WALSALL v SHEFFIELD UNITED
THE SADDLERS were back on home soil for the second time in three days as we played host to Sheffield United.
It was Walsall who had the first effort on goal as Anthony Forde, who was back in the starting line-up, dragged a low effort wide of the target.
With six minutes on the clock, Richard O'Donnell was called into action to make a smart stop from Matt Done, but two minutes later he was beaten as Jose Baxter hit a 25-yard strike that dipped past him and into the net to open the scoring.
As The Saddlers looked to get a foot-hold in the game, chances were few and far between at either end. For United, John Brayford fired over whilst Keiron Freeman lashed wide as they seized upon loose balls.
After a neat move from Walsall had seen a pull-back from Ben Purkiss evade Romaine Sawyers, there was a foul on Jordan Cook which gave us a free-kick in a promising position. Anthony Forde stepped up and curled just wide of the target.
Some good play out wide by Cook sees him dig the ball out and find the head of Jordy Hiwula whose effort was saved by Mark Howard.
A long ball forward saw Hiwula give chase but the 'keeper was alert to clear outside his area.
In stoppage time at the end of the half, Hiwula was booked as we went in at the break one goal down.
The first action of the second half saw a dipping effort from the edge of the area by Sawyers land just over.
A corner whipped in by Forde saw James O'Connor fail to direct his header goalwards as The Saddlers searched for a way back into the game.
Another corner from Forde found the head of Paul Downing shortly afterwards as this time he saw his attempt skim the top of the crossbar.
With The Saddlers stepping up a gear, Forde delivered another telling cross that reached Cook at the far post but he fired well over.
On 69 minutes, Ashley Grimes replaced Cook.
It didn't take Grimes long to make his mark as Sawyers did well in midfield to feed Purkiss on the right and his cross was gobbled up by the substitute to make it 1-1 on 72 minutes.
Moments later and with our tails up, Grimes rattled the woodwork as he made room for a strike on goal but his curling effort struck the inside of the post and rebounded away.
A positive burst by Hiwula sees him bundled off the ball inside the area but nothing was given by the referee.
A second Saddlers' change sees Hiwula replaced by Amadou Bakayoko with five minutes left on the clock.
Once again, the substitute was straight into the action as his close range header from a Forde cross was kept out by the 'keeper.
The next action saw Bakayoko see yellow for a late challenge.
A third change saw Sam Mantom replaced by Michael Cain.
There was a great save from Richard O'Donnell in stoppage time as a free-kick in a good position was initially blocked by the defensive wall before Ben Davies' low drive came through a crowd but was pushed away.
It was to be the final action as the game ended all square at 1-1.
The players left the field to Que Sera Sera... See you at Wembley for our next game!