Match Report: Walsall 4 Gillingham 1 Match Report: Walsall 4 Gillingham 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 4 Gillingham 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Gillingham.
Walsall were back in league action on Saturday afternoon as they welcomed title-chasing Gillingham to Poundland Bescot Stadium.

Following a minute-long silence to remember the innocent victims caught up in the conflict in Israel and Palestine, the match got underway.

Both teams took time to settle into the contest, seeing plenty of the early ball, without creating anything to trouble their opposition defences, until, ten minutes in, Robbie McKenzie worked the ball to Macauley Bonne, whose strike from the centre of the area was well blocked by Harry Williams, who was again on hand to block Bonne's follow up effort moments later.

Three minutes later, Walsall created their first chance of the afternoon, as captain, Donervon Daniels crossed the ball to Isaac Hutchinson, whose low strike from just outside the box, sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

The visitors had soon worked the ball back up to the other end, where Tom Nichols saw a shot from close range blocked.

The Gills continued to press, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position in the sixteenth minute. Connor Mahoney crossed the ball in towards the near post from the set-piece, but Walsall shot-stopper, Owen Evans was alert to the danger and punched clear. Shaun Williams was well positioned on the edge of the area to pick up the loose ball, but his effort on goal deflected behind off one of his teammates.

Things settled again as play continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball, without creating anything of note.

With twenty-eight minutes on the clock, Gillingham's caretaker manager, Keith Millen was shown the red card after he tripped Tom Knowles as the midfielder went to retrieve the ball to take a throw-in.

Walsall opened the scoring in the thirty-fourth minute, as Ryan Stirk worked the ball to Hutchinson, who took the ball to the edge of the area before unleashing a curling effort that found the target.

The visitors looked to respond quickly to falling a goal behind, but Dom Jefferies's thirty-fifth minute strike from outside the area sailed high and wide of the Walsall goal.

The Saddlers doubled their advantage in the thirty-ninth minute, as Hutchinson turned provider as he played Freddie Draper through on goal, with the strikers powerful shot getting the better of Gills 'keeper, Jake Turner.

Gillingham looked to get back into the game quickly, winning a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal, in the forty-second minute, but Evans was alert to the danger and managed to pull off two magnificent saves in short order to keep his sides lead intact.

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


Gillingham chose to make their first change of the afternoon as the sides returned, with Robbie McKenzie sitting out the second-half, as Max Ehmer took his place.

Max Clark became the first player to see yellow, as he was cautioned following a foul on Knowles in the forty-ninth minute.

The resulting free-kick was taken by Knowles, who curled it in towards the bottom corner, but Turner got down well to make the save.

Fifty-six minutes into the contest, Gillingham opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Shaun Williams making way for Jayden Clarke.

Walsall extended their lead to three, in the fifty-eighth minute, as Oisin McEntee passed the ball to Hutchinson, who fired a low effort past Turner from eighteen yards out, all but putting the game to bed.

Just three minutes after the Walsall goal, Gillingham pulled one back, as they looked to get back into the game, as Clarke crossed the ball in for Bonne, who saw his initial shot saved before firing the rebound home.

The Saddlers set about trying to restore their earlier three goal lead, with Draper seeing a strike sail wide in the sixty-fourth minute, moments before Knowles saw an effort from outside the area also fail to find the target.

McEntee then worked the ball to Hutchinson as the side continued to press, but Turner was alert to the danger and made the save to deny the number eight.

The home side continued to press, with Taylor Allen looking to play in Draper in the sixty-ninth minute, but the strikers effort struck the crossbar.

Ross Tierney became the second player to see yellow, as he was cautioned following a foul on Conor Masterson in the seventieth minute.

Tom Knowles joined Tierney in the referee's notebook just three minutes later, as he too was cautioned for a foul.

The Gills chose to make their third change of the afternoon in the seventy-third minute, as Tom Nichols was replaced by George Lapslie.

Macauley Bonne became the fourth name taken by the referee in the seventy-fourth minute, as he was cautioned for a foul.

A fifth yellow card followed just three minutes later, as the game became a scrappy affair; Oisin McEntee the man to receive the caution, as was booked following a foul on Lapslie.

Walsall chose to make their first substitutions of the afternoon in the seventy-ninth minute, as Tom Knowles and Freddie Draper made way for Brandon Comley and Jamille Matt.

Gillingham went close to pulling another goal back in the eighty-second minute, as Shadrach Ogie fired a powerful strike goal-wards from thirty yards out, but Evans was alert to the danger and made the save. The resulting corner was swung into the area by Mahoney, who picked out Ethan Coleman with his cross, but the midfielders headed effort cleared the crossbar.

Five minutes from time, Hutchinson ensured all three points would remain in the Black Country, as Matt and Tierney combined to work the ball to the midfielder at the back post, with Isaac heading the ball into the bottom corner to secure his hat-trick.

The visiting side made a fourth change to their line-up in the eighty-ninth minute, as Connor Mahoney was replaced by Jonny Williams.

Six additional minutes were added to end the game, though there was little real action of note, although as we reached the sixth of the added minutes, Shadrach Ogie saw his name taken by the referee, as he was cautioned for a foul on Matt.

That would be the final action of the afternoon, and the match was brought to it's conclusion with Walsall winning by four-goals-to-nil. A much improved performance from the Saddlers, who took their chances well.

DRAPER (39')
BONNE (61')

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