Walsall were knocked out of the F.A Cup but can walk away with their heads held high as they fought West Ham to the end. The Saddlers were brave as they played great football against a very good side, fronted by the talents of Freddy Kanoute, Joe Cole and the brilliant Stuart Pearce. Don’t forget you can give your thoughts on the message board now.
Things started well, Aranalde’s cross reaching Angell who headed just over the bar as Walsall played some high-tempo football. But West Ham’s undoubted quality showed soon after as Kanoutes classy flick set Frank Lampard through to slot home. At this point Walsall could have buckled but they showed true determination to fight back.
Villa may have lost thier Angel, but Walsall’s own had one of his best games for the club today. He won a number of headers down the left were Zigor Aranalde and Darren Wrack were creating the better of Walsall’s attacks. In midfield Bennett and Bukran battled and refused to be over-ran despite the exploits of the brilliant Cole and Kanoute, whilst the defence was sturdy as they fought and niggled, with Tillson and Barras playing exeptionally when under pressure.
After good Walsall pressure a goal came, the ball was squared by Hall and as Song left the ball for Hislop in snuck Darren Wrack to score as Bescot erupted. West Ham reacted by forcing Jim Walker into two class saves and three straight corners, but having survived Walsall could have taken the lead as the half time whistle blew when Jorge Leitao pulled back instead of shooting. But fair to the balance of play, it was 1-1 at half time.
The second half was even, The Saddlers continued to pass about and West Ham seemed content to sit back and attack quickly on the break, this was evident as Walsall’s set play problems continued. A poor corner led to a break away as Joe Cole’s cross met the head of a soaring Karoute who was only ever giong to score. 2-1 West Ham.
Again the Saddlers fought back, Angell could have had a penalty after a Pearce nudge, and Walsall gained a succession of corners as teasing crosses from Hall, Wrack, and the impressive Aranalde were scrambled away. However Walsall were also lucky when Trevor Sinclair’s 30 yard screamer hit the bar, and Super Jimmy Walker was brilliant in making three consecutive superb saves to deny the Hammers forwards.
Kanoute’s quality has been underlined by MOTD in recent weeks, and his 2nd goal oozed class, a 25 yarder fizzing past Walker. At this point Walsall could have felt hard done by, but they stuck to the task. Jorge Leitao, who had been kept firmly in Stuart Pearce’s pocket was replaced by Byfield, Paul Hall came off for Keates as Gabby took to the right flank, and Marsh replaced Brightwell.
Marsh’s introduction was notable as Walsall earned some reward as a Brett Angell poachers goal making the result more respectable. West Ham worthy winners but the Saddlers matching them until the end, watch it on T.V tonight, it was a cracker.
Lad’s were proud of you.