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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:51 5th December 2015
By  Daniel Briggs

CHESTERFIELD 1-1 WALSALL

Walsall face an FA Cup second-round replay after being held by League One rivals Chesterfield at a wind-swept Proact Stadium.

The Saddlers took a first-half lead when Jason Demetriou’s cross deflected in off Spireites defender Richard Wood.

But Chesterfield improved after the break, with captain Sam Morsy bundling home an 89th-minute equaliser to force a replay.

Walsall and Chesterfield will be ball number 60 in Monday’s third-round draw, which is live on BBC Two at 7.00pm.

The Saddlers made one change to the side that won at Shrewsbury in midweek, with Jordan Cook replacing the injured Tom Bradshaw.

Both sides entered this second-round tie without a manager.

Chesterfield parted company with Dean Saunders last Saturday, while Dean Smith left Walsall for Brentford on Monday.

Coaches Jon Whitney, John Ward and Neil Cutler were in temporary charge of the Saddlers, with Mark Smith Chesterfield's caretaker boss.

Smith’s Spireites registered the game’s first attempt on three minutes, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake teeing up Lee Novak to fire well wide from distance.

Shortly after, Dion Donohue skipped away from Demetriou and delivered a low centre which visiting keeper Neil Etheridge scrambled behind.

The blustery conditions were wreaking havoc and making it difficult for Walsall to play their natural passing game.

Yet it was the Saddlers who made the breakthrough on 20 minutes, when Wood inadvertently diverted Demetriou’s driven cross into his own net.

Celebrations Chesterfield A 460x345

Chesterfield nearly pegged Walsall back moments later, as Novak hooked a 35-yard attempt just wide following a poor clearance from Etheridge.

After surviving that scare, Walsall came close to doubling their lead seven minutes before the break.

Kieron Morris drove forward and fed Evans, who swapped passes with Jordan Cook, before dragging a left-footed shot wide from 20 yards.

HALF-TIME: CHESTERFIELD 0-1 WALSALL

Walsall - eyeing a place in the FA Cup third round for the first time since 2008 - had chances to increase their advantage after the break.

On 48 minutes, Milan Lalkovic nipped in behind the home defence but a last-ditch challenge from Talbot prevented him from getting a shot away.

And they went close again shortly after, when Donohue cleared Paul Downing’s glancing near-post header off the line from Lalkovic’s corner.

Downing Chesterfield A FA Cup 460x345

Chesterfield, who beat Walsall 2-1 in the league meeting in October, gradually began to impose themselves on proceedings.

Ebanks-Blake’s shot on the turn deflected wide, and Etheridge smothered Novak’s drive at his near post.

Walsall were subdued for much of the second period but were next to threaten through Rico Henry.

The promising young left-back embarked on one of his trademark lung-busting runs, carrying the ball 60 yards before seeing a shot blocked.

But Chesterfield really should have drawn level on 72 minutes.

First, substitute Dan Gardner, in space, fired a powerful low drive goalwards but Henry was in the right place to make a vital block.

A goalmouth scramble ensued from the resulting corner, with George Evans making a miraculous goal-line clearance.

And as Liam O’Neil crossed back in, Ebanks-Blake’s spectacular overhead kick smashed against the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.

It was a remarkable let-off.

Chesterfield continued to push forward in the closing stages, with Novak unable to find the target with a flicked header from Gardner’s corner.

Paul Downing Chesterfield A 460x345

And with one minute of normal time remaining, the Spireites grabbed an equaliser.

A deep free-kick was hooked back across goal by Sam Hird and Morsy bundled the ball over the line from close range.

With a replay now on the horizon, Walsall immediately looked to regain their lead with Jason Demetriou rattling the bar with a 30-yard free-kick.

From almost winning the tie at one end, the Saddlers very nearly lost it at the other, but Etheridge thwarted Ebanks-Blake and then Ian Evatt.

FULL-TIME: CHESTERFIELD 1-1 WALSALL

Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, Downing, O’Connor, Henry, Chambers, Evans (Mantom 77’), Lalkovic (Bakayoko 85’), Morris (Forde 60’), Sawyers, Cook.

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Taylor, Baxendale, Preston.

Attendance: 4,126 (743 Walsall supporters).

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