Young Saddlers knocked out of the FA Youth Cup...
Walsall’s Under-18s were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup in the first round after losing to Chesterfield.
Ethan Freemantle put the Saddlers ahead just before half-time, but Charles Wakefield equalised almost immediately after the restart.
Owen Darwent’s rasping drive turned the tie on its head and Joe Rowley sealed the Spireites’ passage into round two with an expertly-taken penalty.
Graham Biggs once again took charge of the young Saddlers, who entered the match in red hot form, having won six successive matches without conceding a goal.
While there were fireworks exploding outside the stadium, there was little sparkle on the pitch in a low-key opening period.
Walsall were doing most of the pressing but it wasn’t until midway through the half that they created a meaningful chance.
Tobias Hayles-Docherty did superbly out on the right, skinning Conner Fowler and accurately pulling the ball back for Cameron Peters, but his attempt was smothered by home keeper Dylan Parkin.
The Saddlers took the lead four minutes before the break, Freemantle sweeping the ball home from 12 yards after a well-worked team move involving Will Shorrock and Cameron Peters.
The visitors had their tails up, with goalscorer Freemantle firing off target from distance as the visitors pushed for a quick-fire second.
But Walsall’s lead didn’t last long, as Wakefield fired home from an acute angle - less than 30 seconds into the second half - to bring Chesterfield back on level terms.
With the wind in their sails, the home side – who had been so subdued in the first 45 – went ahead eight minutes later.
Rowley’s left-wing cross took a wicked deflection and came back off the post, with Dan Vann then making a miraculous goal-line clearance to keep out Ricky German’s follow-up header.
The danger wasn’t averted, though, as from the resulting corner, Darwent arrowed a sweet right-footed strike into the corner of the net.
Walsall responded positively to that setback, with Ben Kendrick and Freemantle each testing Parkin and Peters firing wide via a deflection.
But Chesterfield put the game beyond Biggs’ side on 68 minutes.
Vann’s weak back header was pounced upon by German, who was upended by the onrushing Ganley.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Rowley confidently converted the resulting penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way.
The Saddlers refused to throw in the towel and had a huge chance to reduce the arrears with 11 minutes remaining.
Shorrock lifted a lovely ball over the home defence for Peters but his tame half-volley was parried by Parkin when he really should have scored.
Substitute Dan O’Sullivan then headed inches wide from Ashley Maddocks’ pinpoint cross but Walsall were unable to find a route back into the tie as Chesterfield held on to reach round two.
Walsall team: Ganley, Tonks, Cockerill-Mollett, Cela, Vann, Kendrick, Hayles-Docherty (O'Sullivan 63’), Maddocks, Peters, Shorrock, Freemantle.
Subs not used: Cairns, Fisher, Candlin, Mason.