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Match Reports

REPORT | Walsall 3 Rovers 1

2 March 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Walsall 3 Rovers 1

2 March 2024

Rovers saw their unbeaten run brought to an end with a 3-1 defeat at Walsall.

Kyle Hurst had deservedly drawn Rovers level after Josh Gordon gave the hosts the lead only for Jack Earing and Mo Faal to take the game away.

Rovers dominated possession for large swathes of the game and had built up good attacking momentum by the time Hurst volleyed them level.

But Earing’s goal proved timely for Walsall, as they went on to claim a fifth straight victory and further boost their play-off aspirations.

Grant McCann made one change from the side that started the win over AFC Wimbledon with Kyle Hurst replacing the injured Luke Molyneux. Zain Westbrooke made his return to the matchday squad among the substitutes following injury while new signing Maxime Biamou was also among the substitutes.

Walsall made the brighter start and had Rovers on the back foot in the early stages without truly testing Thimothée Lo-Tutala.

They took the lead on 18 minutes. Liam Gordon intercepted a pass from Jamie Sterry and curled a fine ball into the middle where Josh Gordon powered a header into the far corner.

There was almost disaster two minutes later when Tom Anderson sent a header back towards Lo-Tutala which looped over the Rovers keeper and threatened to roll in. But Anderson raced back and hooked the ball off the line.

Rovers saw plenty of the ball but mostly in their own half as Walsall cut off supply lines into midfield.

But as the half wore on, they moved the ball through the lines much better and the threat they posed increased.

Harrison Biggins headed a James Maxwell cross on goal as Rovers tested Walsall keeper Jackson Smith for the first time.

Owen Bailey looked to pick his spot with a curling strike but Smith proved equal to it with a low stooping save.

And Rovers were somehow denied an equalising in a goalmouth scramble just before the break. Anderson headed a corner back into the middle, with Joe Ironside and Bailey both looking to turn the ball home only to see their efforts blocked.

Defender Emmanuel Adegboyega embarked on a mazy run for Walsall as half time neared and fired wide of the near post from the corner of the box.

Rovers continued to look the more threatening side in the early stages of the second half and worked the ball into dangerous areas.

They were almost caught out on the break however as a fortunate ricochet put Isaac Hutchinson through on goal, only for Lo-Tutala to race out of his goal and make a fine save.

Hakeeb Adelakun narrowly missed connecting with a low centre from James Maxwell but Rovers equalised moments later.

Sterry sent in a superb cross from the right which Hurst met at the back post with a sidefoot volley to equalise.

But parity would only last five minutes. Earing latched onto a half clearance from a corner before lashing an angled drive into the far corner.

Rovers pushed to draw level but Walsall were happy to soak up pressure and look to catch them on the break.

It was from a set piece that Walsall extended their advantage when former Rovers loanee Faal rose at the near post to head home a corner with nine minutes remaining.

David Okagbue fired in again for Walsall in the dying minutes only to be denied by the assistant’s flag.

Rovers: Lo-Tutala, Sterry, Anderson, Wood (Olowu 83), Maxwell (Rowe 75), Bailey (Westbrooke 75), Craig, Adelakun, Biggins (Biamou 83), Hurst (Waters 75), Ironside. Subs not used: Jones, Broadbent.

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