Match Report: Stevenage 3 Walsall 1 Match Report: Stevenage 3 Walsall 1

Match Report: Stevenage 3 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Stevenage.
Walsall went in search of just their second league win of 2023 as they made the trip to Broadhall Way and took on promotion-chasing Stevenage on Saturday afternoon.

Looking to build upon their midweek draw with Bradford City, Michael Flynn's men were up against a team going through its own struggle, with the third-placed Boro winning just once in their last seven league outings.

Walsall began the game brightly, with Douglas James-Taylor heading the ball on for Andy Williams, just one minute into the contest, but the strikers effort from the right side of the box was well saved by Stevenage goalkeeper, Jon McCracken.

Stevenage had soon worked the ball up to the other end, where they won the first corner of the match as Hayden White blocked a Jordan Roberts shot, though nothing would come of the flag-kick.

The Saddlers saw an effort blocked themselves, in the seventh minute, as Williams again found himself in a position to shoot after some good work from Tom Knowles to work the ball to him.

Just a few seconds later, Stevenage had more luck in front of goal, as Max Clark broke with the ball, which he slipped through for Josh March, who fired home from the edge of the area.

The hosts sought to extend their lead as the game continued, with Luke Norris firing goal-wards from range in the thirteenth minute, but Walsall shot-stopper, Owen Evans was alert to the danger and made the save.

Stevenage doubled their advantage one minute later, as Norris got on the end of a Kane Smith cross and poked the ball home from close range.

Walsall looked to respond quickly, as they looked to prevent the game from getting away from them, but Knowles sixteenth minute shot was easily saved by McCracken.

The hosts won a corner in the twentieth minute, as Jacob Maddox turned the ball behind, but nothing would come of the flag-kick, as the Saddlers cleared the danger at the first time of asking.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle as it continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball without creating anything to trouble their opposition defences, though twenty-seven minutes in, Norris did see an effort from range sail narrowly wide of the upright.

With twenty-nine minutes played, Manny Monthe halved the deficit, as Dan Sweeney failed to clear a cross into the box, allowing the defender to fire home from close range.

Stevenage were quick to work the ball back up to the other end as they looked to restore their two-goal advantage. They won a corner as Maddox turned a Jake Taylor effort behind, but nothing would come of the flag-kick with Evans on hand to deny Norris.

Hayden White became the first player to see yellow, as he was cautioned for a thirty-fifth-minute foul on Norris.

The resulting free-kick was played in Clark, before being passed to March by Norris, with the striker turning the ball home with a superb overhead kick to restore the hosts' two-goal advantage.

Stevenage continued to press, with March chesting the ball down for Taylor, whose effort on goal sailed narrowly wide of the upright in the thirty-ninth minute.

Two additional minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time a cross from Roberts found March, who headed goal-wards forcing Evans to get down low to make the save, before the Saddlers' defences cleared the danger.

That would be the final action of note, with the sides heading off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Stevenage leading by three-goals-to-one at the break.

HALF-TIME
STEVENAGE 3-1 WALSALL

Walsall chose to make four changes to their line-up as the teams returned, with Isaac Hutchinson, Liam Gordon, Jacob Maddox and Andy Williams sitting out the second-half, as Joe Riley, Joe Low, Liam Kinsella and Conor Wilkinson took their places.

Stevenage looked to start up where they left off, with Clark crossing the ball into the area for March, just two minutes into the second-half, but the strikers headed effort sailed wide of Evans' upright.

Walsall won a corner at the other end, just two minutes later, as Sweeney turned the ball out of play, but nothing would come of the flag-kick, as White played the ball in to Knowles, whose effort on goal was turned wide by Taylor, with the corner that resulted coming to nothing.

The Saddlers continued to test their opposition defences as the game continued, with Sweeney again turning the ball out of play in the fifty-third minute, gifting Walsall another flag-kick, from which they were unable to reduce the deficit Low headed wide.

A corner at the other end followed three minutes later, as Low put the ball out of play, but the hosts were unable to make the chance count, as they passed the ball amongst themselves before the danger passed.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the fifty-eighth minute, allowing White and Sweeney to receive treatment, but both were soon back on their feet and able to continue.

The free-kick which followed, was crossed in by Jake Reeves, for Norris, whose right-footed effort from outside the area sailed high and wide of the target.

Carl Piergianni became the second player to see yellow, as he was cautioned for a foul on Knowles, in the sixty-second minute, with the resulting free-kick from the edge of the area being headed behind by Roberts for a corner, which came to nothing.

Jake Reeves joined those already listed in the referee's notebook, in the sixty-seventh minute, as he was cautioned following a foul on Evans.

Just two minutes later, they were joined in the book, by Alex Gilbey and Tom Knowles, who were cautioned after getting into an argument following a foul by the latter on the former.

The hosts went on to win a corner in the seventy-third minute, as Low prevented a Roberts shot from finding the target, but nothing would come of the flag-kick.

Walsall almost reduced the deficit to one in the seventy-eighth minute, as a cross from James-Taylor fell kindly for Wilkinson, who fired goal-wards from the edge of the area, but his effort sailed wide of McCracken's upright.

The Saddlers continued to press, with Monthe playing in James-Taylor in, ten minutes from time, but the strikers effort sailed over the crossbar.

With eighty-one minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their fifth and final change of the game, with Brandon Comley making way for Matty Stevens.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the eighty-third minute, allowing March and Donervon Daniels to receive treatment, but both were soon up and able to continue.

In the eighty-eighth minute, Stevenage chose to make their first change of the game, with Jake Taylor being replaced by Daryl Horgan.

Five additional minutes were added to end the match, during which time, James-Taylor saw an effort sail wide of goal, before, two minutes into those added, Stevenage opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Josh March making way for Jamie Reid.

Three minutes later, the hosts made their third and final change of the afternoon, as Luke Norris made way for Danny RoseThat would be the final action of note, and the game was brought to it's conclusion with the scores unchanged during the second-half. Stevenage winning by three-goals-to-one.

FULL-TIME
STEVENAGE 3-1 WALSALL
MARCH (7')
NORRIS (14')
MARCH (36')
MONTHE (29')


AT LAMEX STADIUM
REFEREE CARL BROOK
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