THE FA CUP | MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Macclesfield Town 1 THE FA CUP | MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Macclesfield Town 1

THE FA CUP | MATCH REPORT | Walsall 0 Macclesfield Town 1

On Saturday afternoon the Saddlers played host to Macclesfield Town in the latest First Round of this season's Emirates FA Cup competition. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.
On Saturday afternoon the Saddlers played host to Macclesfield Town in the latest First Round of this season's Emirates FA Cup competition. We were in attendance, and our match report is below.

After an impeccably observed minutes silence, as we paused to remember those who have fought for our freedom, the match got underway. After something of a slow start, Joe Edwards fired in the first shot of the match, eight minutes into the tie, but his twenty five yard effort didn't trouble Craig Ross in the Macclesfield Town goal, as it sailed well wide of the post. Following the goal kick, Edwards picked up the ball again, some forty yards out. The midfielder ran from deep, seeing off several challenges en route, before firing a low shot goal-wards. This time Ross did need to make a save, which he did well.

Ten minutes in, Maclesfield created a chance of their own, as Jack Sampson got in behind the Saddlers defensive line and poked the ball past Neil Etheridge who had come out to the edge of his area. Sampson should have opened the scoring, but Matt Preston was on hand to clear. A big let off for the home team.

The match continued as something of a midfield battle, with little real goal-scoring threat from either side. The best chance during the second ten minutes, coming from Franck Moussa, who fired wide from twenty yards following some decent build-up play from Erhun Oztumer and Simeon Jackson.

With twenty two minutes on the clock, the Walsall 'keeper became the first man to be booked, after he brought down Paul Lewis just outside the box, after the visiting midfielder pounced on a weak back header from Preston. The visiting supporters felt Etheridge's challenge warranted a straight red, but luckily for the Saddlers, the referee was having none of it, awarding the man between the sticks a yellow and the visiting team a free-kick.

Danny Whitaker delivered the free-kick perfectly for John McCombe who headed the ball neatly home at the  near post to give his side a one-goal lead. Tempers flared following the restart and Sampson joined Etheridge in the referee's notebook as he was cautioned for a challenge on Scott Laird.

Macclesfield dominated following the goal, and they probably should have doubled their advantage in the twenty eighth minute, when a cross into the box from Danny Rowe fell to Andy Halls, but the defender blazed the ball high over the crossbar. A few minutes later, Rowe turned in another shot, firing low towards the bottom left corner. At full stretch, Etheridge got his fingers to the ball to keep it out.

Ten minutes later, Etheridge was again put under pressure, when a strike from distance from David Fitzpatrick came his way. The Walsall shot-stopper got behind the ball and pushed it away. Moments later, up at the other end, the Saddlers called the Macclesfield 'keeper, who had enjoyed a rather quiet afternoon, into action, as Oztumer fired a fierce drive towards the top corner. Ross was alert, and pulled off a spectacular one-handed save to palm the ball away and keep his sides lead intact.

As we headed into the minute of additional time, a cross from the right from Moussa fell to Laird, who poked the ball inches wide of the net, and the Silkmen took their one goal lead into the break.


As the teams emerged from the dressing rooms, Macclesfield opted to make a change, replacing Neill Byrne with Mitch Hancox. The Silkmen started the half as they had played much of the first half, immediately launching an attack on the Saddlers goal as a stray pass from Etheridge was intercepted by Sampson, who took the ball round the Walsall 'keeper before firing from a tight angle. Fortunately for the Saddlers, he could only hit the post.

As we reached the hour mark, Ross was called into action between the Macclesfield sticks, as Kevin Toner took aim. His hooked effort took a deflection and fell to Simeon Jackson who also sent a shot towards the visitors goal from close range, but Ross was alert and saved well. Five minutes later, and back at the other end, Lewis fired in a blistering right-footed driven effort from distance, which sailed just over the bar.

Twenty minutes into the second half, the Walsall bench chose to make their first change of the afternoon, with Franck Moussa making way for Amadou Bakayoko. Moments after the change, the Saddlers won a corner as the ball deflected out off McCombe. The cross in was good, but Ross was first to it and punched clear, before a follow-up shot blazed over the bar.

With twenty minutes of the game remaining, the ball came to Oztumer some twenty five yards from goal, the Walsall midfielder set himself to shoot, but distracted by his Macclesfield counterparts, fired high into the stands.

Fifteen minutes from time, the Walsall bench decided another change was needed, and off came Josh Ginnelly, who had been rather inconspicuous for much of the game, in place of Andreas Makris.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of possession as we headed into the final ten minutes, and some good play from Sampson set up Lewis, whose shot took a deflection high into the evening sky. Moments later, the home side worked the ball up to the other end, where Laird fired a low, left-footed effort goal-wards. Ross was alert and tipped the ball around the upright to keep his side in front.

Two minutes from time, the visitors almost doubled their lead, as Whitaker fired an effort in from the edge of the area. The midfielders effort sailed inches wide of the post, and the Saddler's slim hopes of earning a place in the second round draw remained alive. The home team were quick to work the ball up to the other end, as they sought a late equaliser. A neat pass from Oztumer picked out Jackson, who drilled a shot in from twenty yards, but the ball flew narrowly wide of the right-hand upright. With time fast running out, Bakayoko fired a shot in, but also put the ball just wide of the Macclesfield goal.

During two additional minutes, the visitors went close to putting the tie to bed, as Kingsley James sent a speculative volley in from distance, which sailed just wide of goal, but ultimately their twenty third minute goal proved enough and the Saddlers exited the cup in the first round. A disappointing afternoon for Walsall, but perhaps one with a silver lining, allowing the team to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

GOALS | McCombe (23')
ATTENDANCE | 2,334 (451 Away)
REFEREE | Mr. Brett Huxtable
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