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Walsall v Latics: Half-time report

14 January 2014

A lively first half at the Banks's Stadium ends goal less with both sides playing some decent football on a soaking wet surface.

Lee Johnson made two changes to the starting line-up with Charlie MacDonald and James Dayton starting ahead of Jonson Clarke-Harris and Gary Harkins who both dropped to the bench.

Latics earned the first corner of the match on 6 minutes after superb build up play down the right, the resultant kick leading to an almighty scramble in the Saddlers 6 yard box, Paul Downing eventually clearing the danger. 

The defenders long ball found Febian Brandy who raced through to force a corner for the home side, Latics rearguard clearing comfortably from the kick.

MacDonald had the first real effort on goal on 10 minutes, his snap shot being well blocked by Richard O'Donnell in the home goal.  

More neat build-play from Latics forced their third corner of the half on 19 minutes from which there were loud appeals from all connected with Boundary Park, referee Graham waving away the protests.

The home side finally made their presence felt on 22 minutes with a decent move down the left, the incoming cross dealt with comfortably by Jonathan Grounds who headed well clear.

A misunderstanding at the back almost let in MacDonald on 27 minutes, O'Donnell quickly off his line to spare his defenders blushes as he nicked the ball of the Latics strikers toes.

Saddlers top scorer Craig Westcarr wasted a good chance for the home side on the half hour mark, blazing well over from the edge of the box.

The best effort of the half saw Andy Taylor's free kick strike the post after David Mellor was penalised for bringing down Brandy on the edge of the box on 32 minutes, the loose ball being cleared, much to the relief of the travelling Latics supporters at that end of the ground.

The home side were now piling on the pressure, forcing five corners in quick succession, the Latics rearguard standing firm to protect Mark Oxley.

MacDonald again claimed for a penalty as his shot was charged down in the box after a smooth counter attack had seen him free in space outside the box on 40 minutes.

Two minutes later MacDonald had the ball in the Walsall net only for a late offside flag to deny him the opening goal.

HT: Walsall 0 Latics 0   

Latics: Oxley, Grounds, Wesolowski, Kusunga, Tarkowski, Smith, Mellor, MacDonald, Petrasso, Dayton, Philliskirk.

Subs: Rachubka, Rooney, Rodgers, Lockwood, Harkins, Brown, Clarke-Harris.

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