Match Report: Walsall 2 Crewe Alexandra 0 Match Report: Walsall 2 Crewe Alexandra 0

Match Report: Walsall 2 Crewe Alexandra 0

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' Boxing Day clash with Crewe Alexandra.
Walsall were back in League Two action on Boxing Day as they welcomed Crewe Alexandra to town with the Saddlers hoping to add to their advantage over the teams in the lower reaches of the table and continue their steady climb towards the top.

Crewe began the game brightly, with Aaron Rowe playing the ball through for Shilow Tracey just three minutes in, but Walsall shot-stopper, Jackson Smith was alert to the danger and beat the striker to it.

Isaac Hutchinson became the first player to see his name taken by the referee, in just the eighth minute, as he was cautioned following a foul on Joe White. The resulting free-kick was played in low by the fouled man, but Smith made the save to deny him.

The visiting side continued to press, with Connor O'Riordan firing a long range strike goal-wards in the tenth minute, but his effort had too much on it and the ball sailed over the crossbar.

Walsall began to grow into the game as it continued, winning a free-kick in the fourteenth minute, which eventually fell to Donervon Daniels, but Oisin McEntee was unable to connect with his skipper's cross to turn the ball home.

Crewe won the first corner of the match in the eighteenth minute, as Brandon Comley turned the ball out of play, but nothing would come of the flag-kick as the hosts cleared.

The visiting side continued to press, with Rowe racing towards goal in the twenty-first minute, before firing goal-wards, but his effort lacked precision and sailed wide of the target from the edge of the area.

The Saddlers were quick to work the ball up to the other end, where Tom Knowles looked to find a teammate with a cross into the box, but Crewe 'keeper, Tom Booth was alert to the danger and came out to claim.

Walsall continued to enjoy a good spell, winning a corner in the twenty-fifth minute, as a Jamille Matt headed pass was turned goal-wards by Hutchinson, forcing Mickey Demetriou to turn the ball behind.

Nothing would come of the flag-kick, but the Saddlers continued to press, with Freddie Draper combining with Hutchinson to play in Comley in the twenty-ninth minute, but the midfielders effort was deflected wide by White, earning the hosts a second corner, which also came to nothing as Booth claimed.

The hosts went close to opening the scoring in the thirty-second minute, as Hutchinson fired goal-wards from distance, but his effort struck the crossbar before Demetriou turned the ball out of play. The resulting corner was played into the box by Ryan Stirk for Draper who headed home from close range to put his side ahead.

Crewe looked to respond quickly to falling a goal behind, with Tracey seeing an effort blocked in the thirty-seventh minute, moments before Daniels turned a Courtney Baker-Richardson effort behind, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Joe White became the second player to be shown the yellow card, as he received a caution in the thirty-eighth minute following a foul on Hutchinson.

Crewe got forward again as the board was raised to show three additional minutes were to be played, but Smith was alert to the danger and denied Baker-Richardson, though any goal would not have stood as the flag was raised.

Knowles won a corner for his side at the other end moments later, but nothing would come of the flag-kick as the initial delivery from Stirk was cleared, before the ball fell to Knowles, who fired over from distance.

That would be the final action of note before the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments. Walsall leading by one-goal-to-nil at the break.

HALF-TIME
WALSALL 1-0 CREWE

The teams returned unchanged after the break and Crewe got the second-half underway. The visiting side began the half brightly, with Baker-Richardson heading the ball goal-wards just four minutes in, though his effort lacked power, allowing Smith to gather with ease.

The visiting side continued to enjoy a good spell, forcing Smith to make another save in the fifty-second minute, as the ball fell kindly for Ryan Cooney, whose effort from outside the area forced the 'keeper down low.

Connor O'Riordan became the third player to see yellow, as he was cautioned in the fifty-fourth minute for a foul on Draper.

Crewe continued to test the Walsall defences as the match continued, with Demetriou playing an inviting ball into the area in the fifty-sixth minute, where Baker-Richardson was waiting to connect with it, but fortunately for the Saddlers, the striker headed his effort inches wide of the target.

Walsall were able to work the ball up to the other end as we reached the hour mark, where a long cross from Stirk was met by Hutchinson, who did well to beat his man but failed to beat Booth, who did well to get to the ball to keep his side in the game. However, the resulting corner was crossed in towards the near post by Stirk, where McEntee was waiting to head home and double his sides advantage.

With sixty-four minutes on the clock, the visitors opted to make their first change of the afternoon, with Lewis Billington making way for Christopher Long.

There was a halt to proceedings in the sixty-fifth minute, allowing Stirk to receive attention from the medical staff, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Long was quick to get involved in the action, winning a corner for his side as an effort from outside the area was turned behind by McEntee. Another flag-kick followed moments later as Stirk put the ball out of play, but nothing would come of that either.

Christopher Long joined those to see their names added to the referee's notebook, as he was cautioned for a foul on Knowles in the seventy-first minute.

Things settled a little as the game continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball without creating much to trouble their opposition defences, although Adebisi did find space to shoot in the eightieth minute, but his effort sailed high and wide of the target.

Ten minutes from time, Walsall chose to make their first change of the afternoon, with Jamille Matt making way for Jack Earing.

There was another brief halt to proceedings in the eighty-second minute, allowing Oisin McEntee to receive attention from the medical team. It was soon determined he would be unable to continue and Harry Williams was brought on in his place.

The game settled into something of a midfield battle after the change was completed, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball without creating anything to test their opposition defences.

Eight additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time Aaron Rowe became the fifth player to see his name added to the referee's notebook, as he was cautioned following a foul on Comley, and Crewe opted to make another change to their line-up, with Joe White being replaced by Calum Agius.

The visiting side felt they should have been awarded a penalty two minutes into those added, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

Ryan Cooney drew a fifth caution for the visiting side three minutes into added time, as an argument saw the referee wave the yellow in his direction.

There was little further action of note, until Earing fired a powerful low-effort goal-wards in the eighth added minute, stinging the palms of the Alex 'keeper, who did well to keep the ball out. That would be the final action of note, and the match was brought to it's conclusion with Walsall winning by two-goals-to-nil.

FULL-TIME
WALSALL 2-0 CREWE
DRAPER (33')
McENTEE (61')


AT POUNDLAND BESCOT STADIUM
REFEREE SCOTT JACKSON
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