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Walsall 0-1 Tranmere - Report

Walsall were punished for switching off deep into second-half stoppage time as Elliott Nevitt's last-gasp header saw Tranmere Rovers prevail at Bescot.

Walsall v Tranmere (Owen Russell)
Walsall v Tranmere (Owen Russell)

The Saddlers are now 11 matches without a win across all competitions after their latest setback, which saw Nevitt net in the 95th minute.

His goal was the last action of the game and also means Michael Flynn's men have picked up just two points from their last seven League Two outings.

Walsall, as has often been the case this campaign, failed to get into a rhythm going forward while the big chance they did have was spurned.

Jacob Maddox fluffed his lines minutes before Nevitt made them pay.

Walsall v Tranmere (Owen Russell)

Pressure is building and patience is beginning to wear thin among some supporters – the Saddlers booed off after the final whistle.

They sit 15th in the league table on nine points from 10 fixtures so far in 2022/23.

Report

Walsall went with an attack-minded starting XI as they made three changes from their last league affair – the 1-0 loss at table-toppers Leyton Orient.

Jack Earing was rewarded for his bright Papa John's Trophy outing at Cheltenham Town in midweek and given another start, with Tom Knowles and Peter Clarke also in from the off.

Manny Monthe dropped to the bench against his former club alongside Isaac Hutchinson and Brandon Comley.

Tranmere, meanwhile, had former Saddlers winger Kieron Morris among their substitutes.

Walsall took a noticeably direct approach early doors and were focused on getting aerial balls into the box to ask questions of the Rovers defence. Clarke threw himself towards a long throw-in but ended up giving a foul away.

Tranmere centre-halves Dynel Simeu and Jordan Turnbull, in the main, did a fine job of mopping up anything that came their way. Simeu seemed especially comfortable as the travelling supporters sang his name.

The Saddlers struggled to put together a sequence of forward passes as Tranmere got settled.

Walsall v Tranmere (Owen Russell)

With half an hour on the clock, neither side had created a clear-cut opportunity and the game entered a lull.

Trying to come up with a moment of magic, Knowles dragged an effort wide from long range. Taylor Allen later played a nice cut-back towards the penalty spot after being found by Knowles but, unfortunately, neither Andy Williams or Danny Johnson had held their run.

The two sides were competing well enough but given the lack of creativity from both, it was hardly a surprise to see it remain goalless going into the break.

It had not been an enthralling watch. However, there was still lots of time for Walsall to come up with something and finally stop the rot.

Tranmere made a change for the second period, introducing familiar face Morris at right midfield.

Walsall v Tranmere (Owen Russell)

His first contribution was to foul Earing and give away a free-kick in a dangerous area and from that, Knowles' low delivery was headed well wide by Johnson.

Straight up the other end, the away side had a decent chance as a quick counter-attack ended with Josh Cogley's near-post effort being saved by Owen Evans.

The Saddlers were forced into a change towards the hour mark as Earing – apparently still feeling the effects of a knock in the first half – was replaced by Liam Gordon. A tactical switch soon followed as Williams went off for holding midfielder Comley.

Gordon's presence at left wing gave Walsall some proper width and pace, and he was proving to be a threat.

He drilled a ball across the face of goal towards Johnson – Simeu just beating him to the punch – before almost getting on the end of Knowles' slide-rule pass.

The hosts were building momentum and saw Allen go close after a corner, with his goal-bound attempt stopped by Ross Doohan.

Kane Hemmings then tried his luck for the visitors as his swerving long-range attempt was punched clear by Evans, who went on to deny Turnbull's looping header in fine fashion.

The Saddlers' shortcomings so far this campaign were summed up in added time.

Walsall v Tranmere (Owen Russell)

Maddox snatched at an opportunity to win it for Flynn's men as he blazed high and wide from inside the box. And in the dying seconds, Tranmere sealed the three points.

Morris took aim from 20 yards and while Evans made the save, substitute Nevitt was there to head home on the rebound just before the final whistle.

Another sucker-punch as Walsall's torrid run of form continues.

Teams

Walsall (4-1-2-1-2): Evans; Bennett, Daniels, Clarke, Allen; Kinsella; Earing (Gordon, 54), Maddox; Knowles (James-Taylor, 88); Johnson, Williams (Comley, 67)

Subs not used: White, Monthe, Hutchinson, Cashman

Tranmere (4-4-2): Doohan; Cogley, Simeu, Turnbull, Bristow; Hughes (Morrris, 46), Merrie, McAlear, Hawkes; Lewis (Nevitt, 58), Hemmings

Subs not used: Hewelt (gk), Jameson, Byrne, Burton, Lomax

Goal: Nevitt (90+5)

Attendance: 5,845 (683 Tranmere fans)

Referee: Ben Toner

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