MATCH REPORT: WALSALL 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 2 MATCH REPORT: WALSALL 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 2

MATCH REPORT: WALSALL 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 2

Earlier this evening Walsall Football Club played host to near rivals Shrewsbury Town in the First Round of this season's Football Association Challenge Cup competition. Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton was in attendance, and shares his Match Report below.

Earlier this evening Walsall Football Club played host to near rivals Shrewsbury Town in the First Round of this season's Football Association Challenge Cup competition. Bescot Banter columnist Scott Brotherton was in attendance, and shares his Match Report below.

The Shrewsbury fans had certainly got in the spirit of an FA Cup local derby. They had come in force and couldn't have wished for a better start.

First a thunderous cross across the box somehow evaded everybody when all it needed was a toe to prod it home, but it didn't matter as Salop grabbed the lead in just the fifth minute.

A deep corner was headed out only as far as Mark Ellis, and the centre-half looked like a seasoned striker as he slotted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

Richard O'Donnell had to be alert to get a strong hand on the ball from another drilled cross, stopping it from becoming 2-0 in a matter of minutes.

Walsall's first chance came when Anthony Forde's looping corner found an unmarked James Chambers at the far post, but his header was grabbed by goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler who had also shuffled across to the back stick.

After their early success Shrewsbury weren't exactly rushing dead-ball situations and that approach rather disrupted the play and led to a lull in the game.

On 25 minutes Forde hit a left-footed drive that grazed the side-netting but the Saddlers were struggling to penetrate with most of Micky Mellon's team behind the ball.

After another dull spell in the game Shrewsbury had a rare counter around seven minutes from half-time and should have scored. A pinpoint cross found James Collins totally free just a few yards out but he wasn't counting on O'Donnell making surely one of his best saves in a Walsall shirt.

The number one could do nothing except spread himself as much as possible, and Collins' close-range header pinged into the heavens off O'Donnell's right boot.

The danger wasn't over though, as the ball came down and cannoned back into play off the top of the crossbar, with O'Donnell finally clawing it to safety. It would prove to be a massive moment in the context if the match...

Ex-Shrewsbury man Tom Bradshaw was being marshalled well by his former teammates in a quiet first-half, however he was played in on the stroke of half-time forcing Leutwiler to beat away his near-post effort.

It was more of the same in the second half, with Shrewsbury content to sit back and really make Dean smith's men work to find an opening.

Forde's powerful attempt was fisted away by the goalkeeper but there was nothing Leutwiler could do about the equaliser on 56 minutes, and there was only one man who could have scored it.

Yes, after being given such a hard time by the same fans who were cheering him last year, Bradshaw got his revenge. It was one of the few times the striker had found a yard of space, so when Romaine Sawyers slid the ball into his path he buried the finish. And boy did he celebrate it!

Salop frustration didn't last long though - they were back in front on the hour mark. Andy Mangan's free kick looked to be headed straight down O'Donnell's throat but, intentionally or not, Collins diverted the poor effort into the opposite corner. It totally wrong-footed the keeper and was made even worse by the fact that the Saddlers thought Collins had dived to win his team that set piece in the first place.

In response Andy Taylor drove wide from distance and substitute Mathieu Manset did well to find Bradshaw, who flicked his near-post header over the bar.

Deano then threw caution to the wind, sending on Sam Mantom and Ashley Grimes as well as Manset to try and get the illusive leveller. It was becoming harder and harder though against the visitors' ten-men-behind-the-ball tactics, especially with the threat they posed on the counter.

Shrewsbury were certainly time-wasting when they could get away with it and, while Leutwiler was one of the main culprits, the Swiss stopper was genuinely injured with 20 minutes to go. It gave an unlikely club debut to sub keeper Mark Halstead after his move from Blackpool in the summer.

Manset then latched onto a long ball into box but the volley required perfect execution, and the Frenchman scuffed it into Halstead's grateful arms.

Another glancing header from Bradshaw just fizzed off target and Taylor sliced one an effort horribly from a short corner, which definitely amused the away supporters.

But they weren't laughing in the 90th minute and, having looked like they would be unable to break through, Bradshaw got a huge slice of fortune to earn an FA Cup replay.

With all of the Saddlers piled forward it was Paul Downing who dragged a shot and it got a massive deflection off Bradshaw into the corner past a helpless Halstead.

 F/T  Walsall 2 Shrewsbury Town 2 

It was arguably what Walsall deserved and at least the luck evened itself out - it would have been cruel to go out to Collins' deflected finish. Now they face an extremely tricky midweek replay at the Greenhous Meadow.


  RESULT    WALSALL     2     SHREWSBURY TOWN       
  GOALS    Bradshaw 56' & 90' - Ellis 5', Collins 61'  
  ATT   3,546 (1,217 Shrewsbury Town) 
  REFEREE   Mr. Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire) 

 WALSALL  O'Donnell; Purkiss, J.Chambers, Downing, Taylor; A.Chambers ©, Cain; Baxendale (Manset 65'    ), Sawyers (Grimes 81'), Forde (Mantom 71'); Bradshaw

 SUBS NOT USED  MacGillivray; O'Connor, Benning; Flanagan

 SHREWSBURY TOWN  Leutwiler (Halstead 71'    ); Goldson    , Knight-Percival, Ellis, Gayle, Woods    , Grant (Clark 65'), Lawrence ©    , Demetriou (Wesolowski 45'), Mangan    , Collins

 SUBS NOT USED  Vernon, Wildig, Griffith, Vincent
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