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Match Reports

REPORT: Robins 1-2 Walsall

28 July 2018

Match Reports

REPORT: Robins 1-2 Walsall

28 July 2018

New-look Cheltenham Town produced an encouraging display as they narrowly lost out 2-1 to Walsall in a pre-season encounter at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

With just one week until the new Sky Bet League Two campaign, the Robins impressed in the opening 45 minutes and could have taken a deserved lead with Jacob Maddox hitting a post and striker Manny Duku missing a penalty. 

Instead it was Walsall that took a lead into the break when full back Nicky Devlin rattled in a thumping drive on the angle in stoppage time.

A close range finish from Andy Cook looked to wrap up the win for the Saddlers before a late Brian Graham penalty for the hosts, on a day when Gary Johnson will have been pleased by the display in most parts if not the final result.

New recruits Duku, Maddox and Liam McAlinden, who signed for the club just prior to kick-off, were all named in the starting line-up for the fixture.

Duku immediately showed his raw power and pace before Ryan Broom fizzed in a devilish low cross from the right wing towards McAlinden that Liam Roberts punched clear.

The three new recruits then nearly combined in devastating fashion on eight minutes as Duku flicked on, McAlinden twisted into space on the edge of the box and rolled in Maddox who hit the inside of the post from 18 yards.

Zeli Ismail looked to get the Saddlers going but he was well watched by Joshua Debayo who won the goal kick to shut down any away attack.

Duku was causing big problems up top for the visitors as he won another free kick on the right wing as the Robins won the territorial battle in the opening 15 minutes.

The Dutch frontman then won a penalty all of his all making as he brilliantly turned the Walsall trialist centre half on the edge of the area and was then bundled over in the box.

However, the striker was denied the debut goal his play richly deserved as he sent the spot kick the wrong side of the left hand post.

Walsall's Josh Ginnelly tested Scott Flinders after 25 minutes, with the big shot stopper getting down well to push a curling shot away.

McAlinden tested Roberts again with a snap shot while Andy Cook headed a right wing cross wide for the visitors.

Walsall then scored on the stroke of half-time as Devlin thumped a powerful shot into the top corner after finding space in behind.

The visitors went close just after the interval, as Ismail and Cook both fired shots narrowly over the bar when well placed.

The Robins enjoyed a strong spell of possession with Maddox and McAlinden prominent, that resulted in Debayo swinging over a left wing cross that hit Duku and rolled wide.

Johnson started to make changes as Kevin Dawson and Kelvin Kalala replaced the hard-working Thomas and Duku before Jordon Forster took the place of skipper Mullins.

Walsall hit the woodwork as their trailist rose highest at the penalty spot to meet a corner and thump the left-hand upright.

Substitute Kouhya then hit the opposite upright after a weaving run - with Ismail badly hitting the rebound over the target - before a second goal from the visitors.

Kouhyar was again in the thick of the action as he dropped the ball back to Ismail who sees his effort saved only for Cook to pounce on the loose ball.

The Robins were given a late lifeline when Jordon Forster was fouled from a corner and up stepped Graham to send Roberts the wrong way.

Robins: Flinders, Broom, Mullins (Forster 68), Boyle (Bower 78), Debayo, Thomas (Dawson 65), Tozer (Smith 71), Atangana, Maddox (Lloyd 78), McAlinden (Graham 78), Duku (Kalala 65). Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Duncan.

Walsall: Roberts, Devlin, Leahy, Dobson, Guthrie, Cook, Parker (Morris 45), Ismail (Kinsella 83), Chambers (Candlin 83), Ginnelly (Kouhyar 78), Trialist. Subs not used: Dawe (Gk), Trialist, Cockerill-Mollett, Sangha, Bakayoko, Hayles-Docherty.

Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 1,130 (222 from Walsall)

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