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Walsall 4 Rovers 2

13 February 2018

Goals from Tommy Rowe and Niall Mason were not enough as Rovers fell to defeat at Walsall.

The hosts took total control of the game in the first-half, with Rowe striking and Mason converting a penalty in the closing stages as Rovers threatened a comeback..

The opening stages saw neither side able to create a clear-cut chance, with both teams looking to get a foothold in the game at a freezing cold Banks’s Stadium.
 
The Saddlers had the game’s opening opportunity, as Luke Leahy cut inside from the right, but his shot was deflected behind by Andy Boyle.
 
Ben Whiteman was first to try his luck for Rovers, as he picked up the ball after good work by Matty Blair, but he could only curl over from just outside the box.
 
Two goals in two minutes saw the hosts take complete control of the game. First, Nicky Devlin’s charge down the right-hand side saw him able to loop the ball into the area, in search of Joe Edwards at the back post.
 
Edwards'  header dipped just under the bar to hand the Saddlers the lead. From the next attack, the hosts doubled their advantage, with Edwards grabbing his second.
 
Justin Shaibu collected Leahy’s ball forward, and he pulled the ball back for Edwards, who duly obliged by slotting the ball past Ian Lawlor to give Walsall a two-goal lead inside 25 minutes.
 
Rovers pushed to get themselves back into the game, as Alfie Beestin was tripped on the edge of the area by Adam Chambers, earning  a free-kick. Whiteman stepped up, but he could only curl over once again from 20 yards out from the set-piece.

But they were hit by another sucker punch on the stroke of half-time as Kieron Morris found space down the right-hand side, and he smashed the ball past Lawlor to give Walsall a three-goal advantage at the break.
 
There were no changes at the break, though it was not long into the second-half when James Coppinger came off the bench.
 
Walsall thought they had the game wrapped up when Oztumer sent a ball through the middle and Amadou Bakayoko managed to squeeze the ball underneath the on-rushing Lawlor and extend the lead.

A comeback always looked a long shot, but Rowe’s surge into the box saw him shoot under Liam Roberts and pull a goal back.

And as the game entered stoppage-time Mason stepped up to convert his third penalty of the season after Boyle was pulled down in the area.

Jordan Houghton flashed a late header just wide, but that was the final chance of the game for Rovers.


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