Match Report: Rochdale 1 Walsall 0 Match Report: Rochdale 1 Walsall 0

Match Report: Rochdale 1 Walsall 0

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Rochdale.
Arriving at the match on the back of a duo of defeats, the Saddlers made the trip to Spotland Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they looked to increase the gap between themselves and the relegation zone.

Walsall got the game underway, and the travelling side saw much of the early possession as the two sides settled into the contest.

Jack Rose, who had replaced the injured Carl Rushworth between the sticks, was the first goalkeeper to see action, as a seventh-minute free-kick was swung into the area by Liam Kelly, but the ball evaded everyone and the Walsall shot-stopper was able to gather.

Another Rochdale free-kick followed in the twelfth minute, as Emmanuel Osadebe was adjudged to have handled the ball just outside the area. Kelly again played the ball into the area from the set-piece, this time finding Conor Grant at the far post, but Rose was on hand to ensure the striker would not find the target.

The Saddlers were able to work the ball back up to the other end following that chance, where Manny Monthe fired wide following some good work from Jack Earing to get the ball to him before Conor Wilkinson fired over from distance moments later.

The hosts soon had the ball back in the Walsall half, with a lovely ball over the top from Jeriel Dorsett being met by Luke Charman, whose effort on goal was easily saved by a well-positioned Rose.

Rochdale were unlucky not to take the lead in the eighteenth minute, as a free-kick taken by Eoghan O'Connell was met by Max Clark, who picked out Charman at the back post.

The forwards' effort on goal met the upright, but Grant was on hand to turn the rebound goal-wards, forcing Rose to make another save, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

With twenty-five minutes on the clock, Walsall were forced to make their first change of the afternoon, as, after receiving treatment for an injury, it became apparent that Liam Kinsella would be unable to continue. Sam Perry the man to take his place.

The hosts won another corner as the game got back underway, as Stephen Ward turned the ball out of play, but Paul Downing was unable to find the target with a headed effort following the flag-kick, as Osadebe positioned himself well and cleared behind for a second corner, which came to nothing.

Walsall enjoyed a good spell as we rushed past the half-hour mark, winning a few corners, as they set about trying to find an opening goal, all of which came to nothing.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as the break drew ever closer, with neither side able to create anything to test their opposition defences, though, in the forty-second minute, Danny Cashman did fire an effort goal-wards, but it sailed wide of the upright.

The board went up to indicate that two additional minutes would be added to end the first-half, as Brendan Kiernan saw an effort on goal deflect into the waiting arms of Rochdale shot-stopper, Jay Lynch.

One minute into the additional two, Sam Perry became the first player to see yellow, as the substitute was cautioned following a foul on Grant.

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

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and Grant got the second-half underway. Rochdale began the half brightly, winning a succession of corners in the opening moments, all of which, thankfully for the Saddlers, came to nothing.

Ten minutes into the half, the hosts found the breakthrough, as Charman and Kelly combined to play in Grant, who did well to beat Osadebe before slipping the ball calmly past Rose to put his side ahead.

As we reached the hour mark, Rochdale opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Danny Cashman made way for Alex Newby. The Saddlers also took the opportunity to introduce some fresh legs, with Stephen Ward being replaced by George Miller for the final thirty minutes.

Miller looked to get involved quickly, as he picked up a cross from Earing just two minutes after his introduction, but his effort on goal from outside the area sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides enjoying spells with the ball, whilst struggling to cause their opposition defences any cause for concern, though Newby did see an effort on goal blocked in the sixty-eighth minute, after some play from Kelly set him up.

With seventy-one minutes on the clock, Rochdale made their second change of the afternoon, with Conor Grant departing in favour of Abraham Odoh. Walsall then opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, as Brendan Kiernan made way for Devante Rodney.

Walsall captain, Joss Labadie, became only the second player to see yellow, as he picked up his fourteenth caution of the season following a foul on Charman in the seventy-third minute.

Fifteen minutes from time, the hosts were presented with an opportunity to double their advantage, but after some nice work from Corey O'Keeffe to play him in, Odoh was unable to find the target from the centre of the box, as his effort was blocked, allowing Rose to make the save.

With eighty-three minutes on the clock, the Saddlers were presented with a rare chance to restore parity, but Labadie's effort on goal from outside the area was easily saved by the Rochdale shot-stopper.

The hosts were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous spot in the eighty-fifth minute, as O'Keeffe was felled by Conor Wilkinson, who received a yellow card for the challenge, but Rose was on hand to ensure that would be the only punishment for the Saddlers, as he denied the Rochdale man a late goal.

Rochdale opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon in the ninetieth minute, with Luke Charman making way for Matt Done, as the board went up to indicate that three additional minutes would be played.

Walsall ended the match with just ten men, as Conor Wilkinson picked up an injury deep into stoppage time and had to be carried from the pitch. That had little bearing on the outcome of the game though, as the referee brought an end to the contest moments later, with Rochdale winning by one-goal-to-nil.

Grant (55')

Adam Herczeg
2,437 (445)
Spotland Stadium
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