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Match Reports

Match Report: Walsall 1-2 Bristol Rovers

7 November 2020

Walsall bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup after they were narrowly beaten by League One side Bristol Rovers.

Jack Baldwin and Brandon Hanlan netted for the visitors with two first half goals to put the visitors in control.

Walsall improved in the second half and Caolan Lavery pulled one back late on for the Saddlers as they pushed to force extra time but they couldn’t find a second.

Darrell Clarke made one change to the side that beat Crawley Town on Tuesday night.

Stuart Sinclair came in to face his former club in place of Alfie Bates.

Walsall were missing Danny Guthrie, George Nurse, James Clarke and Josh Gordon.

Former Saddlers midfielder Erhun Oztumer was in the starting XI for the visitors and almost made an immediate impact on his return to the Banks’s Stadium when he dragged a shot just wide after three minutes.

Walsall’s first chance came after nine minutes when Rory Holden’s free-kick was flicked on towards Mat Sadler at the back post who volleyed first time but he didn’t catch it how he would have liked and the ball trickled wide.

Rovers controlled the opening 20 minutes and had a couple of openings as Hanlan had a header cleared from the goal mouth by Cameron Norman before Oztumer fed Nicholson arrowed a shot across goal that wasn’t far off target.

Walsall began to come into it as the half went on and had a chance through Wes McDonald when he darted down the left-hand side, beat his man and blazed a shot over the bar.

It was Rovers who opened the scoring though on 32 minutes when Baldwin headed them into lead from a corner.

The visitors doubled their lead seven minutes later in stunning fashion when Hanlan curled in a beauty into the far corner from outside the box.

Rovers started the second half strongly and came close twice when Ali Koiki’s cross was deflected onto the bar by Norman before Hanlan skipped into the area and shot wide.

Clarke made a double change on 58 minutes as Sinclair and Sadler made way for Alfie Bates and Callum Cockerill-Mollett.

Scrimshaw was also introduced in place of Adebayo five minutes later to add fresh impetus to Walsall’s attack.

The Saddlers had a spell of pressure after the substitutions and came close on 68 minutes when McDonald’s curling shot was tipped over by Jaakola.

Walsall’s best chance of the game came on 72 minutes when Holden played in Lavery with a brilliant ball over the top and he dances into the area before he rifled in a low shot but it cannoned off the post.

The Saddlers kept probing and were in no mood to give up and their persistence was rewarded with three minutes of normal time to go when Caolan Lavery headed in Bates’ free-kick to set up a grand stand finish.

Walsall were boosted when the fourth official showed six minutes of added time but they couldn’t find a leveller despite their best efforts.


Roberts; Norman, Scarr, Sadler (Cockerill-Mollett 58’), Jules; Holden, Kinsella, Sinclair (Bates 68’), McDonald; Lavery, Adebayo (Scrimshaw 63’)
Subs: Rose (GK), White, Osadebe, George


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