FA Cup Match Report: Walsall 3 Coventry City 2 FA Cup Match Report: Walsall 3 Coventry City 2
Posted by: Bescot Banter

FA Cup Match Report: Walsall 3 Coventry City 2

Here is our Match Report from Saturday afternoon's Emirates FA Cup - First Round clash between Walsall and Coventry City.
Following two home league defeats on the bounce Dean Keates' Saddlers arrived at this match in need of a positive display as they looked to reach the Second Round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2015.

Following an impeccably observed minute’s silence, the match got underway, with a round of applause of young Saddlers fan, Teddie who sadly passed away following an eleven month battle with illness, following in the second minute.

There was a brief pause in proceedings as a fourth minute lunge from Jonson Clarke-Harris left Nicky Devlin requiring treatment, but the Walsall man was soon up and able to continue.

Coventry City began the game brightly, and could have opened the scoring in the seventh minute as a good run through the middle from Clarke-Harris culminated in Jordan Shipley firing a weak effort straight into the arms of Saddlers shot-stopper, Liam Roberts. Moments later, the visiting side called Roberts into action again, as former Walsall man, Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila found space on the left, cut inside and fired a shot goal-wards, but the man between the sticks remained alert and palmed the ball clear.

Walsall soon had the ball up at the other end, with Josh Gordon picking up the ball in good position outside the box before firing a shot in from range, but his effort sailed high over the crossbar without troubling the Sky Blues goalkeeper.

Moments later, with just twelve minutes on the clock, the Saddlers got forward again, with a delightful back-heel from Zeli Ismail setting up Andy Cook who turned home his eighth goal of the season, with Coventry shot-stopper, Lee Burge unable to get to the ball in time.

Coventry looked for an immediate reply, racing up to the other end, where Clarke-Harris was played in inside the box and looked to poke the ball past Roberts, but the Walsall defences stood firm and cleared the ball off the line, with the resulting corner coming to nothing with Abu Ogogo’s effort being well blocked.

With twenty minutes on the clock, Coventry again found themselves in shooting range as they continued to hunt a route back onto level terms, but Shipley’s close-range effort trickled inches wide of the upright.

After a slightly quieter spell, Walsall won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the twenty-fifth minute, but Luke Leahy was unable to get the ball past the wall. Josh Ginnelly picked up the loose ball thirty-five yards from goal though and fired a thunderous effort goal-wards, but the ball sailed inches over the crossbar without troubling Burge in the Coventry goal.

With twenty-eight minutes on the clock, Ginnelly doubled the Saddlers advantage, picking up a lofted pass from Walsall captain, George Dobson which Jordan Thompson had failed to clear and flicking it round Burge, into the back of the net.

The visiting side looked to find a quick response to get themselves back in the game, but Hiwula’s thirty-first minute effort sailed narrowly wide of the upright. Two minutes later, Clarke-Harris was though able to bring his side back to within one goal of the Saddlers, picking up a loose ball ahead of Jon Guthrie and slotting it past Roberts.

The action continued at a fast pace, with some lovely end-to-end action, though little in the way of efforts on goal, before three additional minutes were played to end the first-half. Those passed without note too and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with Walsall leading by two-goals-to-one.

2 - 1

The two sides returned unchanged after the break, and Coventry got the second-half got underway. The visiting side started the half brightly as they looked to restore parity, but thankfully for Walsall, Hiwula’s forty-ninth minute cross to Shipley could not be converted by the Sky Blues midfielder.

The game became something of a midfield battle as it continued, with little goalmouth action from either side, until the fifty-fourth minute, when a lovely counter-attacking move from the Saddlers saw Ismail combine with Gordon before the latter's shot sailed well wide of the upright.

With fifty-six minutes on the clock, Coventry found the equaliser, through Luke Thomas who picked up the loose ball from a clearance and fired under Roberts and into the bottom corner.

Luke Thomas was then shown the first yellow card of the afternoon, picking up a booking for his celebration.

There was a brief halt to proceedings as we reached the hour mark, allowing Hiwula to receive treatment, but he was soon back on his feet and able to continue.

Walsall felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the sixty-second minute as Dobson was felled in the area, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

With sixty-two minutes played, Jordan Shipley became the second player to see yellow, entering the referee’s notebook for a foul on Ismail.

Walsall should have re-taken the lead in the sixty-sixth minute, with Leahy finding Cook in the box with a neat cross, but the strikers headed effort could only find the crossbar before Ginnelly picked up a loose ball and fired an effort in from range, which Jordan Willis did well to block, with the resulting corner coming to nothing.

The Saddlers again felt they should have seen a penalty awarded in the seventieth minute, as Gordon was pulled back in the box, but the referee disagreed and allowed play to continue.

Coventry opted to make a double change in the seventy-first minute, with both Abu Ogogo and Luke Thomas departing early as Jodi Jones and Tom Bayliss took their places.

Fifteen minutes from time, Brandon Mason became the third player to be shown the yellow card as the referee booked him for a foul on Liam Kinsella.

Walsall should have put themselves back ahead moments later, as a Guthrie effort was blocked on the line by Dom Hyam before a goal-line scramble ensued, which ultimately saw the referee award a free-kick to the visitors.

Russell Martin became the first Saddler to see yellow in the seventy-sixth minute, picking up a card for a poor challenge.

With seventy-seven minutes played, Walsall found their way back in-front, with a lovely move from Kinsella setting up Devlin who needed no second invitation to fire a thunderous strike into the top corner.

Coventry looked to respond immediately, with the visiting side winning a free-kick in a dangerous position just three minutes after the goal, but Shipley was unable to keep his effort on target, with the ball sailing wide of the post.

In the eighty-first minute, City opted to make their third and final change of the afternoon, with Jordy Hiwula making way for Conor Chaplin.

The game settled back into a battle of the midfield as time ebbed away, with neither side able to create much going forwards.

In the eighty-seventh minute, an argument on the pitch led to Andy Cook becoming the second Saddler to see yellow.

Six additional minutes were added to end the game, with the Saddlers opting to make their first change of the afternoon seconds into them, as Kieron Morris took the place of Josh Ginnelly. There was little further action of note as the Saddlers held firm to their slender lead, and eventually the referee brought an end to the contest with Walsall seeing out the victory by three-goals-to-two to reach the second round of the FA Cup.

3 - 2
Cook (12')
Ginnelly (28')
Devlin (77')
Clarke-Harris (33')
Thomas (56')

Attendance: 4,760 (2,665)
Referee: Thomas Bramall
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