.
Walsall returned to action on Saturday afternoon as they took on the visiting Grecians in the 'Matt Taylor Derby'.
Winless in their last three outings, the Saddlers were in dire need of a return to winning ways as pressure is beginning to mount following a string of poor performances.

Walsall began the match brightly, winning a corner just seconds into the contest, as Cheick Diabate was forced to turn the ball out of play, but nothing would come of the early flag-kick and Exeter City had soon worked the ball up to the other end, where they forced Walsall shot-stopper, Carl Rushworth to make his first save of the afternoon, with the shot-stopper well placed to deny Pierce Sweeney.

Exeter continued to test the Walsall defences, forcing a magnificent double save from Rushworth in the eighth minute, as the 'keeper prevented two Offrande Zanzala headed efforts finding the target after some good play from Josh Key got the ball into the box.

There was no let up for the under fire 'keeper, who was called upon again in the ninth minute, as Exeter captain, Matt Jay fired goal-wards from the centre of the box, but Rushworth remained unbeaten as he got down well and cleared the effort, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Things settled a little as the game continued, and there was a brief halt to proceedings as we reached the quarter hour mark, allowing Zanzala to receive treatment from the medical team. He was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

However, it was soon determined that he would not be able to play on, and Pádraig Amond took the place of Offrande Zanzala with just seventeen minutes on the clock.

The Grecians continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides as the game continued, winning a corner in the twentieth minute as Rushworth was forced to knock the ball out of play ahead of an on-rushing Key. The ball in from the flag-kick looked good, but Cheick's header goal-wards was easily held by the Saddlers shot-stopper.

Up at the other end, two minutes later, the home side looked to test the City 'keeper, with Jack Earing delivering a cross into the box for Conor Wilkinson, but the strikers connection with the ball was poor, allowing Grecian shot-stopper, Cameron Dawson to make an easy save.

There was another pause in proceedings in the thirty-second minute, allowing Stephen Ward to receive treatment, but it soon became apparent that he would be unable to continue, forcing Walsall to make their first change of the afternoon. Zak Mills the man to take his place.

Walsall won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the thirty-seventh minute, as Wilkinson was fouled by Sam Stubbs, but the chance would come to nothing as the striker sent a curling effort wide.

The visiting team had soon worked the ball back to the other end, where Timothée Dieng combined with Jevani Brown to work the ball to Matt Jay inside the area, but the captain's effort from close range failed to test Rushworth and it sailed over the crossbar.

As we reached the forty-fifth minute, Exeter won a corner as a cross from Jake Caprice was turned behind. Archie Collins crossed the ball into the box from the flag-kick, and Dieng rose highest to head home and break the deadlock as the board went up to indicate that four additional minutes would be played before the break.

There was little further action of note, though Rollin Menayese became the first player to see yellow in the forty-eighth minute, as he picked up a booking for a foul on Brown, moments before the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Exeter leading by one-goal-to-nil at the break.

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and the match got back underway. Just one minute after the re-start, Sam Stubbs joined Menayese in the referee's notebook, as he picked up a caution for a foul on Wilkinson.

Exeter almost doubled their advantage in the forty-seventh minute, as a Jevani cross was deflected goal-wards by Hayden White, but fortunately for the Walsall man, the ball struck the crossbar and was then gathered by Rushworth, sparing his blushes.

Five minutes after the second-half began, Rollin Menayese received his marching orders as a second yellow card was brandished his way following a lunging tackle on Brown.

The Saddlers responded to the dismissal by making their second change of the afternoon in the fifty-sixth minute. Tyrese Shade the man to make way as George Miller joined the fray.

Walsall showed signs of promise as the game continued, winning a corner in the sixty-second minute, but nothing would come of the opportunity as Earing's cross was headed wide by captain, Joss Labadie.

The Grecians almost extended their lead in the seventy-first minute, but Brown's low cross into the box evaded his teammates, allowing the Saddlers to breathe a sigh of relief, as they remained within touching distance of their visitors.

Exeter continued to seek a second goal as the game continued, with Rushworth preventing Brown finding the back of the net from range in the seventy-fifth minute.

With seventy-six minutes on the clock, Hayden White joined those to have already seen their names taken by the referee, as he saw yellow for a foul on Jay.

The Saddlers opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon in the seventy-eighth minute, with Conor Wilkinson making way for Kieran Phillips.

City continued to press as time ticked on, with Rushworth pulling off another fine save in the eighty-fourth minute to deny Archie Collins, whose powerful strike looked destined to find the back of the net. However, Exeter had more luck from the resulting corner, which was swung into the box by Collins and headed home by Diabate to double the travelling sides advantage.

Cheick Diabate joined those already on a caution in the eighty-fifth minute, as he was booked for excessive celebration following his goal.

The Saddlers looked to narrow the gap in the eighty-sixth minute, but following some good work from Brendan Kiernan to create the chance, Phillips saw his shot on goal blocked by Stubbs, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game, but there was little further action of note, and the match was brought to it's conclusion with Exeter winning by two-goals-to-nil. Another disappointing display from the Saddlers, who showed early signs of promise but lacked discipline.

Dieng (44')
Diabate (84')
Banks's Stadium
Darren Handley
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