Harrogate Town 3-0 Walsall Match Report

19 April 2023

An early strike from Sam Folarin was bolstered by second-half goals from Kazeem Olaigbe and Alex Pattison as Town eased to a 3-0 win against Walsall at The Envirovent Stadium.

Town grabbed the early initiative to take control of the game with two clinical finishes after the break extending the unbeaten home run to seven games, but crucially taking advantage of results elsewhere in League Two to put distance between them and the sides immediately below them.

Town named an unchanged line-up to the side that came back from two goals down for the third time in succession at home to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, with both Alex Pattison and Sam Folarin recovering from injuries sustained in the 2-2 draw.

The Saddlers made two changes with Joe Riley and Matt Stevens replacing Joe Low and Connor Wilkinson who both dropped to the bench.

There was an early chance for Town after five minutes when a deft ball from Toby Sims caught out the visitors defence to find Luke Armstrong but his effort to chip the stranded Owen Evans landed agonisingly wide of the goal.

Town did get the first goal though on ten minutes when Armstrong broke away down the right and with a man advantage he picked out Alex Pattison squared for Folarin to fire home at the far post.

Walsall’s first opportunity of the night came when a loose ball fell to Tom Knowles on the edge of the area, but although he struck his effort well it took a deflection off one his teammates and fell harmlessly to safety.

Town profited down the left-hand side on the half-hour mark when the pace of Folarin and Olaigbe combined to free Pattison in the area. With hopes of a second beckoning the visitors defence recovered just in time to crowd out the Town midfielder.

They did have the ball in the net minutes later when Armstrong thought he had sprung the offside trap and fired a low left-footed effort beyond Evans. The celebrations were cut short though when the assistant referee raised the flag.

Pattison then raced at the Saddlers defence before striking an effort that was too close to Evans, but with the comfort of a lead Town were in control and playing with confidence against a side who had won just on of their previous 19 games.

However, they were served a warning five minutes before the break though when the dangerous Stevens got in behind the Town backline and clipped the ball past

Mark Oxley with the Town fans behind the goal grateful to see it bounce just wide of the goal.

Oxley then beat away a dangerous effort from Knowles before making a fine reaction save in injury time to deny
an acrobatic effort from Brandon Comley.

The visitors began the second-half brightly and Liam Gordon whipped in an early cross that almost caught out the Town defence before Anthony O’Connor nipped in ahead of Jamille Mat to clear.

Isaac Hutchinson the fired wide and high from just inside the area as the Saddlers sensed an opportunity to get back into the game.

On the hour mark Simon Weaver made his first change of the evening when Matty Daly was introduced for the goalscorer Folarin.

And Daly was involved in the decisive goal minutes later when he fashioned a shot after good build-up play, which was deflected into the path of Olaigbe who arrowed the ball home with pace and power to double the lead.

Mike Flynn made an immediate response when he brought on Jacob Maddox in place of Stevens.

But Town extended their lead further when substitute Daly fed Pattison, who outpaced the defence and finished with aplomb to make it 3-0.

Soon after, a second change was made with Andrew Williams replacing Comley and Pattison’s night was done after his strike when he was replaced by Warren Burrell.

Two further changes were made by the Saddlers with Wilkinson and Rohan Maher introduced for Matt and Isaac Hutchinson with Simon Weaver also making a double change with Olaigbe and Armstrong making way for Dior Angus and Jack Muldoon.

With the unassailable lead Town were comfortably able to play out the final stages of the game to take the three points that provided a six-point cushion back to the relegation positions.

TOWN: Oxley, Falkingham, Thomson, Olaigbe (Angus, 81), Folarin (Daly, 61), Sims, O’Connor, Pattison (Burrell, 78), Armstrong (Muldoon, 81), Foulds, Eastman.

Substitutes: Jameson, Mattock, McArdle

Goals: Folarin (10), Olaigbe (67), Pattison (76)

Walsall: Evans, Gordon, Monthe, Riley, Kinsella, Knowles, Comley (Williams, 68), Matt (Wilkinson, 81), Stevens (Maddox, 70), McEntee, Hutchinson (Maher, 81).

Substitutes: Smith, Low, Songo’o.

Referee: Rebecca Welch.

Attendance: 1,867.

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