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Rovers 0 Walsall 3

21 October 2017

It was a slow start to the game at a blustery Keepmoat Stadium, but it was the hosts who had the game’s opening chance.

Ben Whiteman’s ball over the top found Tommy Rowe in space down the right, and whilst his shot was blocked up into the air, the ball fell to John Marquis to slot home.

The referee brought the ball back for a foul on Walsall keeper Mark Gillespie by Liam Mandeville, leaving the Saddlers’ defence feeling very relieved.

Rovers' next chance came just moments later, this time Niall Mason’s ball into the box was met by Harry Toffolo at the back post, but the advancing left-back could only head straight at Gillespie.

It was Rovers who were doing all the pressing, and their next chance came from a corner on the left, which brought them success in their last home game too.

Toffolo’s set-piece was drilled in and met by the head of Andy Butler, but the former Saddlers defender could only head wide under pressure.

Whiteman was next to cause the Saddlers’ defence, with the midfielder linking up with Marquis and Mandeville, but he could only curl wide from just outside the area.

Rovers continued to press and next went closest through Butler, and once again he wasn’t far away from opening the scoring.

A free-kick was floated in by Toffolo and after a scramble in the Walsall box, the ball fell to Butler at the back post, and his ambitious volley went wide of Gillespie’s far post.

The home side then should have gone a goal up as the game drifted towards half-time, with two opportunities to open the scoring.

A one-two between Rowe and Marquis on the edge of the area opened up space for Rowe to curl low past Gillespie, but he could only strike the base of the post, with the rebound being met by Marquis on the edge of the six-yard box.

Marquis’ tame effort went just wide of the post, as Rovers went agonisingly close to going in front just before the referee’s whistle for the break, meaning that the sides went down the tunnel goalless at half-time.

After the break, Rovers came out firing, and had two early chances to open the scoring.

First, a great break forward from Toffolo saw the ball end up at the feet of Rowe, but his shot was blocked by James Wilson and deflected wide.

From the resulting corner, another Toffolo set-piece caused the Saddlers’ problems, and after yet another scramble, the ball fell to Mandeville.

The young striker was unable to follow up from his goal against Portsmouth in midweek however, as he drilled his effort into the ground before being collected comfortably by Gillespie.

Walsall’s first real chance of the game came through Luke Edwards, as the midfielder’s cross-shot fizzed just wide of Ian Lawlor’s far post, but it wasn’t enough to trouble the Irishman.

Rovers didn’t let this little blip halt their progress, and Rowe again was at the centre of their next effort on goal.

He played a one-two with substitute Rodney Kongolo, and then turned his man in the box, but his shot on goal was this time blocked by Adam Chambers to ensure that the scores stayed level.

Against the run of play though, it was the visitors who did take the lead. Joe Wright’s attempt to let the ball run out of play saw him dispossessed by Tyler Roberts, and hesitation between Craig Alcock and Lawlor saw Erhun Oztumer pick up the ball.

Oztumer made no mistake as he ran past both to slot the ball home and hand the Saddlers the lead with an hour gone.

Rovers came forward straight away, now looking to get an equaliser. Alcock sent a ball into the box for James Coppinger to flick a header towards goal, but his deft touch wasn’t enough to trouble Gillespie who claimed the ball easily in the air under pressure from Marquis.

For all the pressing Rovers had done throughout the game, it was all to be undone just moments later.

Edwards collected the ball at half-way for the Saddlers, and was left to run forward unchallenged by the Rovers defence.

The midfielder spotted Oztumer in acres of space over to his right, and he rounded Lawlor and scored his second goal in six minutes to double the visitors’ lead.

Rovers went close to halving the deficit through Whiteman as the game entered the last ten minutes, as good work to the right by Coppinger and Kongolo saw the ball find Whiteman.

His curler looked destined for the bottom corner, but Gillespie somehow got down low to his left to tip around the post for a Rovers corner.

From this corner though, the game was ended as a contest as the Saddlers wrapped up the three points on the break.

Toffolo’s corner was cleared out to Kongolo, who was challenged by Amadou Bakayoko near half-way and he charged down on goal.

Bakayoko was joined on the break by substitute Kieron Morris, and he smashed home past Lawlor for the Saddlers’ third to ensure that they would be travelling back to the West Midlands

with all three points.
Rovers did have one final chance to find a consolation goal through Rowe as the game drew to a

close, but he could only fire over from outside the area.
Rovers now travel to Bury next weekend, looking to get back to winning ways on the road in Sky Bet League One.

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