Saddlers Memorable Matches
Walsall 1 Fulham 2 16 February 2002
Having already disposed of Bradford and Premiership Charlton in the previous two rounds we were looking to book a place in the quarter finals against big money Londoners, Fulham in front of the Sky cameras.
In my opinion, this game should have been ours and despite many reports afterwards saying otherwise, I still feel hard done by.
The first half saw plenty of chances for both sides with Brazilian Herivelto going closest for the Saddlers, Steed Malbranque for Fulham.
However, annoying the final result was for me, the opening goal for Fulham was one of our own making. A harmless looking free kick was floated in and Saddlers captain Tom Bennett couldn't react quickly enough as the ball bobbled over the line for an own goal.
If the openning goal was scrappy then our equaliser was just as bad! Early in the second half a Dean Keates corner wasn't collected by Edwin van der Sar and he contrived to drop the ball onto the back of substitute Darren Byfield and over the line.
The winning goal however was a painful moment. Having just produced a reckless challenge on Darren Wrack that meant he was off the field for 10 minutes, Fulham striker Barry Hayles volleyed in a Steve Finnan cross from the edge of the area.
It can't be denied it was a great strike but he shouldn't have been on the field! Most claim Fulham had too much for us anyway and maybe they are right but when you get that close to a FA Cup quarter final it can be very difficult to take.
If you remember this match and you agree or disagree with me about Barry Hayles let us know in our forum.