Walsall 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • December 12, 2020 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/7f7f4

Bolton's recent resurgence has hit a roadblock after they suffered back-to-back defeats with a 2-1 loss at Walsall.

Wanderers did take a 13th-minute lead at the Banks's Stadium as Eoin Doyle tapped in an eighth goal of the season, but the Saddlers responded to go in level at the break as Elijah Adebayo headed in from close range.

The visitors were poor in the second period, failing to muster any further attempts on target, and they were punished on 57 minutes as Rory Holden smashed home a free-kick from the edge of the box following a foul by Ryan Delaney.

Despite being on the receiving end of a 6-3 drubbing at the hands of Port Vale last time out, Ian Evatt opted to stick with the same starting line-up for the trip to the Midlands - with George Thomason retaining his place in midfield ahead of both Tom White and Brandon Comley, who were named amongst the substitutes.

Walsall burst out of the starting blocks and put Wanderers under some serious pressure in the early stages, with West McDonald curling a strike over the crossbar with less than two minutes played.

At the other end, Nathan Delfouneso turned away from his man and played a pass to Peter Kioso, whose effort from the right-hand side was gathered by Saddlers goalkeeper Jack Rose.

Delfouneso was involved again on 13 minutes, receiving possession from Ali Crawford on the right before crossing to the far post where Doyle was on hand to tap in from close range to open the scoring.

It wasn't until the 26th minute that the next opportunity arrived, with Holden cutting inside for Walsall before seeing a low drive with his left foot roll comfortably through into the arms of Matt Gilks.

McDonald flashed a shot wide of the far post as the clock ticked towards the half-hour, shortly before Kioso hit the side netting with an effort from a narrow angle which never looked like it would trouble Rose.

Delfouneso headed narrowly over the top after connecting with a cross from Doyle on 35 minutes, moments before appeals for a Walsall penalty were turned down as Kioso timed a challenge perfectly not only to halt McDonald but also win a goal-kick.

Delfouneso lashed over once again with seven minutes of the half to play and he was left frustrated five minutes later when he tapped a cross from Kioso into the net from close range, only for his celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

The visitors had been on top for the majority of the half but couldn't quite take their lead into the break, as Cameron Norman outmuscled his marker somewhat questionably before crossing for Adebayo to head past Gilks from six yards.

The two teams returned unchanged for the second period, which began with Crawford firing a free-kick into a Walsall wall within five minutes of the restart.

The hosts should have gone ahead on 55 minutes as Ricardo Santos was caught in possession. McDonald fed the ball to Holden, who somehow poked wide when found unopposed at the back post.

Holden made amends for his miss just two minutes later as he stood over a free-kick given for a foul by Delaney on Norman. With a Wanderers wall set up, Holden smashed the ball into the opposite corner before Gilks had even had time to react.

Bolton hit back immediately and came close to levelling as Antoni Sarcevic's deflected effort came back off the outside of the post.

Abebayo thought he had made it 3-1 midway through the half, only to be denied by an outstanding reaction save from Gilks, moments before Kioso volleyed wide at the other end following an outstanding counter-attacking move by the visitors.

Doyle sliced high and wide from the edge of the box with 20 minutes to play, before an attacking substitution which saw Arthur Gnahoua come on in place of Crawford backfired horribly when the newly-introduced forward went down just 90 seconds after entering the play.

Gnahoua's afternoon came to an end with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, meaning Ronan Darcy was on in his place.

Darcy struggled to have any impact on the game, however, and with no further chances for either side, it was the Saddlers who ran down the clock to claim victory.

Defeat was the first Bolton have suffered this season having earlier taken a lead and sees them drop to 16th in the League Two table ahead of Tuesday's trip to promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town.

Walsall: Rose, Norman, Scarr, J Clarke, Jules, Bates, Holden, Kinsella, Osadebe (Gordon 74), McDonald (White 85), Adebayo (Lavery 90+2)
Subs Not Used: Roberts, Sinclair, Guthrie, Scrimshaw
Booked: Gordon
Goals: Adebayo 44, Holden 57

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Delaney, Santos, Baptiste, Jones, Thomason (White 87), Sarcevic, Kioso, Crawford (Gnahoua 79 (Darcy 82)), Delfouneso, Doyle
Subs Not Used: Crellin, Comley, Mascoll, Greenidge
Booked: Delaney, Santos
Goals: Doyle 13

Referee: Michael Salisbury

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Pos Team Pld Pts
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2 Cambridge United 41 71
3 Bolton Wanderers 40 67
4 Tranmere Rovers 40 65
5 Morecambe 40 63
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