Walsall 2-0 Fleetwood TownGoals from George Evans and Anthony Forde saw Fleetwood Town’s FA Cup journey end with a 2-0 defeat at Walsall despite the Cod Army creating a number of goal scoring opportunities.
Town put heavy pressure on the Walsall goal but were unable to find a break through against the League One leaders but a number of encouraging signs for manager Steven Pressley to take away.
The boss made three changes for the game against the high flying Saddlers at the Banks’s Stadium.
Tyler Forbes made his first start under Pressley, as a right sided forward, whilst Jimmy Ryan also returned after missing the Chesterfield match through suspension.
The final alternation saw Joe Davis come in for his first start for the Club, Dionatan Teixeira missing out as he was not granted permission by Stoke City to play.
It was a positive start from the men in yellow and blue in the Midlands. David Ball, buoyant after his FIFA nomination, fooled Matt Preston to escape the defender’s tackle, directing a cross to Jamie Proctor at the back post, the striker miss hit his half volley.
Forbes, who added pace to the Fleetwood Town attacking line, utilised his change of speed excellently to create Town’s second chance in the eighth minute, but his effort didn’t match, blazing over from 20-yards.
In the 19th minute Walsall took the lead as Evans was left in space on the edge of the penalty box to drive a low effort past Maxwell into the right hand corner.
Town didn't let their heads drop and were seeing the ball inside the Walsall half but the final pass to create a goal scoring opportunity was not coming off.
Closing into the half time interval, Walsall had two further chances to punish the Cod Army. First, Tom Bradshaw, recently named in the Welsh national team for their friendly against Holland, turned away from Nathan Pond before an onrushing Chris Maxwell palmed the ball away.
Minutes later, Eggert Jonsson gave possession away in the Town half to Romaine Sawyers, with Pond the last man, the skipper made an important block for his team on what was his 400th Fleetwood Town appearance.
But Town should have walked into the away dressing room at half time level. A sweet Conor McLaughlin cross was crying out for a Fleetwood shirt to tuck home, but to no avail as the half time whistle went with all to play for in the second half.
The gaffer made his first change at the start of the second half, Jamille Matt, who is from the Midlands, replacing Proctor.
Kieron Morris had the opening chance of the second period, a rasping shot at Maxwell but the keeper comfortably collected from 20-yards.
Town were showing signs of promise with this cup tie far from over as Sarcevic had an overhead kick go over the bar after good work from Forbes and Ryan to win a corner kick.
With quarter of an hour remaining, Pressley’s men won a free-kick on the left as Ball was fouled by Paul Downing.
A whipped cross into the middle was met by sub Matt but no real penetration on the header resulted in an easy save for the Walsall goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Fleetwood Town’s final two changes saw Declan McManus and Nick Haughton come on for Egger Jonsson and Ball.
And it was McManus who had Fleetwood’s best chance to find an equalising goal. The Scottish U21 international escaped his marker and a shot trickled just past the far post, so close to his first ever goal in the FA Cup.
Town were knocking for that equaliser as Matt crashed a half volley just wide of the post from just inside the penalty area.
The chances were flooding as Haughton played a elegant pass down the line from Haughton to Forbes saw the former PNE man play the ball central for Matt who just couldn’t turn home.
Instantly from Matt’s chance, Antoni Sarcevic, who had worked tirelessly throughout, had a goal mouth scramble shot hit off the line as the Cod Army franticly pushed for an equaliser.
In stoppage time, captain Pond, powered a header over the frame from a Haughton free-kick on the right.
But unfortunately for Fleetwood Town, they couldn’t find an equalising goal despite their encouraging late fight back.
Walsall rounded the game off in stoppage time as Town pushed men forward as sub Forde curled the ball beyond Maxwell’s reach in what was a harsh result. The focus now turns to Sheffield United on Tuesday night.