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Walsall Senior Cup: Chasetown 1-0 Walsall

29 March 2023


Walsall Senior Cup: Chasetown 1-0 Walsall

29 March 2023

A young Walsall team missed out on a place in the final of the Walsall Senior Cup, despite a strong show of character, after a narrow defeat in their semi-final fixture to Northern Premier Division One outfit Chasetown FC.

Walsall started the game nervously with Chasetown having two early chances in the opening minutes, the second ending in a corner that was well saved by George Barrett in the Walsall goal.

The home side had the first good effort of the half 10 minutes in with a volley from the edge of the box from Ryan Shaw. The shot went wide of the post.

The Scholars had a second good chance minutes later as midfielder Jack Langstan met a cross with his head. Once again, the effort missed the target as Walsall began to grow into the game.

The Saddlers goal was threatened again from a free kick, 20 yards out. The wall did its job, but loose defending lead to a goal line save from Barrett in goal.

The home side came close again as they built on early pressure, a second of two chances hit the cross bar.

A string of chances came along again with Walsall looking shaky at the back. The away side managed to block the ball well four times, but continue to struggle to clear their lines.

Walsall's first attack of the game after some solid defensive work from Rio Sawyers who moved the ball forward to Marv Onabirekhanlen, who used his strength well to progress forward and win a corner.

Ronan Maher came close to putting the away side ahead, against the run of play, half an hour into the first half with Walsall's clearest effort on goal but his effort struck the post.

The home side had their best chance of the half three minutes from time as the ball flashed across the face of goal without a touch from any player.

The second half started as the first ended with Chasetown having the first chance followed by calls for handball, that were waved away by the referee instantly.

Maher had Walsall's second opportunity of the game but the midfielder’s effort was straight at Curtis Pond in goal.

Chasetown saw another chance go begging as substitute Keiron Berry saw his shot fly over the crossbar in the 68th minute.

The Saddlers withstood Chasetown pressure well and were able to create a chance on the counter attack. Samim Sarvari led the move playing Onabirekhanlen through whose cross fell to Piers Juliff. The forward was unable to direct his volley to towards goal as the move ended with a goal kick.

Another chance fell to The Scholars who were only denied by a strong athletic save from Barrett in the Walsall goal.

Walsall’s resistance was finally broken in the 75th minute when Berry fired in the winner off the underside of the crossbar.

Despite going a goal down, The Saddlers were able to grow back into the game and get some good spells of possession.

A tough game ended in defeat for The Saddlers. However, they can be proud of a performance that saw them fight until the final whistle and compete all over the pitch.

Academy Manager Rob Williams was impressed with how Barrett performed in goal and was pleased with the spirit that the team showed on the night given they were playing against a senior outfit.

“I'm proud of the lads,” he said.

“Obviously 0-0 at half time, it was always going to be backs against the wall, playing men’s football and this is our fourth game against men's teams this year and these were by far the highest in terms of level they play week in week out.

“So, the challenge was always going to be really high and I thought to a player they showed grit and determination, some fight, attitude and personality. They kept themselves in the game because of that.

“First off, we had lads playing wing back that weren’t wing backs so organisation in the first half was struggling a little, but as they grew into the game and we had the chance to talk at half time we looked more connected. Yes, we defended the box a lot but the lads were putting their bodies on the line, getting blocks in and George [Barrett] in goal made some great saves.”

Elsewhere, in their previous encounter, the Saddlers suffered a 5-1 defeat to Fleetwood Town last weekend. 

Match Report: Walsall 1-5 Fleetwood Town 

Walsall failed to build on their victory against Port Vale with a below par first half performance against Fleetwood Town.

In the opening minutes Walsall had a lot of possession, working the ball well down the left hand side as Tayshen Robinson and Kobe Wilkes linked up well with Ronan Maher to put pressure on Fleetwood's defence.

However, the visiting side took an early lead after the Saddlers allowed the ball to bounce from a goal kick, leading to a Fleetwood throw deep in the final third.

The away side capitalised and scored after weak defending saw the ball make its way across the box for a tap in.

The visitors had a chance to double their lead after another cross into the box found a blue shirt, but Wilkes was able to block the shot on the line.

From the resulting corner, Saddlers goalkeeper George Barrett made two great reaction saves from point blank range to keep the score at 1-0.

The home side had a chance to level midway through the first half. Right-back Dan Baldwin found his way down the right wing and played a pin point ball across to Jack Shaw who was waiting at the back post, Shaw was only able to slice the ball high and wide.

Fleetwood came even closer to doubling their lead on the half hour mark when Will Uchenna lost the ball in a dangerous position allowing Fleetwood's Pharrell Brown to make his way into the penalty area and strike at goal. The winger was denied by Noel Angafor who brilliantly cleared the ball off the line once again.

The Cod's were finally able double their lead with their easiest chance of the afternoon. Fleetwood striker Mickey Lane was brought down in the area after desperate defending from the Walsall defence. Lane got up and converted from the spot with Barrett going the wrong way.

Walsall would fall further behind in the closing minutes of the half through Kyle King's outstanding curling effort into the top right corner of Barrett's goal.

On the stroke of half time the away side would all but seal the three points from a corner resulting in Lane scoring a well executed header.

In a second half that lacked goal action Walsall showed more character and resilience all over the pitch and had good spells of possession. The home side just lacked the final ball and touch to create chances.

Walsall built pressure and were able to get a shot off through substitute Antonio Cristofaro. The ball was struck well but the visiting keeper was equal to the shot.

The Cod's then settled any defensive nerves when the ball looped into the top left corner over Barrett's head for their fifth goal of the game.

Walsall were able to get themselves a consolation goal through Ronan Maher. The midfielder beat the offside trap and with great composure rounded the keeper to get on the scoresheet.

In the closing minutes of the game, Walsall showed their best football keeping pressure on the Fleetwood players and creating chances going forward. Piers Juliff had the best chance with his shot beating the keeper but narrowly going wide.

A tough outing for the home side against top of the league Fleetwood ended in a disappointing result. 

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