Match Report: Walsall 2 Mansfield Town 1 Match Report: Walsall 2 Mansfield Town 1
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Match Report: Walsall 2 Mansfield Town 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Mansfield Town.
Walsall opened the New Year with a home clash against fellow Play-Off hopefuls, Mansfield Town, and, after ending 2022 with a defeat to Stockport County, were looking to return to winning ways.

Following a minute of applause in memory of Pelé, the match got underway. Both sides enjoyed spells on the ball early in the contest, but four minutes in, Mansfield were presented with the first chance of the afternoon, as Isaac Hutchinson fouled Rhys Oates, giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position, but fortunately for Walsall, shot-stopper, Owen Evans was alert to the danger as Anthony Hartigan swung the ball into the box for Oliver Hawkins, and made the save.

The Stags continued to enjoy a good spell, with Kellan Gordon crossing a dangerous ball across the face of goal in the ninth minute, but both Will Swan and George Lapslie failed to get the telling touch and the move fizzled out.

Unperturbed, the visiting side continued to seek an early opener, with a partially cleared Swan cross finding Lapslie, in the twelfth minute, but fortunately for the Saddlers, the midfielders effort on goal sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

The game settled a little, but Mansfield continued to test the Walsall defences, with both Hiram Boateng and Lapslie seeing shots from outside the area blocked in the twenty-first minute, before Oates saw an effort from the edge of the area blocked four minutes later.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the twenty-eighth minute, allowing Anthony Hartigan to receive treatment, but after five minutes it was confirmed that he would be unable to continue and George Maris was brought on in his place.

Walsall began to show signs of life as the action resumed, with Jacob Maddox picking out Douglas James-Taylor with a cross into the box in the thirty-fourth minute, but the strikers' effort on goal was well saved by Town 'keeper, Christy Pym.

The Saddlers continued to press, winning a corner in the thirty-sixth minute, as a Tom Knowles effort was deflected behind by James Perch, but nothing would come of the flag-kick.

Mansfield had soon worked the ball up to the other end, where Maris saw a powerful effort saved by Evans, with the rebound fired high over the crossbar.

With forty-three minutes on the clock, Walsall found the breakthrough, as Andy Williams and Maddox combined to work the ball to James-Taylor, whose effort on goal deflected past Pym to put the Saddlers ahead.

Five minutes were added to end the first-half, and though Knowles went close with an effort from distance four minutes into them, there was little further action of note, and Walsall took a one-goal lead into the break.

HALF-TIME SCORE
WALSALL 1-0 MANSFIELD TOWN

The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the second-half got underway. Just two minutes after the restart, Liam Kinsella bagged his first goal of the season, putting Walsall two goals to the good, as he headed home a Hutchinson cross following a corner from the edge of the area.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Manny Monthe heading the ball into the path of Williams, in the fiftieth minute, but the strikers effort sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

The hosts went on to win a corner in the fifty-first minute, as Lapslie turned the ball out of play. Liam Gordon swung the ball into the area for James-Taylor, but the strikers effort from the centre of the box sailed wide.

James-Taylor looked to turn provider moments later, as he fed the ball through for Knowles, but the midfielders effort on goal sailed high and wide of the target.

Walsall won a corner in the fifty-eighth minute, as a Gordon effort was deflected wide by Hawkins, but nothing would come of the flag-kick.

With sixty-three minutes on the clock, Mansfield opted to make a double change to their line-up, with Stephen McLaughlin and Stephen Quinn making way for John-Joe O'Toole and Jordan Bowery.

Jacob Maddox became the first player to see yellow, as he was cautioned for a foul on Boateng in the sixty-fifth minute.

Mansfield almost pulled a goal back in the sixty-eighth minute, but Bowery's cross into the area for Oates came to nothing as the effort was blocked, before Boateng fired over.

With seventy-three minutes played, Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon, as Andy Williams made way for Conor Wilkinson.

The Stags went close again in the seventy-sixth minute, as they won a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Boateng floated in for Hawkins, whose effort from the right side of the area sailed narrowly over the crossbar.

With seventy-eight minutes on the clock, Walsall chose to make their second change of the afternoon, as Jacob Maddox made way for Brandon Comley. Mansfield also took the opportunity to introduce fresh legs, with Will Swan departing in favour of Jason Law.

Eight minutes from time, Mansfield pulled a goal back, as Kellan Gordon crossed the ball into the area for Oates, who headed home from the centre of the area.

Owen Evans became the second player to see yellow, as he was cautioned for time wasting, as he looked to prevent a quick restart following the goal.

The visiting side looked to level the scores with a Hawkins effort from outside the area, in the eighty-fifth minute, but the defenders shot was blocked behind by Donervon Daniels, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

With eighty-seven minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make a third change to their line-up, with Douglas James-Taylor making way for Jack Earing.

Six minutes were added to end the game, but there was little further action of note and the referee brought an end to the contest with Walsall winning by two-goals-to-one.

FULL-TIME SCORE
WALSALL 2-1 MANSFIELD TOWN
JAMES-TAYLOR (43')
KINSELLA (47')
OATES (82')
AT POUNDLAND BESCOT STADIUM
ATTENDANCE 6,199 (1,090)
REFEREE CHARLES BREAKSPEAR
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