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Walsall 1 Scunthorpe 2 - Report and pictures

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall's winless run was stretched to seven games after they fell to a 2-1 loss to Scunthorpe at the Banks's Stadium.

The visitors grabbed an early lead when Funso Ojo volleyed in from a corner straight from the training ground.

Walsall pulled level shortly after the interval with Nicky Devlin scoring a fantastic individual goal to lift the home crowd.

From that point, the Saddlers seemed to have some momentum and they went in search of a second.

But they allowed the Iron to regain the lead with Lee Novak racing through to score.

And from that point, Dean Keates' side couldn't find an equaliser in what, overall, was a poor game of football.

ANALYSIS

Before kick-off, it was announced Russell Martin had left Walsall for family reasons with the defender struggling with his commute from Brighton.

Jack Fitzwater was also unavailable with the Albion loanee expected to return to the Saddlers next week after spending some extended time with his parent club.

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But the absence of both Martin and Fitzwater wasn't the only surprising news before kick-off with boss Dean Keates making a number of key changes to his starting XI.

In central midfield, George Dobson and Liam Kinsella both had to make do with a place on the bench with Joe Edwards and Isaiah Osbourne preferred in the middle of the park.

Connor Johnson came in for his first league start at centre-back with Zeli Ismail and Matt Jarvis on the wings in a 4-4-2 formation. Up front, Andy Cook was partnered by Morgan Ferrier.

Scunthorpe, under the guidance of manager Stuart McCall, lined up in a 4-3-1-2 system with George Thomas operating behind strikers Lee Novak and Kyle Wootton.

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After a cagey start from both teams, it was Scunthorpe who opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

A training ground corner routine saw the ball worked to Ojo on the edge of the box.

And completely unmarked the midfielder then produced a wonderful finish to steer the ball in on the volley.

Walsall responded with Cook turning well before seeing a low drive from 18-yards beaten away by Jak Alnwick.

They then sent in a number of decent crosses which the Iron just about dealt with.

But Scunthorpe's early goal had silenced the Banks's Stadium with both Walsall's players and fans in need of a lift.

And the moment they needed didn't arrive in the opening 45 minutes with both sides offering very little in a half where quality was at an absolute premium.

Thankfully for Walsall, they didn't have to wait too long after the interval for a moment of inspiration.

There seemed to be little on when Devlin collected the ball 30-yards from goal in the 53rd minute.

But he drove past one player and then another to enter the box. And he then unleashed a fierce drive which flew past Alnwick and into the net.

The goal seemed to change the complexion of the match with Walsall suddenly on the front foot and pressing for a second.

But just when they seemed to have gained some momentum, they allowed Scunthorpe to regain the lead.

After a spell of possession, Thomas slipped Novak through on goal.

And the former Blues striker kept his composure to lift the ball over Liam Roberts and into the net.

Back behind, the lack of confidence amongst Walsall's players again became apparent with Keates' men struggling to create.

With less than five minutes remaining, Keates introduced Omar Mussa for his Saddlers debut with Osbourne making way.

But while they applied some late pressure, they were unable to find a way through with Scunthorpe holding on to win what was a poor game of football.

Walsall: Roberts, Devlin, Johnson, Guthrie, Leahy, Ismail, Edwards, Osbourne (Mussa 87), Jarvis, Ferrier (Gordon 11), Cook.

Subs not used: Dunn, Dobson, Morris, Kinsella, Kouhyar, Mussa.

Scunthorpe: Alnwick, Borthwick-Jackson, McMahon, Ojo, Perch (Lund 85), Novak, Thomas (Lewis 79), Burgess, Sutton, McArdle, Wotton (Webster 73).

Not used: Flatt, van Veen, McGahey, Hammill.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

West Bromwich Albion reporter.

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