Match Report: Walsall 3 Hartlepool United 1 Match Report: Walsall 3 Hartlepool United 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 3 Hartlepool United 1

Here is our Match Report from Saturday's League Two meeting between the Saddlers and Hartlepool.
After suffering a devastating five-nil hammering at the hands of Swindon Town, Michael Flynn's Saddlers look to get back to winning ways as they welcome Hartlepool United to the Banks's Stadium.

Hartlepool United began the game brightly, seeing much of the ball in the early goings, and seeing the first half-chance of the game blocked in just the second minute, as Issac Fletcher collected the ball from Nicky Featherstone and attempted to find the target from outside the area.

The visiting side continued to dominate, with Joe White forcing a save from Walsall shot-stopper, Carl Rushworth in the seventh minute, with an effort from the edge of the box.

Walsall grew into the game, gradually beginning to see more of the ball, and creating their first chance to take the lead in the twelfth minute, as captain, Joss Labadie fired goal-wards from outside the box, however, his effort failed to find the target.

Unperturbed, the Saddlers continued to press and were rewarded for their efforts just one minute later, as Emmanuel Osadebe picked his way through the United defences before finding George Miller, who coolly slotted past Ben Killip in the visitors' goal to gift his side an early lead.

The Saddlers set about looking to double their advantage, and were almost successful in doing so in the sixteenth minute, as some nice play from Liam Kinsella set Labadie up, but the captain's effort on goal was deflected behind for a corner, which was played into the area for Kinsella, who failed to find the target.

With twenty-six minutes on the clock, Walsall doubled their advantage. Conor Wilkinson netting his sixth goal of the season as he fired home from outside the box, after some good work from Labadie played him in.

Hartlepool set about looking to reduce the deficit, and could have halved it as we reached the half-hour mark, but Rushworth remained alert as Luke Molyneux beat Tyrese Shade and fired goal-wards, getting down well to block the shot.

Six minutes later, United were presented with another opportunity to reduce the deficit, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position, but Omar Bogle was unable to turn David Ferguson's cross home and the scores remained unchanged.

There was little further action of note, and after two additional minutes were played out at the end of the first-half, the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Walsall leading by two-goals-to-nil.

Hartlepool opted to make a change as the teams returned, with Joe White sitting out the second-half, as Joe Grey took his place. The visiting side looked to halve the deficit early in the second forty-five, and were a little unlucky to see Molyneux fire wide from close range four minutes in.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with neither side really creating much to test their opposition defences, until, almost an hour in, Rushworth was forced into another save by Jamie Sterry, whose effort from distance was parried clear by the alert goalkeeper.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a brighter spell, with Rushworth having to make a save to deny Omar Bogle a headed effort from a corner kick, in the sixty-first minute.

However, just two minutes later, Bogle found the target, bringing his side back into the game as he beat Rushworth with an effort from the centre of the box after Issac Fletcher saw an initial shot saved.

Walsall were quick to work the ball back upfield, as they looked to restore their two-goal cushion, but Wilkinson was unable to beat Killip in the United goal with an effort from distance, and it wasn't long before Fletcher was able to send another troubling shot Rushworth's way at the other end, though the Walsall 'keeper remained alert to the danger and made the save.

With sixty-seven minutes on the clock, Walsall secured their third goal of the game, as Miller beat the 'keeper and poked the ball into an empty net, restoring his sides two-goal advantage as he converted for the eleventh time this season.

With seventy-five minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Conor Wilkinson making way for Lee Tomlin to make his Walsall debut. Hartlepool also took the opportunity to make a change to their line-up, with Tom Crawford departing in favour of Gavan Holohan.

The visiting side won a corner kick moments after the changes had been completed, as they looked to get back in the game, but after meeting the in-swinging cross, Timi Odusina failed to test Rushworth as he fired wide.

Hartlepool continued to press, and were a little unlucky to see a Tomlin effort deflected behind in the eighty-second minute.

Six minutes from time, the visiting side opted to make their third and final change of the game, as Issac Fletcher was replaced by Marcus Carver.

Four minutes later, the Saddlers chose to make their second change of the afternoon, with George Miller making way for Devante Rodney.

Four minutes were added to end the game, during which time, the Saddlers opted to make their final change, as Emmanuel Osadebe departed in favour of Brendan Kiernan.

There was little further action of note though, and the match was brought to it's conclusion, with Walsall winning by three-goals-to-one.

The Saddlers once again showing how consistently inconsistent they can be as they claimed all three points.

Miller (13')
Wilkinson (26')
Miller (67')
Bogle (63')

Lee Swabey
4,760 (372) - Banks's Stadium
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