Match Report: Walsall 3 Macclesfield Town 3 - Silkmen Win 3-1 on Penalties

Here is our Match Report from Tuesday evening's Carabao Cup - Round Two clash between Walsall and visitors, Macclesfield Town.
Walsall arrived at Tuesday evening's match in search of an all-too-rare place in the Third Round. Dean Keates side, who were yet to taste defeat in the 2018/19 campaign, have been in superb form, despite being among may pundits favourites for relegation.

Walsall started the match brightly, creating their first chance in just the second minute thanks to some good work from Luke Leahy and Josh Gordon who combined well to gift Maziar Kouhyar an early sight of goal, but Kieran O’Hara was alert in the Macclesfield goal to block the shot before his captain, David Fitzpatrick cleared the ball off the line.

The hosts continued to play well, seeing plenty of the ball and, seven minutes in, could have again opened the scoring as a move down the right saw Jack Fitzwater find Andy Cook who in turn picked out Gordon who saw his effort on goal blaze over the bar.

Macclesfield took their opportunity when it presented itself though, and with ten minutes on the clock, took an early lead as a Malachi Napa effort cannoned off the post and fell into the path of Jamie Grimes who bundled home from close range.

The game became something of a midfield battle following the goal as both sides took time to settle and enjoy spells of possession, with the Saddlers seeing plenty of the ball without really creating anything to test the Macclesfield defences.

The silkmen continued to break when presented with opportunity, and twenty-four minutes in, almost found a second goal as Napa cut inside before firing goal-wards from twenty-five yards, but his effort sailed wide of the upright without worrying Chris Dunn in the Walsall goal.

Moments later, the visitors did double their advantage with a right-footed Harry Smith effort from twenty yards which nestled in the bottom left corner.

Finding himself in space, twenty-five yards out, Kieron Morris unleashed a powerful effort in the thirty-third minute, which sailed into the top corner to bring the Saddlers back to within a goal of their visitors.

Walsall almost found a route back onto level terms two minutes after securing their first goal, winning a corner which captain, George Dobson played the ball in to Leahy, whose headed effort hit the top of the bar.

The Saddlers continued to press, looking for an equaliser, as we raced towards half-time, and almost found one in the forty-fourth minute, as Cook turned smartly on the edge of the box before firing a low driven effort goal-wards, but O’Hara was on hand for the visitors to palm the ball wide and keep his side ahead, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

Two additional minutes were added to end the half, with Morris unfortunate not to draw his side level during them, instead seeing his effort from range tipped over, with the corner again coming to nothing to see Macclesfield take a two-goal-to-one lead into the interval.

1 - 2

The sides returned unchanged after the break, and Macclesfield got the second half got underway. The Saddlers picked up where they had left off, with Morris firing the first effort of the half wide just moments after the re-start.

With forty-nine minutes on the clock, Malachi Napa became the first name in the referee’s notebook, as the midfielder was booked for a foul on Jon Guthrie.

Both sides took a little time to settle back into the game, with the Saddlers enjoying long spells of possession without creating anything going forwards.

Fifty-two minutes in, Nathan Blissett joined Napa in the referee’s notebook, seeing yellow for a foul on Kane Wilson.

Two minutes later, there was a brief halt to proceedings, after Fiacre Kelleher and James Pearson clashed heads, with the latter requiring treatment before getting to his feet to continue. The match re-started but was again brought to a halt in the fifty-eighth minute following another collision, this time between teammates, as Dunn and Fitzwater came together as they pooled resources to prevent Smith extending Macclesfields lead, with the former requiring a spell of treatment before continuing.

With sixty-two minutes on the clock, Kelleher conceded a penalty with a tug on Cook’s shirt inside the box, which saw the striker grounded. Cook stepped up to take the spot-kick, which O’Hara saved, but the forward was alert to the rebound and tapped home.

The Saddlers continued their comeback three minutes later, with Wilson and Kouhyar combining well to gift Gordon a four yard tap in, which saw Walsall take the lead for the first time in the game.

There was little action of note in the following ten minutes, as the hosts continued to push forward when the mood struck them, though without really looking likely to extend their lead.

With seventy-four minutes on the clock, the Silkmen opted to make their first change of the evening as they looked for a route back into the game. Malachi Napa the man to make way as Tyrone Marsh entered the fray.

Seventy-six minutes in, Luke Leahy picked up the first Walsall booking of the game.

With seventy-seven minutes on the clock, the visitors opted to make their two final changes of the evening, with Callum Maycock and Nathan Blissett departing early as Scott Wilson and Miles Welch-Hayes took their places.

The pace slowed following the changes, with the action largely confined to the midfield area as the sides cancelled each other out, but five minutes from time, the Silkmen did manage to break forward, with Danny Whitaker picking up a clearance from Dunn and firing a right footed effort goal-wards from outside the box, but the effort looped onto the roof of the net.

Moments later, with the ball up at the other end, Morris raced into the box and should have secured the Saddlers fourth of the evening and put the tie to bed, but O’Hara was alert and tipped the ball behind, with the corner coming to nothing.

Walsall opted to make their first change in the eighty-ninth minute, with Dylan Parker taking the place of Josh Gordon.

The board went up to indicate six additional minutes would be played, but the visitors needed just one of them to bring the score level, with a cross from Marsh finding it’s way through the crowd and into the bottom corner. That would be enough to ensure that the tie ended all-square and a penalty shoot-out would be needed to decide a winner.

Walsall took the first of the penalties, with Cook seeing his spot-kick saved by O’Hara. Whitaker followed and he emphatically fired home. O’Hara was again on hand to prevent Leahy’s penalty kick finding it’s target, before Smith doubled his sides advantage with a coolly taken spot-kick. Kouyhar managed to beat the Macclesfield ‘keeper to keep his side in the game, before Fitzpatrick put a third past Dunn.

The final penalty of the evening was taken by Morris, but again O’Hara got to the ball to keep it out ensuring his side would progress into the round of the Carabao Cup, with the Saddlers run ending here.

3 - 3
Morris (33')
Cook (63')
Gordon (64')

Cook - Missed
Leahy - Missed
Kouhyar - Scored
Morris - Missed
Grimes (10')
Smith (25')
Marsh (90+1')

Whitaker - Scored
Smith - Scored
Fitzpatrick - Scored

Attendance: 2,352 (177)
Referee: Darren Drysdale
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