Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Sunday December 2 2007
The Sixfield Stadium
Walsall came away from their second round FA Cup tie with Northampton with a one one draw, which would have left the away faithful disappointed but satisfield.
It ways always going to be a tricky encounter as Northampton were on the receiving end of a two nil defeat to the Saddlers the previous weekend. The Saddlers made one change, with Ismael Demontagnac coming in for the onloan Peter Sweeney and Wrack taking up the anchor position in midfield.
Walsall could have taken the lead within the first few second as Mooney nearly collected a loose ball but Bunn was quick out to collect. Four minutes into the match they were ahead as Mooney collected a smart pass from the rampaging Bradley to expertly fire across the keeper and in off the far post. The Saddlers fans jumped with joy and as Cobblers' heads dropped, many in the away end were expecting an easy afternoon.
But unfortunately that easy afternoon was never to come due to poor defending four minutes later. Hubertz flicked the ball across the goal, Dann couldn't get there and the prolific Kirk fired past Ince. So back to all level and in truth it never looked like there would be an addition to the scoreboard.
Chances were at a minimal, though the half was lit up by a fantastic volley from Darren Wrack that Bunn forced onto the crossbar and the ball bounced back on the right side of the line for the Northampton keeper. Later in the half Ricketts brilliantly forced his way to the bar line but all his goodwork was ruined as he volleyed the ball high across the box, totally out of reach of any onrushing players.
Hubertz up front was again causing problem, so was Referee M Jones who was over fussy and inconsistent.
The Saddlers tried to finish the half strongly but the Cobblers fearing another clinical finish before half time, defended in numbers.
Northampton started the second half strongly, maybe knowing it was their best chance to win the tie. But it was a comfortable afternoon for the Saddlers, it would take a moment of magic or a horrendus mistake to settle this tie.
Walsall were a class above their opponents, it had all the makings of an FA Cup tie. But the Saddlers never got started or out of first gear, they seemed happy to take them back to the Banks's. None of the Saddlers players could proclaim to be anything above mediocre, Bradley stayed back adding additional protection in front of the back four. Wrack worked hard but was surceptible to giving possession away to many times, though he worked hard to get it back. Nothing clicked between Ricketts and Mooney in the second half but the Saddlers resilence was unquestionable. Gerrard could have won it with a free header at the end but but put the ball over.
The closing moments were interlaced with a flair up between Jones and Weston that Referee M. Jones once again failed to give the right decision. The onloan Wolves defender was out numbered on the wing by Bradley and Wrack, the ball broke loose to Weston and Jones dangerously jumped into the Welsh defender creating an ugly seen as both sets of players ran over in a confrontation. The fact the Ref gave Northampton a dangerous free kick was questionable and Weston and Jones picked up yellow cards.
So with the Saddlers going into the third round draw they can participate their actual presence with a firm degree of confidence. The only stumbling block that can be forseen is complacency.
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Date:Sunday December 2 2007
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