Wolves 2-2 Walsall (4-2 Penalties) - Report
It took ten years for our return to Molineux to face Wolves in a Black Country derby and last nights performance epitamised why this fixture should happen more regularly!
Wolves made six changes from the side that had defeated Port Vale convincinly at the weekend but lets remember, the team they fielded last night are on more than the whole Walsall squad and for one night only Walsall matched their nearest rivals.
Wolves lead twice, Walsall fought back on both occasions and could have easily won this in 90 minutes and probably would have won had it gone to extra time.
The match had everything you wanted from a derby game, vociferous fans, hard challenges, plenty of goals and controversy - yet the controversy was harsh and Walsall but given referee, Darren Deadmans allegiance with the 'big' teams it was no surprise to see us face 12 men last night.
Onto the game and for the first 45 minutes, Walsall werent at the races. Our first half performance was reminicent of our defeat to Preston on Saturday as our neat passing was undone by a lack of quality in the final third.
Wolves took an early lead through Liam McAlinden. He found space from a Matt Doherty cross to prod home his first senior goal...many would have expected an onslaught after that but Walsall reduced Wolves to very few chances and at half time both Wolves and Walsall fans would expect a little more from their troops in the second half.
At half time Dean Smith brought Craig Westcarr on for Milan Lalkovic and many of the boo boys wont like the next statement - Westcarr changed the game! - His link up play with the wingers was a joy to watch and so wa his knock downs for Nicky Featherstone and Adam Chambers to run onto.
Westcarr was instrumental in our equaliser. Great build up play saw Westcarr swing in a prcise cross for Ashley Hemmings to tuck in at the far post - the large and vocal Walsall fans went wild.
Then comes Mr Deadman's moment of madness...Bacary Sako (who is nowhere near worth £4m) sent in a corner and both Downing and Batth seemed to collide, yet Mr Deadman awarded a penalty. It shows how ridiculous a decision it was when even the Wolves players nor the Southbank contested it. Up stepped Sako and his low penalty was initially saved by O'Donnell but the shot was too fierce and bounced back at the feet of Sako who passed it into the empty net.
2-1 was harsh on Walsall and for the last 15 minutes, pelted Wolves with attack after attack and got their just rewards with five minutes remaining. Substitute and forgotten man, Tory Hewitt proved why he deserves his chance. He picked up on Doherty's poor header to turn and volley past stranded former Walsall loanee Aaron McCarey...the match went to penalties
Westcarr and Andy Taylor missed our spot kicks due to some brilliant goalkeeping by Aaron McCarey and unfortunatly Richard O'Donnell couldnt match his counterpart as Wolves went through 4-2 on pens.....Walsall and England go hand in hand with penalty shoot outs. Walsall hae suffered penalty heartbreak in the last 5 attempts, losing to Rochdale, Bury, Dagenham, Port Vale and now Wolves. During the 12 penalty shoot outs we have been involved in we have won only 4.
On the whole though we have to be proud of our second half display and with Troy Hewitt now looking like our genuine number 9 it bodes well for the league game in two weeks time.
Star Man - Adam Chambers
Let Wolves have this penalty win....we will get revenge and win the more important game in the league!