Walsall 0 Rochdale 3 - Report and pictures

By Joe Edwards | Walsall FC | Published:

Boss Jon Whitney remains firmly under pressure after a disastrous Walsall display saw them lose 3-0 at home to struggling Rochdale.

Jimmy McNulty, Ian Henderson and Mihai Dobre got the goals for the visitors, with a section of the Banks's Stadium faithful chanting 'we want Whitney out' following the final whistle.

Erhun Oztumer also missed a penalty for the hosts, who remain 13th in League One.

Walsall, unsurprisingly, made no changes from the 3-0 victory at Southend United on Saturday.

Oztumer was aiming to put on another masterclass after his stunning second-half treble at Roots Hall. He was deployed in his usual No.10 role, tasked with finding pockets of space to cause harm to the Dale defence.

The game got off to a very quiet start, with no chances in the opening 10 minutes. It was the visitors - who started the game bottom of the table - that looked more assured in possession and they went ahead just after the quarter-hour mark.

Matt Done's shot deflected out for a corner. Brad Inman took it with his left foot and stopper McNulty rose highest to head the ball into the far corner, past the outstretched Liam Roberts - the Saddlers made to pay for their subdued early showing.

Whitney's charges appeared tired, struggling Rochdale seemed more up for it.

The hosts did improve going forward as the first half progressed. Right-back Nicky Devlin went on a fine run before his low cross was blocked and cleared.


Stoke City loanee Julien Ngoy then had Walsall's first effort on goal, his powerful strike from 20 yards out being palmed clear by Josh Lillis.

The Saddlers backline still looked a bit shaky, though. Done's strike deflected just wide for a corner, after which Ryan Delaney headed a few yards past the post. Two very good chances.

The home side tried their luck from long range on a couple of occasions before the break but, somewhat unconvincingly, Lillis managed to keep the efforts from Kieron Morris and George Dobson out.

It was not surprising to see Whitney make a change for the beginning of the second period. Ngoy cut an isolated, frustrated figure in the first half while Maz Kouhyar failed to make an impact from the left-hand side.


The latter was the one to make way for Justin Shaibu, who went up front while Belgian youngster Ngoy was shifted out to the left.

Shaibu was involved in a neat piece of play just prior to the hour mark as he teed up Oztumer, whose low drive was gathered by Lillis. The attempt just lacked the pace to truly trouble the goalkeeper.

The Saddlers did not make look much better after the switch, though, and Whitney saw fit to make another.

Flo Cuvelier replaced skipper Adam Chambers in the middle of the park, with Jon Guthrie taking the armband. Cuvelier has been dogged by injuries over the past couple of years and is hoping to impress enough to earn a new deal in the summer.

Frustration was growing around the Banks's and left-back Luke Leahy talked his way into a booking after Walsall's appeals for a penalty - for an apparent pull of Shaibu's shirt - were turned down by referee Robert Lewis.

In the 70th minute came the home side's final throw of the dice as Ama Bakayoko took Ngoy's place.

Right after that substitution was made, though, the Saddlers fell two behind. It was another case of sloppy defending as Rochdale skipper Henderson was allowed the time and space to get his shot off, with a deflection helping the ball into the bottom corner.

There appeared to be a ray of light for the hosts as they were awarded a penalty, Delaney tripping Bakayoko.

The night went from bad to worse, though, as Oztumer's spot-kick was kept out by Lillis. The Dale goalie deserves credit as he got across well, but the strike was at a nice height for him to make the stop.

Bakayoko then proceeded to waste a decent opportunity, smashing into row Z, before Walsall conceded once more.

Substitute Dobre came up with a piece of brilliance he will never forget, completely dumbfounding the Saddlers defence with some sublime skill before smashing home from the edge of the box.

A clash very much to forget was rounded off with the sponsors' man of the match going to Walsall keeper Roberts and a chorus of boos.


Walsall (4-2-3-1): L Roberts; Devlin, Guthrie, K Roberts, Leahy; Dobson, Chambers (Cuvelier, 63); Morris, Oztumer, Kouhyar (Shaibu, 46); Ngoy (Bakayoko, 70)

Subs not used: Kinsella, Flanagan, Fitzwater, Gillespie (gk)

Rochdale (3-5-2): Lillis; McGahey, McNulty, Delaney; Rafferty, Camps, Inman (Dobre, 72), Cannon, Done; Humphrys (Davies, 55), Henderson

Subs not used: Wiseman, Rathbone, Hart, Kitching, Moore (gk)

Attendance: 3,505 (115)

Referee: Robert Lewis (Shrewsbury)

Joe Edwards

By Joe Edwards
Multi-Media Sports Journalist - @JoeEdwards_Star

Sports reporter for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.


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