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Blackpool 2 Walsall 0 - Report and pictures

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall missed a host of second-half chances - including a Matt Jarvis penalty - as they fell to a 2-0 loss at Blackpool.

The hosts were the brighter of the two teams in the first-half and took the lead through Chris Long.

But after the break, the game completely turned on its head with Dean Keates' side putting the Tangerines under heavy pressure.

After a number of decent chances, they should have pulled level from the spot when Remi Oteh was fouled by Curtis Tilt.

Jarvis took the penalty but his low strike was saved by Mark Howard.

Despite the miss, the Saddlers continued to press with Oteh forcing the Blackpool keeper into another outstanding stop. Andy Cook then saw a close range strike blocked.

And with Walsall piling forward, the Terry McPhillips' side wrapped things up in the 90th minute when Harry Pritchard fired in following an error from Dan Scarr.

Analysis

In naming his starting line-up, boss Keates opted to make three changes from the team that slipped to defeat against Rochdale.

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For the first time since joining the club, Luke Leahy began a league game on the substitutes bench with Scott Laird coming in at left-back.

In central midfield, George Dobson replaced Isaiah Osbourne while Remi Oteh started up front with Morgan Ferrier ruled out through injury.

It meant the Saddlers continued in a 4-4-2 formation with Matt Jarvis and Nicky Devlin on the wings and Andy Cook joining Oteh in attack.

Blackpool lined up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Nathan Delfouneso, Jordan Thompson and Chris Long operating just behind lone frontman Armand Gnanduillet.

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The Tangerines entered the game looking for a first win in six on home turf.

And after a cagey opening, it was McPhillips' side who opened the scoring with a well-worked goal in the 14th minute.

It was created by Donervon Daniels whose through-ball was perfectly weighted for Long.

And he then brushed off the challenge of Dan Scarr before placing the ball beautifully in the bottom corner.

Just a few minutes later Long almost had second when he again got in-behind the Saddlers defence only this time to be denied by the boot of Liam Roberts.

With Blackpool on top on the pitch, things also turned sour for Walsall in the stands with some fans seemingly fighting amongst themselves.

And after those supporters were ejected, around 40 fans then began an angry exchange with a number of Blackpool stewards.

As the off-field issues began to calm down, Walsall began to improve on it.

And they almost pulled level shortly after the half-hour mark.

Cameron Norman's ball down the line was flicked on by Cook to Devlin.

The Scotsman did well to pick out Oteh with a cross. But while the striker then turned sharply, he needed to move the ball on to an unmarked Jarvis.

Instead, he hit a low drive which sailed straight through to Mark Howard in the Blackpool goal.

From that point, the half remained cagey and uneventful with both teams struggling to create on a poor surface.

But overall it had been the hosts who had moved the ball better before the, with both Cook and Oteh getting little service.

Walsall made a change at the interval with Isaiah Osbourne replacing Dobson - with the 21-year-old seemingly picking up an injury late in the half.

And it was the Saddlers who flew out the blocks following the re-start with Keates' men applying heavy pressure to hosts goal.

An incredible spell of pin-ball in the box saw Joe Edwards, Cook and Jarvis all see shots blocked.

A wonderful Osbourne cross was then begging to be nodded in by Jon Guthrie but the defender failed to connect with the ball.

Walsall were now continually knocking on the door and they should have pulled themselves level in the 66th minute after Oteh won a penalty.

The striker did well to spin Tilt in the box before being dragged down.

Jarvis took the spot-kick but his low effort was saved by Howard.

Incredibly a few minutes later it looked as though Keates' men should have another spot-kick.

A ball into the box looked to hit the arm of Tilt. But in the moment, Oteh seized possession and then saw a shot just six-yards out brilliantly tipped over by the keeper.

With his side needing lifting, Keates introduced Corey Blackett Taylor for Jarvis and Zeli Ismail for Devlin.

Walsall continued to pile on the pressure with Cook battling in the box before seeing a low drive blocked.

Keates men had dominated the entire half. But as the clock ticked towards the 90 minute mark, Blackpool put the game to bed.

After initially doing well to track Gnanduillet and win the ball in the box, Scarr then tried to play his way out of trouble.

But he was robbed of possession by Pritchard who then had a simple finish from close range.

Teams

Blackpool: Howard, Daniels, Heneghan, Tilt, Delfouneso (Evans 71), Pritchard, Thompson, Turton, Bola, Long (Virtue 61), Gnanduillet.

Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Dodoo, Kirby, Sorensen, Shaw.

Walsall: Roberts, Laird, Guthrie, Scarr, Norman, Jarvis (Blackett-Taylor 72), Dobson (Osbourne 46), Edwards, Devlin (Ismail 78), Cook Oteh.

Subs not used: Dunn, Leahy, Ismail, Fitzwater, Gordon.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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