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Match Reports

Report | Dale 4-2 Walsall

7 April 2023

Dale made it back-to-back wins under Jim McNulty with a 4-2 victory at home to Walsall.

Jamille Matt put the visitors ahead, before two goals in two minutes from Ian Henderson and Abraham Odoh put Dale ahead at half-time.

Tom Knowles equalised after the break, but Max Taylor and Ethan Brierley scored to secure all three points.

Interim Manager McNulty stuck with the same starting 11 that gained three points at AFC Wimbledon, and Dale made a promising start with Odoh seeing a shot blocked wide and a Brierley shot from distance also being diverted just off target.

A patient, passing move led to Jimmy Keohane clipping a ball over the top for Lloyd, who poked narrowly wide from close range.

The visitors’ first real chance came through Knowles, whose stunning effort hit the inside of both posts before rolling away from danger.

However, the Saddlers equalised shortly afterwards, when a Matt hooked a ball home after a partially cleared corner had come back into the Dale area.

Isaac Hutchinson shot wide and Odoh fired one off target after a nice nutmeg on his marker, shortly before D’Mani Mellor had an effort well tipped round the post by goalkeeper Owen Evans.

The equaliser came three minutes before the break, when Taylor’s shot from outside the area was diverted into the bottom corner by Henderson. With that, he became the club’s leading league goalscorer of all-time, on 120.

Just two minutes later, Dale were ahead. A superbly worked move around the Walsall penalty area saw Odoh and Henderson link up, before it was played to Lloyd who laid it back off to Odoh. His shot rocketed off the underside of the bar and appeared to cross the line, before it span back out and was turned home by a determined Lloyd.

Just five minutes after the break the visitors equalised, when Knowles picked up on a loose pass on the halfway line and drove towards goal, keeping his composure to slot past Richard O’Donnell.

Walsall had the ball in the back of the net again moments later, but the goal was chalked off for a foul in the build-up, and Dale took full advantage by taking the lead themselves.

A corner was sent into the back post area where Taylor brought it down and fired a powerful effort from a tight angle, which found the far corner.

Mellor fired a powerful effort narrowly over and O’Donnell turned Hutchinson’s shot from distance wide of his upright.

In the 65th minute Dale made it four, in contentious circumstances, when Brierley picked up on Evans’ scuffed clearance and shot from 40-yards. The goalkeeper got back and caught the effort, before spilling the ball and appearing to stop it before it crossed the line, although the assistant referee flagged to signal a goal.

O’Donnell made a fine save low to his right to deny Conor Wilkinson to keep the two goal cushion, and that was how it ended, as Dale made it two wins from two under McNulty.

Dale XI | O’Donnell, Keohane, Taylor, Ebanks-Landell, Dodgson, Kelly, Brierley, Lloyd, Mellor, Odoh, Henderson.

Subs | Eastwood, Seriki, Ball, Graham, Quigley, John, Mullarkey.

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