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Match Reports

Match Report: Sheppey United 1-4 Walsall

5 November 2023

Match Reports

Match Report: Sheppey United 1-4 Walsall

5 November 2023

The Saddlers advanced into the second round of the Emirates FA Cup with a professional performance away at eight-tier outfit Sheppey Unted on Friday evening in front of the TV cameras.

Head Coach Mat Sadler made two changes to the side that suffered defeat against Mansfield Town last Saturday at the One Call Stadium. There was a return to the starting XI for Oisin McEntee who missed the game against the Stags through injury whilst Douglas James-Taylor came in to lead the line up top as Brandon Comley and Danny Johnson were dropped and named amongst the substitutes.

It was a lively opening to the tie as the Saddlers enjoyed the majority of the ball and their first opportunity fell with eight minutes on the clock. Tom Knowles did well to find James-Taylor in space and the forward struck an effort at goal under pressure and it looked to be going on target but it was soon blocked and went out for a corner. The resulting delivery from Ross Tierney found McEntee towards the back-post but the defender’s header went wide of the mark.

The floodgate for chances soon opened after this as Sadler’s side had further opportunities in the space of a few minutes. Tierney found some space on 9 minutes and had a strike from distance which went wide before McEntee did well to reach the byline and pull the ball back to James-Taylor but the forward’s effort was blocked by a defender. James-Taylor then had another effort shortly after but Aidan Prall was on hand to save the curled effort.

The Saddlers continued to run riot with chances that came and went and on 21 minutes the hosts took a surprise lead. The ball was switched from right to left in a matter of moments and James Bessey-Saldanha picked the ball up and shifted inside before taking a fierce drive at goal from distance and Owen Evans was unable to get a hand to it as it nestled into the net, much to the delight of the Sheppey faithful.

Sadler’s side continued to plug away and create additional chances to get themselves back into the game. On 29 minutes, Liam Gordon played the ball through to Knowles and his pull back found James-Taylor whose effort beat the keeper but was cleared away by Connor Wilkins as it trickled towards the goal.

The pressure soon paid off for the visitors as a misplaced back-pass by Joshua Wisson saw James-Taylor pick up the ball and drive into space before taking on his man and guiding his effort into the bottom corner from a tight angle on 31 minutes.

Back on level terms, the Saddlers produced further opportunities but Prall was the star of the show for the hosts as he continued to keep the visitors out with save after save. On 40 minutes, Ryan Stirk picked up the ball and composed himself before sending an effort from distance towards the top corner but the Sheppey keeper managed to get the finest of fingertips to the effort and the teams went into the break level.

The hosts made a bright start to the second half and had two opportunities in the opening five minutes. On 47 minutes, a ball into the box by Frankie Morgan was met at the back-post by substitute Alexander Willis but his effort could only find the side netting. On 50 minutes there was a huge let off for the Saddlers – Richie Hammill’s ball from the left-hand side saw Evans come off his line to collect but the goalkeeper was nowhere near it and the ball eventually found its way to a Sheppey man but the effort at an empty net went wide.

Sheppey would go on to rue those missed chances as within a minute the Saddlers took the lead. Knowles was free in the middle of the park and picked up the ball before driving into space, coming onto his favored right-foot and slotting a curled effort into the back of the net.

From then on, it was all Walsall as they held majority of possession and fashioned further chances at goal. Their efforts were rewarded on 63 minutes as a marauding run by captain Donervon Daniels saw the defender flick his pass towards the edge of the box and although it was missed by James-Taylor, Tierney was on hand to slot a first-timed effort on his weaker side into the back of the net to put the Saddlers in firm control.

As the half progressed, Sadler made the first of his four changes on the evening as Comley was introduced in place of David Okagbue.

The Saddlers rounded off the scoring on 87 minutes as Isaac Hutchinson was on hand to bundle the ball home after Prall had parried an effort away from James-Taylor. There were shouts for a free-kick to be awarded with Sheppey players and fans claiming Prall had two hands on the ball but the referee awarded the goal.

Sadler then made a triple change as Rollin Menayese (returning to the field after a lengthy spell on the sidelines), youngster Dylan Thomas and Danny Johnson were introduced in place of McEntee, Knowles and James-Taylor and that was the last of the action as we secured our place in the next round of the competition.

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