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24 February 2018 Venue Banks's Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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Match Reports

Walsall 1-2 Blackburn

24 February 2018

The Saddlers’ four-match unbeaten run came to an end despite a spirited second-half performance against League One leaders Blackburn.

A Danny Graham double put Rovers in the ascendancy, but Jack Fitzwater’s strike in the stroke of half-time gave Walsall hope.

The hosts bossed the second half, forcing visiting keeper David Raya into two fine stops from Erhun Oztumer and Julien Ngoy, but Rovers just about held on.

The match started brightly, with Saddlers vice-captain Joe Edwards firing wide after dispossessing Ryan Nyambe and Rovers’ Elliott Bennett seeing a powerful drive blocked by Luke Leahy.

Tony Mowbray’s table-topping side were enjoying the lion’s share of possession and went ahead on 17 minutes.

Elliott Bennett’s over-hit cross was controlled superbly by Adam Armstrong, who drilled in a low centre which broke kindly for Danny Graham to fire home his 150th career goal from close range.

The Saddlers responded with Nicky Devlin sending in a cross which was cleared as far as George Dobson, whose goalbound strike was blocked by Darragh Lenihan.

Title-chasing Blackburn doubled their lead on 26 minutes when Bennett’s right-wing cross was headed down by Jack Payne for Graham to nod home his second of the afternoon.

Graham almost completed his hat-trick just past the half-hour, volleying wide at the near post from Bennett’s delivery.

Only the woodwork denied Rovers four minutes later as Payne’s excellent lofted through ball released Armstrong, who clattered the bar with an angled drive.

Walsall grabbed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Dobson’s corner was hooked back in by Edwards for Jack Fitzwater to volley into the roof of the net.

With renewed belief, the hosts threatened an equaliser seven minutes after the restart but Edwards’ right-footed shot from the corner of the box was held by Rovers keeper David Raya.

Blackburn nearly restored their two-goal cushion on 69 minutes when Dominic Samuel headed fellow substitute Marcus Antonsson’s cross down into the ground and over the bar.

The Saddlers began to increase the pressure with 20 minutes remaining, Erhun Oztumer going close with a curling left-footed free-kick from 20 yards which a diving Raya tipped over.

The Spanish stopper made another fine stop moments later, rushing off his line to deny Julien Ngoy from Dobson’s penetrative pass.

Despite continuing to push for a forward, that proved Walsall’s final real chance as Blackburn clung on for all three points.

 

Team: L Roberts, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Leahy, Chambers, Edwards (Kouhyar 67’), Dobson, Morris, Oztumer, Shaibu (Ngoy 64’).

Subs not used: Gillespie, Cuvelier, Kinsella, Flanagan, K Roberts.

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