Match Report: Walsall 3 Wrexham 1 Match Report: Walsall 3 Wrexham 1

Match Report: Walsall 3 Wrexham 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Wrexham.
Walsall returned to action on Friday evening as they welcomed title-chasing Wrexham to Poundland Bescot Stadium for their final League Two game of 2023.

After defeating Crewe Alexandra on Boxing Day, the Saddlers were hoping to end the year in style and add to their advantage over the teams in the lower reaches of the table.

Walsall began the match brightly, with Tom Knowles seeing an effort sail wide of the target just five minutes into the contest, moments before Isaac Hutchinson worked the ball to Freddie Draper, whose strike from the centre of the box also missed the target.

Wrexham saw more of the ball as the game continued, but it was Walsall who again created a chance on goal in the eleventh minute, as Hutchinson found space to shoot from outside the box, but his effort sailed high and wide.

The Saddlers had more luck in front of goal in the sixteenth minute, as Draper backheeled the ball to Jack Earing, who on his first start for the team in exactly a year, coolly fired home.

Walsall set about seeking a second goal as the action continued, with Knowles crossing the ball into the area for Jamille Matt, but the strikers twenty-second minute header sailed narrowly wide of the mark.

With twenty-four minutes on the clock, Wrexham were awarded a penalty, as a Paul Mullin shot caught the hand of Knowles. Mullin stepped forth to take the spot-kick and duly converted, levelling the scores.

Wrexham went close again five minutes later, as Knowles conceded a corner, which Walsall shot-stopper, Jackson Smith failed to keep a hold of, allowing Mullin an shot at goal. Fortunately for the Saddlers, his effort sailed over the crossbar.

Smith was called into action again in the thirty-second minute, as Mullin again attempted to find the target, though this time the shot-stopper was able to make the save.

Walsall soon had the ball back at the other end, where Earing saw an effort sail over the crossbar, from outside the area.

The hosts went close again in the forty-first minute, as Knowles worked the ball to Hutchinson, who sent an effort in from range, but the ball sailed high and wide of the target.

Unperturbed, the Saddlers continued to press, with Draper playing the ball to Donervon Daniels, whose strike was blocked behind by Ben Tozer. The resulting corner coming to nothing.

Two 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 the scores tied at one-goal-apiece.

HALF-TIME
WALSALL 1-1 WREXHAM

Walsall chose to make a change to their line-up as the teams returned, with Jamille Matt sitting out the second-half, as Douglas James-Taylor took his place.

The Saddlers almost added to their tally just three minutes after the restart, as James-Taylor got on the end of an Earing cross, but Wrexham shot-stopper, Arthur Okonkwo was alert to the danger and made the save.

Priestley Farquharson became the first player to see his name taken by the referee, as he was cautioned following a foul on Mullin in the fifty-second minute. The resulting free-kick was floated in towards Tozer by James McClean, with the defender seeing his effort headed onto the post and away from goal by the Walsall number six.

Andy Cannon joined Farquharson in the referee's notebook in the fifty-ninth minute, as he was booked for fouling Hutchinson. The resulting free-kick was taken by the Walsall number eight, who curled the twenty yard effort into the bottom corner to re-establish his sides earlier lead.

Wrexham responded to the goal by making a triple substitution, with Luke Young, Sam Dalby and Jacob Mendy all making way as Jordan Davies, Steven Fletcher and Anthony Forde joined the fray in the sixty-first minute.

Things settled a little as the game continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball without troubling their opposition defences, but sixty-nine minutes in, Wrexham went close to levelling the scores, as Mullin was found in space, but Smith was alert to the danger and made the save, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

The visiting side went close again in the seventy-third minute, as Elliot Lee fired goal-wards from outside the area, with Smith fortunately able to gather at the second time of asking to deny him an equalising goal.

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, Walsall opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Jack Earing making way for Taylor Allen.

Douglas James-Taylor joined those playing on a caution, in the seventy-sixth minute, as he was shown the yellow card following a foul on Max Cleworth.

The hosts almost extended their lead in the seventy-seventh minute, as Draper crossed the ball to Hutchinson, who fired goal-wards from twenty-five yards out, narrowly missing the target.

Wrexham went close to levelling the scores in the eighty-first minute, as Mullin fired goal-wards from twenty-five yards, but his effort struck the crossbar.

The visiting side made a fourth change to their line-up in the eighty-second minute, with Max Cleworth being replaced by Ryan Barnett for the closing minutes.

Walsall secured their third goal of the evening in the eighty-third minute, as an effort from David Okagbue ricocheted into the path of Allen, who fired home, all but putting the game to bed.

Wrexham looked to get back into the game, with an eighty-sixth minute effort from Lee, but his strike from outside the area failed to test Smith in the Walsall goal, as it sailed high and wide of the target.

Four additional minutes were added to end the match, during which time, McClean forced a fine save from the Walsall shot-stopper, and Tom Knowles joined those listed in the referee's notebook, as he was cautioned for a foul on Cannon, though nothing would come of the resulting free-kick and the game was brought to it's conclusion with the Saddlers winning by three-goals-to-one.

FULL-TIME
WALSALL 3-1 WREXHAM
EARING (16')
HUTCHINSON (60')
ALLEN (83')
MULLIN (P) (24')


AT POUNDLAND BESCOT STADIUM
REFEREE PAUL HOWARD
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