Match Report: Walsall 0 Stockport County 2 Match Report: Walsall 0 Stockport County 2
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Match Report: Walsall 0 Stockport County 2

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Stockport County.
Walsall returned to action on Thursday evening as they welcomed Stockport County to Poundland Bescot Stadium for the first game since the club secured the freehold, ending all association between Walsall FC and former chairman Jeff Bonser.

With a tremendous spell of form to build upon, including a bounce-back victory against Swindon Town on Boxing Say, the Saddlers were hoping to continue their steady climb towards the Play-Offs with a win against County.

Following a minute long silence in memory of Cody Fisher, Walsall got the match underway. The hosts began brightly, winning a corner in just the second minute, as Akil Wright turned the ball out of play, but nothing would come of the opportunity as Isaac Hutchinson's ball in for Hayden White was cleared by the Stockport defences.

There was a pause in proceedings in the fifth minute, allowing Donervon Daniels and Will Collar to receive treatment following a coming together, but both were soon back on their feet and able to continue.

County won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the tenth minute, as Manny Monthe fouled Kyle Wootton, but an infringement of the off-side rule ensured nothing would come of the opportunity.

The visiting side continued to press, with Paddy Madden crossing the ball in for Collar, whose headed effort from the centre of the box was well saved by Walsall shot-stopper, Owen Evans, with the resulting corner coming to nothing as both Ryan Croasdale and Myles Hippolyte failed to make the most of their chances.

Collar almost opened the scoring for Stockport in the sixteenth minute, as he fired an effort goal-wards from twenty-five yards out, but Evans was alert to the danger and got across goal in time to palm the effort clear.

In the twenty-first minute, Liam Gordon became the first player to see yellow, as he was cautioned following a foul on Phil Bardsley.

Stockport continued to cause the Walsall defences problems, with Bardsley setting up Fraser Horsfall in the twenty-second minute, but the defenders headed effort was well blocked.

Walsall were quick to work the ball up to the other end, following that effort on goal, winning a corner in the twenty-third minute as Ryan Rydel turned the ball out of play, but it came to nothing.

Three minutes later, Stockport won a corner as White blocked a cross from Rydel. The ball into the area from Bardsley looked good, but the Saddlers were able to scramble it clear.

Walsall went close to opening the scoring in the twenty-ninth minute, as Monthe crossed the ball in for Knowles, who was denied a goal by the feet of County 'keeper, ben Hinchcliffe.

As we reached the half hour mark, Liam Kinsella became the second player to receive a caution, as he was booked following a foul on Hippolyte.

With thirty-three minutes on the clock, Stockport took the lead, as Akil Wright crossed the ball in for Wootton, who was afforded far too much space to control the ball and slip it past Evans.

The Saddlers looked to respond quickly, winning a corner in the thirty-eighth minute, as a Knowles effort from the edge of the area was deflected behind, with Liam Bennett then trying his luck from thirty-five yards, though Hinchcliffe remained alert to the danger and made the save.

Stockport had soon worked the ball back to the other end, where Madden found the woodwork with a headed effort, before Evans was able to clear the danger.

Walsall won another corner in the forty-third minute, as they continued to seek to restore parity, Knowles seeing an effort blocked by Madden, but nothing would come of the flag-kick as the ball was picked up by Daniels at the back post, with a deflection turned it wide of the post, though only a goal-kick was given by the officials.

Five additional minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time County won a corner, as a Rydel free-kick was turned behind by Evans, but Hippolyte fired over following the flag-kick, and the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Stockport leading by one-goal-to-nil.

HALF-TIME SCORE
WALSALL 0-1 STOCKPORT COUNTY

Walsall made two changes to their line-up as the teams returned, with Liam Gordon and Jack Earing sitting out the second-half, as Douglas James-Taylor and Jacob Maddox filled their places.

The Saddlers began the second-half brightly, with Knowles seeing an effort parried by Hinchcliffe just three minutes after the re-start, with Danny Johnson then seeing his rebound effort saved by the man between the sticks.

Stockport very nearly extended their lead in the fifty-third minute, as a poor clearance from the Saddlers fell to Bardsley, whose dipping, twenty yard effort sailed inches wide of the upright.

Walsall won a corner as we reached the hour mark, which was delivered into the box by Knowles, but headed narrowly wide by White.

With sixty-two minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make a third change to their line-up, with Danny Johnson making way for Conor Wilkinson.

County doubled their advantage in the sixty-fifth minute, as Collar crossed the ball into the box for Wootton, who headed home from the centre of the area.

Following the goal, Stockport opted to make a double change, with Ryan Johnson and Phil Bardsley making way for James Brown and Joe Lewis.

Fifteen minutes from time, Walsall opted to make their final two changes of the evening, as Isaac Hutchinson and Liam Bennett were replaced by Andy Williams and Taylor Allen. Stockport also took the opportunity to make two further changes to their team, as they replaced Paddy Madden and Ryan Rydel with Antoni Sarcevic and Calum MacDonald.

The visiting side were awarded a free-kick thirty yards from goal in the seventy-seventh minute, as Sarcevic was fouled by Daniels. The recently introduced MacDonald stepped forth to take the set-piece, and fired a powerful effort through the wall, forcing Evans to make the save to keep his side in the game.

Ten minutes from time, James Brown became the third player to see yellow, as he was cautioned following a foul on James-Taylor.

Wootton almost secured his hat-trick in the eighty-fourth minute, as he got on the end of a MacDonald cross, but his headed effort sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

With eighty-nine minutes on the clock, Hayden White became the fourth player to draw a yellow card from the referee, as he was cautioned for a foul on Lewis.

As the board went up to indicate that six additional minutes would be played, County opted to make their fifth and final change of the evening, as Will Collar made way for Ollie Crankshaw.

The visiting side won a free-kick in the ninety-first minute, but Brown's effort sailed narrowly wide. County continued to seek a third goal late into stoppage time, with Crankshaw seeing an effort blocked. That would be the last action of note, as time was called with Stockport winning by two-goals-to-nil

FULL-TIME SCORE
WALSALL 0-2 STOCKPORT COUNTY


WOOTTON (33')
WOOTTON (65')
AT POUNDLAND BESCOT STADIUM
ATTENDANCE 6,455 (1,174)
REFEREE CRAIG HICKS (SURREY)
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