FT: Fleetwood Town 1-1 Walsall
Mixed emotions for Walsall tonight as they drew 1 all with Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup first round.
The game was a dramatic affair with lots going on.
Matthew Richards fired the Saddlers into an early lead, before Fleetwood missed a penalty. The Saddlers were then reduced to 10 men when Ryan McGivern was sent off for a dangerous challenge on 40 minutes.
Jamie Mullan then levelled for Fleetwood to force the game to a replay.
The game started strongly for the Saddlers, as they kept their Blue Square premier opponents in check. Walsall grabbed the lead on 4 minutes as Matthew Richards picked up the ball from Liam Dickinson and expertly put the ball left footed to the right of the goal. The already electric visiting crowd went wild. 0-1.
Walsall were in the driving seat for most of the half, as things started to go right for them. Jimmy Walker made some heroic saves throughout the encounter.
Devaney had some cross words with a Fleetwood coach on 28 minutes as he kicked the ball away, however it was soon resolved. Devaney's emotions overflowing with the big occasion.
Walsall's good start to the game was seemingly on it's way out as Taundry gave away a dubious penalty. The captain did some good work defending a ball but was adjudged to have shirt pulled Ian Craney. McNulty stepped up to take the penalty, with Walsall supporters in front of him doing their best to put him off. The ball struck the bar and away to safety, much to the joy of the visitors.
Trying to get the game back on track, Jon Macken then had a fine chance a few minutes later as Matthew Richards set him up, but the ball was saved over the bar.
Ryan McGivern was given his marching orders on 40 minutes. He went in for a tackle on Ian Craney with his studs in the air but boots on the ground. The referee wasted no time in giving him his marching orders. A huge blow for the Saddlers as the 23 year old faces a 3 game ban, as well as the Saddlers facing the rest of the game a man down.
The half came to a close and players and fans alike needed to regroup after a hectic 45 minutes.
The second half started with Jones off and Lescott on. The Saddlers playing for a time 4-3-2. Fleetwood got their equaliser on 50 minutes, Jamie Mullan received the ball from the right and shot it left footed into the goal. 1-1
Disappointment for the Saddlers, but ever the more thankful for their early lead.
Martin Devaney then pulled up with a hamstring injury and Reuben Reid quickly entered the field as his replacement. Clayton McDonald also left the field to make way for Oliver Lancashire.
The remaining 35 minutes was a truly nail biting affair for both teams, as Walsall battled on with ten men. Jimmy Walker shone through with some excellent, well assured saves.
Macken was booked on 58 minutes for a foul on Anthony Barry. Loanee Liam Dickinson then missed a good chance after being set up by Richards. 25 year old Richards was then mistaken for Manny Smith after a challenge on Shaun Beeley. How the two could be mixed up is anyone's guess! Eventually Smith was the rightful recipient of a Yellow.
A flurry of corners for Fleetwood came at the opposite end of the visiting supporters. Thankfully Walker, amongst others was in hand to keep out the dangers. Walsall were still pushing hard to get the winner, but the one man missing became more and more evident.
Reuben Reid had a chance saved late on before Westlake had a chance, but the shot fell short of the target.
To everyone's relief, the final whistle came. It was a typical cup encounter; full of pace and not short of drama.
The Saddlers now face a replay at the Banks's a week on Tuesday. Hopefully they will be able to take today's performance and build upon it as they visit Bournemouth AFC in league one next Saturday.
What did you think? Comment in the forum!