Match Report: Walsall 2 Crawley Town 1 Match Report: Walsall 2 Crawley Town 1

Match Report: Walsall 2 Crawley Town 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Crawley Town.
Walsall returned to league action on Saturday afternoon as they welcomed the in-form Crawley Town to Poundland Bescot Stadium.

Looking to continue their strong spell of form in WS1, which had seen them win their last four home league games, Michael Flynn's side hoped to down an opponent who had also been in fine form.

Crawley began the game brightly, seeing lots of the ball in the early stages of the contest, though there first effort on goal came to nothing, as Dominic Telford saw a shot blocked from close range just three minutes in.

Town continued to press, winning the first corner of the match in the seventh minute, as Tom Knowles turned the ball out of play, but nothing would come of the flag-kick as the Walsall defences stood firm to clear the danger.

Walsall were finally able to gain possession and work the ball up to the other in the tenth minute, with Isaac Hutchinson playing in Liam Gordon, whose powerful effort was well saved by Town 'keeper, Ellery Balcombe.

With just eleven minutes on the clock, Crawley took the lead, as the side won a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Ashley Nadesan crossed into the box where Telford was waiting to tap home.

Knowles won a free-kick at the other end just three minutes later, which he swung in towards the back post, where Hayden White was on hand to turn the ball home and level the scores.

The Saddlers continued to grow into the game, and could have taken the lead in the nineteenth minute, as George Francomb turned the ball out of play to gift them a corner, which Gordon swung into the box for Donervon Daniels, but the captains headed effort sailed wide.

At the other end, moments later, Walsall shot-stopper, Owen Evans was forced to make a save to deny Jake Hessenthaler, who did well to bring the ball down before firing goal-wards from the edge of the area.

Walsall soon had the ball back in the Crawley half, and forced a save themselves, as Bennett worked the ball to Hutchinson, whose volley from twelve yards out was well stopped by the 'keeper.

With twenty-six minutes on the clock, Ludwig Francillette became the first player to draw a yellow card from the referee, as a late challenge on Knowles saw him cautioned.

The game settled a little as it continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball, without creating much to trouble their opposition defences, although Gordon and Knowles combined well in the thirty-fifth minute, but the latter's effort on goal sailed over the crossbar, without troubling the man between the sticks.

With thirty-nine minutes on the clock, Crawley were reduced to ten men, as a second yellow card was shown to Ludwig Francillette following a foul on Danny Johnson.

The visiting side responded to the red card by making a change in the forty-second minute, with Dominic Telford making way for Tony Craig as they looked to shore up their defences.

Three minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time, Walsall won a corner, which Bennett fired over the crossbar. There was little other action of note, and the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with the scores tied at one-goal-apiece.

HALF-TIME SCORE
WALSALL 1-1 CRAWLEY TOWN

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the match got back underway. Walsall began the second-half brightly, with Jacob Maddox getting on the end of a Gordon cross seconds after the re-start, but his effort on goal was well saved by Balcombe, with Knowles turning the rebound over the crossbar.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Daniels seeing an effort from outside the area saved by Balcombe in the forty-eighth minute, before Brandon Comley saw a thirty-five yard shot blocked by Craig moments later, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Ten minutes into the half, White and Gordon combined to create another chance on goal for the hosts, but the latter's effort from the centre of the box sailed high over the crossbar.

With fifty-eight minutes on the clock, Crawley opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Teddy Jenks making way for James Tilley. Walsall also opted to change their team, as both Liam Bennett and Brandon Comley were substituted, with Andy Williams and Jack Earing taking their places.

Town were finally able to work the ball up to the other end, and create a chance themselves, in the sixty-first minute, as a slip from Daniels allowed Tom Nichols time to work the ball to Nadesan, whose effort on goal was blocked by the Saddlers defences.

Walsall won a corner in the sixty-fourth minute, as Balcombe turned the ball out of play. The cross in from Gordon found Hutchinson, but the shot-stopper remained alert and turned the ball out of play for a second flag-kick, which was followed by a third, as Balcombe again kept the scores level, denying Knowles from close range.

Earing almost put the Saddlers ahead in the sixty-ninth minute, as he fired goal-wards from distance, but his effort sailed inches wide of the upright.

Unperturbed, the hosts continued to press, with Joel Lynch forced to put his body in the path of a Hutchinson shot twenty minutes from time, to keep the scores tied.

The game settled as it continued, with much of the action confined to the midfield area, though the Saddlers saw much of the ball.

Walsall should have taken the lead in the eighty-first minute, as a deflection off Francomb allowed Gordon an effort on goal, but his shot struck the outside of the post.

Five minutes from time, Williams and Gordon combined to create another chance to secure all three points, but the Liam's effort on goal sailed high over the crossbar. Hutchinson had soon worked the ball back to Gordon, who again attempted to find the target, but fired over.

Two minutes from time, the Saddlers opted to make a second double change, with Jacob Maddox and Liam Gordon making way for Douglas James-Taylor and Taylor Allen.

Walsall continued to seek a late goal, with Manny Monthe firing narrowly over the crossbar from thirty-five yards, in the eighty-ninth minute.

As the board was raised to indicate that five additional minutes would be played, Nadesan saw a long range effort curl over the crossbar at the other end.

That would Ashley Nadesan's final contribution, as he was replaced, one minute into the five added, by Tom Fellows.

Just a minute later, the Saddlers finally found the breakthrough, as Hutchinson crossed the ball in for Danny Johnson, who fired home from close range to secure the points for the hosts.

In the ninety-fourth minute, Joel Lynch became only the second player to see yellow, as he was cautioned for arguing, and one minute later, Tom Nichols joined him in the referee's notebook as he saw yellow for a foul on Earing. That would be the final action of note, as the game was brought to it's conclusion with Walsall winning by two-goals-to-one.

FULL-TIME SCORE
WALSALL 2-1 CRAWLEY TOWN
WHITE (11')
JOHNSON (90+2')
TELFORD (11')

AT POUNDLAND BESCOT STADIUM
ATTENDANCE 6,201 (172)
REFEREE DARREN DRYSDALE
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