Match Report: Walsall 2 Bradford City 3 Match Report: Walsall 2 Bradford City 3
Posted by: Bescot Banter

Match Report: Walsall 2 Bradford City 3

Here is our Match Report from the Saddlers' League Two meeting with Bradford City.
Walsall welcomed Bradford City to the Poundland Bescot Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they hoped to keep their hopes of making the Play-Offs alive by securing a second win in as many games.

After defeating Swindon Town in midweek, Mat Sader's team had kept their dreams alive but would need to follow up on that result at the expense of the Bantams in front of an expectant crowd in WS1.

Walsall began the game brightly, winning a free-kick, twenty-five yards from goal, just one minute in, as Mo Faal was felled by Matthew Platt. Isaac Hutchinson fired the set-piece into the wall, but Liam Gordon picked up the loose ball to keep the momentum going, and ultimately force a corner, which came to nothing.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy a bright start, and just seven minutes in, opened the scoring, as Hutchinson broke with the ball before crossing into the box for Ryan Stirk, who had space to take a touch before firing goal-wards, finding the bottom corner to secure his third goal of the campaign.

The home side continued to press, with Stirk looking to turn provider in the eleventh minute, as he crossed the ball in for Josh Gordon, who headed goal-wards from the centre of the box, but saw his effort sail over the crossbar.

Things settled a little as the game continued, but sixteen minutes in, Walsall doubled their advantage, as the Bradford defences failed to deal with a long ball forward from Saddlers shot-stopper, Jackson Smith, allowing Faal to capitalise, heading over onrushing City 'keeper, Sam Walker, into the back of the net.

Bradford grew into the game, halving the hosts advantage in the nineteenth minute, as Jamie Walker crossed the ball in towards the back post, where former Saddler, Andy Cook was waiting to nod home.

Walsall responded well, racing back up to the other end, within a minute of the goal, where Hutchinson found space to shoot, but his long range effort struck the post.

The hosts continued to seek further goals, with Hutchinson crossing the ball in for Stirk, whose strike was well saved by Sam Walker, before Liam Gordon connected with the rebound, and fired over.

Bradford were presented with an opportunity to level the scores in the twenty-fifth minute, with Richard Smallwood playing in Jamie Walker, but the midfielders effort failed to trouble Smith as it sailed wide of the target.

Things settled as the game continued, with both sides enjoying spells on the ball, without creating much to trouble their opposition defences.

Taylor Allen became the first player to see yellow, as he was cautioned following a foul on Bobby Pointon, in the thirty-second minute.

Things remained settled, until, in the fortieth minute, Bradford levelled the scores, as a free-kick was floated in towards the back post for Cook, who headed the ball on for Jamie Walker, who nodded home.

The visitors continued to press, as they looked to take the lead for the first time in the game, with Smith forced to make a good save in the forty-second minute to deny Pointon.

Five additional minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time, Ciarán Kelly joined Allen in the referee's notebook, being shown the yellow card following a foul on Josh Gordon.

There was little further action of note, and the sides headed off to enjoy their half-time refreshments with the scores tied at two-goals-apiece.


The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the action got back underway. Bradford began the second-half brightly, with Cook forcing David Okagbue to turn the ball behind for a corner in the forty-eighth minute, before another flag-kick followed moments later as a Pointon strike was turned behind, though nothing would come of either.

Eight minutes into the second-half, Bradford took the lead, as a Cook header was blocked by Allen, with Jamie Walker on hand to pick up the loose ball and fire home.

Walsall looked to respond quickly to falling behind, racing up to the other end, where Hutchinson attempted to find the target from range, but his shot failed to test the man between the sticks, sailing wide.

Bradford went close again at the other end, in the fifty-eighth minute, as a low strike from Brad Halliday was turned goal-wards by Calum Kavanagh, but Smith was alert to the danger and got down well to make the save.

Jamie Walker joined those playing on a caution, in the fifty-ninth minute, as he was cautioned following a foul on Smith.

As we reached the hour mark, Walsall opted to make their first changes of the afternoon, with Brandon Comley, Joe Foulkes and Josh Gordon making way as Ross Tierney, Tom Knowles and Jamille Matt joined the fray.

The hosts almost levelled the scores in the sixty-second minute, as Hutchinson played the ball through, into the path of Matt, but the City shot-stopper was alert to the danger and made the save.

Tyreik Wright joined those playing on a caution, in the sixty-seventh minute, with his name added to the referee's notebook for time wasting.

Bradford saw their number reduced in the sixty-eighth minute, as Jamie Walker was shown his second yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Tierney, and was given his marching orders.

The resulting free-kick was played in by Hutchinson, but his teammates were unable to get a touch to turn it goal-wards as it travelled through the crowded box and narrowly wide of the far post.

Walsall continued to press, as they sought to draw level, with Knowles seeing an effort curl inches over the crossbar, twenty minutes from time.

Bradford chose to make their first changes of the afternoon, in the seventy-third minute, with Bobby Pointon and Calum Kavanagh making way for Jonathon Tomkinson and Alex Gilliead. Walsall also took the opportunity to introduce some fresh legs, with Mo Faal departing in favour of Danny Johnson.

Another Walsall substitution followed in the seventy-ninth minute, with David Okagbue being replaced by Douglas James-Taylor for the run in.

There was a brief halt to proceedings in the eighty-first minute, allowing Ciarán Kelly to receive attention from the medical team. It was soon determined that he would be unable to continue, and Clarke Oduor was brought on in his place.

Walsall saw much of the ball as the game continued, but were unable to break through the Bradford defences to create any meaningful chances to level the scores, though they did go close in the eighty-seventh minute, as a Knowles strike was deflected onto first the upright then the crossbar, before Sam Walker cleared the danger.

City chose to make another change in the eighty-ninth minute, with former Saddler, Tyreik Wright making way for Lewis Richards.

Seven additional minutes were added to end the game, during which time, Walsall went close to restoring parity, as Tierney crossed the ball into the area for James-Taylor, but Walker was on hand again to keep the visitors ahead.

Walsall continued to press, winning a corner four minutes into added time, as Walker turned a Knowles effort behind, but nothing would come of the flag-kick as the City defences stood firm.

Tom Knowles and Richard Smallwood were both shown the yellow card in the ninety-fifth minute, as the pair were cautioned for arguing.

That would be the final action of note, as time was called on the contest, with Bradford winning by three-goals-to-two. A frustrating afternoon from the Saddlers, who looked to have things under control early in the match, only to allow their opponents right back into it.

STIRK (7')
FAAL (16')

COOK (19')
J.WALKER (40')
J.WALKER (53')
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