Walsall succumbed to a 4-2 home defeat against Port Vale in a well fought match on Saturday.
The game started at a very fast pace with both teams looking evenly matched. Walsall had the first attack as Jonas Mukuna and Marv Onabirekhanlen linked up well on the edge of the 18-yard box. However, the shot was tame and easy for the travelling keeper to gather.
Walsall saw their second chance of the game go begging as well, when Onabirekhanlen made progress down the left flank, the striker found Arjun Toor in the box, but the number nine was only able to direct the ball over the crossbar.
Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead with their first attempt as the ball was met by the head of Port Vale striker Elijah Fisher. The striker was able to direct the ball into the top left corner out of Jenson Kilroy’s reach.
Midway through the first half, Walsall worked the ball well down the left hand side. Dylan Thomas took the ball into the box and was brought down and the Saddlers were awarded a penalty. The home side took their chance to level with Antonio Cristofaro calmly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner from the spot kick.
Maintaining the pressure from the first whistle, Walsall then took the lead through Onabirekhanlen. The striker pounced on a defensive error in the final third to score the home side’s second.
The lead would be short lived as Port Vale drew level seconds after restarting the game as the ball rolled under Kilroy’s gloves at the near post.
As the game drew towards half time both teams seemed to settle into the game. This would prove costly for Walsall as their early pressure dropped and the visitors were able to retake the lead from a tap in at the far post after a cross from the left found its way through a crowded six yard box.
The Saddlers would see a double chance wasted as Toor found himself through on goal after some neat footwork on the ball, but his shot was saved by Reuben Perry in the Vale goal. A rebound would fall to Mukuna who could only blaze the shot wide and out for a throw in.
On the counter Port Vale winger Tommy McDermott would force an athletic save from Kilroy to stop the visitors taking a two goal lead.
McDermott gave the visitors the first chance of the second half. Port Vale were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. McDermott shot wide searching for the bottom left corner, with Kilroy at full stretch.
Kilroy would have a nervous few seconds as a lofted cross into his box got caught in the wind and almost found its way into the back of the net. Luckily for the Saddlers number one, the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
Port Vale again saw a chance go begging as they looked to extend their lead. Rhys Walters saw his shot saved but tipped into the path of Che Trapasso, but his shot was weak and Kilroy was able to scramble and gather the ball for a second time.
The visitors extended their lead to 4-2 in the 69th minute. The goal came from Walsall losing their shape as centre back Malik Olumegbon stepped out leaving a gap in the back line. Port Vale would took advantage sending a lofted pass into the gap and slotted home their fourth.
Despite the result Walsall contested well throughout, but unfortunately on this occasion, they were unable to take their chances when they arose.