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Match Report: Walsall bow out of Carabao Cup with shootout defeat to Doncaster

10 August 2021

Walsall bowed out of the Carabao Cup after 4-3 penalty shootout defeat against League One side Doncaster Rovers.

The Saddlers played out a 0-0 draw despite creating a handful of good opportunities and more than matching the opposition. 

Head Coach Matt Taylor made three changes to the side that lost on the opening day against Tranmere Rovers as Kieran Phillips, Tom Leak and Rollin Menayese all came in to replace Manny Monthe, Liam Kinsella and Stephen Ward respectively. 

It was the Saddlers who started the brighter of the two sides as Conor Wilkinson played in Tyrese Shade with the loanee going up against his opposing full back before unleashing a shot which went inches wide of the far post via a deflection. 

From the resulting corner, Emmanuel Osadebe whipped the ball to the back post where Menayese was unmarked but his header was just wide of the post. 

It was then just after the half hour mark when Taylor’s side went close again. Osadebe again whipped a corner into the box and Wilkinson this time met it with his head and a deflection looked to have taken it past Rovers keeper Pontus Dahlberg but he pushed it onto the post and claimed it at the second attempt. 

Seconds after that chance, Phillips was played in down the left and he skipped past his marker but a last ditch block denied him from opening the scoring. 

Into the second half and the Saddlers were once again the team on the charge. Another bit of great link up from Wilkinson saw Phillips in a one-v-one situation and as he rounded the defender, his left-footed effort dragged agonisingly wide of the far post. 

As the clock hit 65 minutes, substitute Brandon Horton thought he was about to open the scoring for the visitors but his effort at the back post was kept out by a fingertip save from Carl Rushworth.

With just shy of 15 minutes left to play, Rushworth was once again called into action, this time producing an even better save as Aidan Barlow tried his luck with an overhead kick but the on loan Brighton and Hove Albion man pushed the ball over the bar with a flying save. 

With two minutes left to play, the visitors were reduced to 10-men as substitute AJ Greaves was shown a straight red card for a dangerous late challenge on fellow substitute Jack Earing.

It finished all square after 90 minutes and the game had to be decided by a penalty shootout. 

The Saddlers went found themselves 2-1 up with one penalty left to take after Carl Rushworth pulled off two fantastic saves. 

Brendan Kiernan stepped up to take the fifth penalty but saw his spot kick saved by Dahlberg. 

Aidan Barlow levelled for Doncaster and the shootout went to sudden death. 

Stephen Ward and Tom Anderson both netted to make it 6-6. 

Liam Kinsella was up next but he blazed over from the spot. 

Kyle Knoyle had the chance to win it for Doncaster and did just that with a smart finish and the Saddlers bowed out of the Carabao Cup. 

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