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Match Reports

REPORT | Walsall 2 Rovers 1

8 May 2023

Match Reports

REPORT | Walsall 2 Rovers 1

8 May 2023

Rovers signed off for the season with a 2-1 defeat at Walsall.

After an even opening 45 minutes, a sluggish start to the second period from Rovers proved costly as the hosts opened up a cushion with goals from Conor Wilkinson and Issac Hutchinson.

Bobby Faulkner produced a brilliant finish with six minutes of the 90 remaining but Rovers could not find the equaliser.

Danny Schofield made three changes to the side that started the win over Colchester United with Adam Long, Kyle Hurst and Jack Degruchy coming into the XI - the latter for his first senior league start.

Zain Westbrooke skidded an early 25 yard drive off the slick playing surface with Walsall’s debutant keeper Jackson Smith spilling his initial save.

Walsall began to look a threat, particularly down their right side. Chief architect Tom Knowles carried the ball to the byline and cut a pass back only for Matt Stevens to sidefoot wide from a great position.

Harrison Biggins sent a header straight at Smith as he met a testing cross from captain Tommy Rowe.

Knowles sliced an effort wide from 20 yards as the hosts continued to pose the greater danger in the opening 15 minutes. He brought the ball down well inside the box and shifted it across his body before drilling for the near post, but Louis Jones ushered the effort behind.

Jones was alert again to deny Stevens from point blank range as Rovers came through Walsall’s spell of pressure and grew into the contest themselves.

Hurst intercepted a pass in the middle of the park and powered forward before firing wide from the edge of the box.

Isaac Hutchinson sent an effort narrowly wide after jinking into space on the corner of the box. The hosts should have been ahead on the stroke of half time when Knowles raced in to meet a Liam Gordon cross but sent his header straight at Jones.

Walsall started the second half the brighter and Knowles fired wide from 15 yards in the early stages.

Stevens was played into acres of space on the left of the box but could only fire into the sidenetting.

Jones produced an outstanding save when Hutchinson’s powerful strike took a wicked deflection on its way through.

But Walsall did take the lead on 57 minutes. Liam Gordon clipped the ball across from the byline with Wilkinson controlling and hooking a shot home from eight yards.

Rovers looked for a way back into the contest and almost found it when Degruchy curled in a superb cross which Aidan Barlow looked to chest home only to be denied by Smith.

It was Walsall who found the next goal. Stevens held the ball up well inside the Rovers box and laid off to Hutchinson who lashed in a shot on the angle.

Rovers had a big shout for a penalty turned down as the game ticked into the final ten minutes with substitute Jack Goodman appearing to have been bundled over inside the box.

Rowe produced a piledriver from the edge of the box which Smith did just enough to turn behind at his near post.

But Rovers pulled a goal back from the subsequent corner when Faulkner latched onto a loose ball and drilled a first time effort into the top corner.

Rovers pushed for the equaliser with Barlow firing wide from 20 yards but that was as close as it came.

Walsall: Smith, Riley, Low, Monthe, Gordon, Knowles (Maher 89), McEntee (Daniels 89), Comley, Hutchinson, Wilkinson, Stevens (Matt 80). Subs not used: Barrett, Kinsella, Onabirekhalen.

Rovers: Jones, Faulkner, Long (Olowu 79), Rowe, Degruchy (Maxwell 68), Westbrooke, Biggins, Seaman, Hurst, Barlow, Miller (Goodman 65). Subs not used: Mitchell, Kuleya.


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