Shoot-out despair for luckless Blues

Jay O'Shea sends a shot just wide - a costly miss as it turned out. Pic By James Williamson
Jay O'Shea sends a shot just wide - a costly miss as it turned out. Pic By James Williamson
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Spireites’ skipper Sam Morsy smashed his shoot-out penalty high over the bar as Walsall scored all five of theirs to earn a third round trip to Dean Smith’s Brentford.

After a goalless 120 minutes Walsall’s first four penalties were scored by Romaine Sawyers, Jason Demetriou, George Evans and Milan Lalkovic before defender Paul Downing made it five from five.

Jay O’Shea scored Spireites first before Morsy’s miss whilst Lee Novak and Liam O’Neil converted theirs.

It was a sorry end to the night for Chesterfield and their travelling fans in the FA Cup.

Walsall came closest to scoring in regulation play, Adam Chambers forced a top drawer save from Tommy Lee close to the end of extra time and Kieron Morris hit the bar soon after. O’Shea, in the second half of normal time, came closest to scoring for the visitors.

Mark Smith made three changes to the side that lost at Bury, though two of the incomers, Dan Gardner and O’Shea, both played the whole second half at Gigg Lane. Lee Novak returned after missing that trip with a calf injury. Out went Sam Hird, Dion Donohue and leading scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and the switch to 4-4-2 meant that O’Neil started at right back.

Walsall, whose weekend game was rained off, remained without their injured main goal getter, Tom Bradshaw, Jordan Cook remained as the lone striker.

The first half was instantly forgettable. Lee made a routine early save to keep out Sawyers whilst an Ian Evatt header from Ollie Banks’ free-kick forced Neil Etheridge into a save that was as straight forward as they come.

Anthony Forde’s 25 yard free-kick after an Evatt handball and yellow card clipped the wall and flew out for a corner whilst, just before the interval, Jay O’Shea hit wide from a tight angle and as for chances, that was about it. Arguably the most memorable first 45 moment was when Evatt tackled Jordan Cook and the soggy surface saw his inertia take him through to crash into linesman Mr Knapp and floor the flag man.

Chesterfield were much livelier after the break but were unable to put sustained pressure on Walsall’s goal, but they continually kept the promotion chasers at bay with the best defensive show by a Spireites side for some weeks.

Charlie Raglan was immense at the heart of the back four, repelling the red shirted hosts time and again and Evatt did the physical stuff in style. O’Neil put in his best shift in a blue shirt whilst Drew Talbot looks a decent solution to the left back shortage.

Walsall skipper Adam Chambers showed plenty of class at the end; as his team mates celebrated, he went to the Chesterfield contingent to commiserate with Morsy and his defeated troops.

Try though they did, Spireites did not muster enough efforts on target but the interim boss will derive more positives than negatives from this display as he looks to prepare the team for the tough looking visit of Bradford City.

Novak and Banks looked to have picked up knocks that could hamper their availability.

Walsall: Etheridge, Demetriou, O’Connor, Downing, Taylor, Forde, Chambers, Mantom (Lalkovic 67), Sawyers, Evans (Baxendale 105), Cook (Morris 85). Subs: MacGillivray, Preston, Flanagan, Kinsella.

Chesterfield: Lee, O’Neil, Raglan, Evatt, Talbot, Gardner Ariyibi HT), Morsy, Banks (Donohue 102), O’Shea, Novak, Dieseruvwe (Ebanks-Blake 76). Subs: Cairns, Hird, Humphreys, Simons.

Ref: Charles Breakspear (Surrey)

Bookings: O’Shea, Evatt (Chesterfield), Evans, Taylor (Walsall)

Attendance: 2953 (334 from Chesterfield)