Walsall 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
25/08/2015 - 15:00
Having slipped behind for the first time this season, the Saddlers produced a stunning second half comeback to conquer Championship opposition for the second round in a row and secure a dream 3rd round tie against Chelsea.
Our visitors edged the first half and we`re just about good value for their lead at the break. The Saddlers weren`t playing badly, but Brighton were playing with a bit more pace and directness to their play and did look a threat breaking through the midfield. That said, it took a disputed penalty to break the deadlock. Jake Forster-Caskey tangled in the area with Kieron Morris and, having originally decided to stay on his feet realised he was running into trouble in the way of Jason Demetriou so dropped to the turf and the ref pointed to the spot. Forster-Caskey himself stepped up and stroked the ball in sending Neil Etheridge the wrong way.
After the break however the Saddlers took control, with Lalkovic in particular having the opposition right back on toast for the second time in four days. Having put a free kick inches wide in the first half, he then saw a free kick from the left wing elude everyone to again drift agonisingly wide. However, it was the introduction of Romaine Sawyers with half an hour to go that inspired the turnaround. Just moments after his arrival he would play a key part in our equaliser without even touching the ball. Tom Bradshaw won the ball in the corner and also beat his man before squaring the ball across the box. Sawyers sold his man the dummy allowing Lalkovic to smash into the roof of the net from 15 yards.
The Saddlers were on top, with Morris seeing an effort pushed over and Bradshaw putting a difficult header wide before the visitors were awarded a second penalty, one which looked more clear-cut with James O`Connor bringing down Chris O`Grady. O`Grady took the penalty himself and promptly skied it, and was almost immediately withdrew from the action.
Demetriou found himself in trouble with the ref, picking up a booking for a sliding foul in the centre circle as Brighton looked to break, and some would argue he was lucky to stay on the pitch just three minutes later when he committed a similar looking foul on the Saddlers right. Personally I thought he was going to walk for that.
He didn`t, and with just four minutes to go the Saddlers secured the win. Sawyers had taken over from Lalkovic in torturing the Brighton right back, and having beaten him again laid the ball back for Rico Henry to fire home and send the Saddlers into round three and a plum tie against the champions. I suspect there might be a few more than 2,968 at that.