Match Report: Rochdale 4 Walsall 2 Match Report: Rochdale 4 Walsall 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Rochdale 4 Walsall 2

Here is our Match Report form the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Rochdale.
The Saddlers made the trip to Greater Manchester and the Crown Oil Arena as they took on bottom-of-the-table Rochdale with Michael Flynn's side looking to earn just a second win in seventeen league games.

The match got off to something of a slow start, with both sides taking their time to settle into the contest, although Tom Knowles and Liam Gordon did combine to create an early chance in the third minute, but Rochdale 'keeper, Richard O'Donnell, was well positioned to deny them a goal.

Rochdale won the first corner of the match, in the tenth minute, as Gordon turned the ball out of play. Nothing would come of the flag-kick though, as Danny Lloyd and Liam Kelly combined to work the ball to Owen Dodgson at the back post, with the defender unable to make the opportunity count.

The hosts continued to enjoy a brighter spell, with Kelly crossing the ball in for Abraham Odoh, in the thirteenth minute, but the strikers effort from outside the area was blocked behind by Joe Low. The resulting corner was worked to the edge of the box, where Ethan Brierley picked it up and fired goal-wards, with Ian Henderson diverting the effort inches wide of the upright.

Walsall began to grow into the game as it continued, with Knowles playing in Jamille Matt in the nineteenth minute, but the strikers headed effort from the centre of the box had a little too much height on it and the ball sailed over the crossbar.

The hosts had soon worked the ball back to the other end, where Brierley crossed the ball into the box for Lloyd, whose effort on goal from close range trickled wide of the post.

The Saddlers were quick to move play back into the Rochdale half, with Joe Riley playing in Knowles in the twenty-second minute, but the strikers effort from the edge of the area struck both posts before the danger was cleared.

Walsall had more luck, just one minute later, as a long throw was met Manny Monthe, who combined with Liam Kinsella to work the ball to Brandon Comley, who headed the ball towards the back post, where Matt was waiting to poke it home.

The visitors won a corner just three minutes after the goal, as they looked to extend their lead, but Kinsella's effort was blocked, before Riley picked up the loose ball and looked to set up Isaac Hutchinson, whose twenty yard shot sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

There was a brief pause in proceedings in the thirty-second minute, allowing Walsall shot-stopper, Owen Evans, to receive treatment, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Rochdale soon set about looking to restore parity, with Henderson playing in Odoh, in the thirty-eighth minute, but the strikers' effort from outside the box sailed wide of the post.

Moments later, Evans was forced to make a superb save to deny D'Mani Mellor, turning the midfielders low strike wide, with the resulting corner falling for Max Taylor, whose effort on goal sailed wide.

Unperturbed, the hosts continued to press, with Dodgson and Taylor combining to create a chance for Henderson, who got a touch on the ball at close range to ensure it would find the bottom corner, and restore parity.

Just two minutes later, Rochdale took the lead, as a loose ball in the box was powered home by Lloyd.

Three additional minutes were added to end the first-half, but there was little further action of note, and the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with Rochdale leading by two-goals-to-one.


The teams returned unchanged after the break, and Rochdale got the action back underway. Walsall began the second-half brightly, and just six minutes in, levelled the scores, as Knowles picked up a loose ball on the half-way line and broke with it before firing past O'Donnell from the centre of the box.

Walsall thought they had restored their earlier lead in the fifty-fifth minute, as they won a corner which was swung onto the head of Matt, by Riley, but the officials spotted a foul in the build-up and the goal was disallowed.

Just one minute later, Rochdale had more luck, as they won a corner, which was swung into the area by Brierley, where Taylor was on hand to turn the ball home to put his side back ahead.

The Saddlers looked to restore parity once more, in the sixty-third minute, with Hutchinson firing goal-wards from outside the area, but his strike was well saved by former Walsall 'keeper, O'Donnell, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

With sixty-four minutes on the clock, Walsall opted to make their first substitutions of the afternoon, as Liam Gordon and Brandon Comley were replaced by Jacob Maddox and Joss Labadie.

Just one minute after the changes were completed, Rochdale doubled their advantage. A scuffed clearance from Evans falling for Brierley, who, spotting the Walsall shot-stopper off his line, fired goal-wards from forty yards out. Evans initially made the save, but spilled the ball before catching it again, with the linesman determining that the ball had crossed the line, although replays seem to confirm that it, in fact, did not.

Owen Evans became the first player to receive a caution, as he was shown the yellow card in the sixty-fifth minute, after getting into an argument about the awarding of the goal.

Four minutes later, the recently introduced, Jacob Maddox joined Evans in the referee's notebook, as he was cautioned following a foul on Lloyd.

Walsall opted to make a second double substitution in the seventy-first minute, with Joe Riley and Liam Kinsella making way for Matty Stevens and Conor Wilkinson.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball, without creating much to trouble their opposition defences.

Seventy-eight minutes into the contest, Rochdale chose to make their first change of the afternoon, as Danny Lloyd-McGoldrick made way for Sam Graham.

The Saddlers went close to pulling a goal back moments later, as Wilkinson created space to shoot, but his effort was well saved by O'Donnell.

Rochdale opted to make a second change to their line-up in the eighty-fifth minute, with Abraham Odoh being replaced by Toby Mullarkey.

As we reached the ninetieth minute, the hosts chose to make their final change of the afternoon, with Liam Kelly making way for Jimmy Ball.

Five additional minutes were added to end the game, but despite winning two corners, the Saddlers were unable to reduce the deficit, and the match was brought to it's conclusion with Rochdale winning by four-goals-to-two.

TAYLOR (56')
MATT (23')

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