Report Walsall 0-1 Tranmere Rovers
Saddlers were knocked out of the Carling Cup last night in a game where they just couldn`t find the goal.
The players participated in some agility cone work immediately before kickoff, as well as a team huddle. Looking positive and sharp, were the fans in for a real treat?
One change was made after Saturday`s defeat to MK Dons, McGivern was called for international duty with Northern Ireland, making way for Darryl Westlake to start in defence. The match began brightly, but hesitation and errors were never far away. The Saddlers were on top throughout opening 45 minutes, but couldn`t quite put their finger on the button. Jones came close on 5 minutes after being set up by Byfield, but the shot was saved. Despite leading on possession, they did not look much like scoring. A lot of passes were left going begging, or easily cleared by Tranmere. On 34 minutes Gray came achingly close to the goal, but the effort was saved. Some good work by Byfield and Lescott found the feet of the 30 year old, but the shot was scooped up by Joe Collister.
Tranmere got their goal on 39 minutes, Brain hesitated with clearing a danger by the visitors and Ian Goodison pounced on the opportunity. The Saddler fans lamented that they now had an even bigger hill to climb. It was only to be the first of several heart stopping moments by the new goalkeeper.
As the second half began,a bizarre incident panned out, Byfield seemingly stole the ball from a Tranmere free kick, insisting that the ball had already been touched for the set piece. Storming up the pitch, with the Saddler fans on the verge of celebrating a gifted equaliser, he passed to Nicholls, but Collister was on hand again to save the Rovers` blushes.
On 59 minute, Byfield came close again after being set up by Richards, but his shot went frustratingly over the bar. Saddlers battled on, but did not have much luck.
On 65 minutes, two Saddler substitutions were made with Marshall replacing Taundry in midfield and Grigg replacing Nicholls in attack. Steve Jones came close a few minutes later, after a string of decent passes by the Saddlers, but the shot was saved.
Drama ensued a few minutes later after a Tranmere player went down, seemingly unhurt, enraging Byfield, who had to be held back by his teammtes after some heated exchanges. Tensions remained high after play resumed and the rest of second half was played out. A good chance for the Saddlers by Gray ensued on 74 minutes, after being set up by captain Byfield, but the shot was saved. Play did not get any less frustrating for the Saddler faithful, who just wanted to not be knocked out of the cup in the first round (again.) McDonald came on for Westlake late on, but the game could not be saved and the Carling Cup campaign was over.
We now look towards Saturday`s game, away to Brentford.