Match Report: AFC Wimbledon 5 Walsall 1 Match Report: AFC Wimbledon 5 Walsall 1
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: AFC Wimbledon 5 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' season-ending meeting with AFC Wimbledon.
Walsall made their way to the Cherry Reds Records Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they took on AFC Wimbledon in their final game of an eventful 2023/24 League Two campaign.

Looking for a miracle, the Saddlers were looking to register a comfortable win whilst also hoping results elsewhere went their way.

Ahead of kick-off the stadium stood in rapturous applause as the Dons paid tribute to former manager Joe Kinnear who recently passed away.

Both sides took some time to settle into the game, both spending time on the ball without creating much of note.

Supporters came together in the eighth minute, in memory of eight-year-old Walsall supporter, Verity Sheldon, who recently passed away.

Nine minutes into the contest, Wimbledon took the lead, as Lee Brown delivered a cross into the box for Omar Bugiel, who rose well and headed past Walsall shot-stopper, Jackson Smith into the top corner.

Walsall looked to respond quickly to falling a goal behind, with Ryan Stirk crossing the ball in for Donervon Daniels, in the twelfth minute, but the defenders strike from outside the area was blocked by the Wimbledon defences.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy a brighter spell, going close in the twentieth minute, as Taylor Allen crossed the ball in for Jamille Matt to head goal-wards, but the striker was unable to direct his effort on target, sending it high and wide.

Walsall were awarded a penalty in the twenty-fourth minute, as Kofi Balmer fouled Mo Faal inside the area. Isaac Hutchinson stepped forth to take the spot-kick, and duly converted, levelling the scores.

The visiting side continued to press, with Hutchinson looking to play in Jamille Matt, in the twenty-ninth minute, with the ball bouncing back to the former, who fired goal-wards from distance, seeing his effort sail high over the crossbar.

Unperturbed, the Saddlers continued to seek a second goal, with Priestley Farquharson playing in Matt, in the thirty-third minute, but the strikers shot from outside the area was well saved by Wimbledon goalkeeper, Nik Tzanev.

The hosts worked the ball up to the other end quickly, and within a minute of the Walsall chance, put themselves ahead, as Brown crossed the ball into the box for Bugiel to secure his second goal of the afternoon.

There was a pause in proceedings in the fortieth minute, allowing Daniels to receive attention from the medical team, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Walsall went close to restoring parity in the forty-fourth minute, as the ball fell to Faal, but the strikers effort sailed over the crossbar from close range, moments after Farquharson had seen a strike sail wide.

Seven minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time Tom Knowles worked the ball into the Wimbledon box for Matt, but the striker was unable to find space to get a clean shot away, and lofted his effort over the bar.

Walsall continued to press, late into added time, winning a corner six minutes in, as James Ball turned the ball behind, but nothing would come of the flag-kick.

Seven minutes into those added, Mo Faal picked up the first yellow card of the game, as he was cautioned following a foul on Kofi Balmer.

That would be the final action of note for the first-half, and the referee's whistle sounded with the scores unchanged; the teams heading off to their respective dressing rooms with Wimbledon leading by two-goals-to-one.

HALF-TIME
WIMBLEDON 2-1 WALSALL

The teams returned unchanged after the break, and play got back underway. Wimbledon began the second-half brightly, and felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the fifty-first minute, as Josh Kelly went down inside the area, but the officials were unmoved by their appeals and the referee waved play on.

Just one minute later, the hosts added to their tally, as long throw from Balmer found Bugiel, who got enough of a touch on the ball to send it past Smith, to secure his hat-trick, with the help of a deflection.

Just three minutes later, with fifty-five minutes on the clock, Wimbledon made it four, as Bugiel turned provider, heading the ball on for Ronan Curtis, who fired home from the centre of the box to all but put the game to bed.

Walsall opted to make their first change of the afternoon in the fifty-ninth minute, with Ryan Stirk making way for Jamie Jellis.

The hosts continued to press, winning a corner kick in the sixty-first minute, as Daniels was forced to turn a Curtis strike behind, and from the flag-kick, Faal headed into his own net to gift the hosts a fifth.

Wimbledon chose to make their first change of the afternoon in the sixty-fifth minute, with James Ball making way for Harry Pell.

The game was paused in the sixty-eighth minute, allowing Priestley Farquharson to receive attention from the medical team. It was soon determined that he would be unable to continue, and Emmanuel Adegboyega was brought on in his place. The Saddlers also took the opportunity to make two further changes to their line-up, with Mo Faal and Jamille Matt making way for Josh Gordon and Douglas James-Taylor.

Walsall almost pulled a goal back in the seventy-seventh minute, as Hutchinson played the ball through for Josh Gordon, who failed to control, with it eventually finding James-Taylor, but his effort on goal was dragged wide.

Ten minutes from time, Wimbledon chose to make two substitutions, with Aron Sasu and Omar Bugiel making way for Josh Neufville and Josh Davison.

Walsall were forced to make their final change of the afternoon moments later, as Tom Knowles picked up a knock, forcing him from the game, with Danny Johnson taking his place.

The visitors went close again in the eighty-sixth minute, as Jellis picked out Josh Gordon with a cross, but after cutting inside, the striker curled his effort inches over the crossbar.

Wimbledon were almost gifted a sixth goal, in the eighty-eighth minute, as a poor pass from Daniels was intercepted by the hosts, but fortunately for the visiting side, Adegboyega on hand to spare his captain's blushes, making a late challenge to deny Davison.

Nine additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time Wimbledon chose to make their final two changes, with Kofi Balmer and Josh Kelly making way for Isaac Ogundere and John-Kymani Gordon.

There was little further action of note, and the match was brought to it's conclusion with Wimbledon winning by five-goals-to-one. A disappointing way to end the campaign for the Saddlers.

FULL-TIME
WIMBLEDON 5-1 WALSALL
BUGIEL (9')
BUGIEL (34')
BUGIEL (52')
CURTIS (55')
FAAL [OG] (62')
HUTCHINSON [P] (25')




AT CHERRY RED RECORDS STADIUM
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