If anyone started to get carried away with our fantastic start to the season, then last night gave us a wake up call that it really isn’t going to be easy.
We bowed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the first hurdle to a Morecambe side whose season has been indifferent so far in their League 2 campaign.
The Saddlers will feel very hard done by – considering the astonishing thirty one shots at goal but very much like last season – the Saddlers just couldn’t find the back of the net.
Smith made six changes (two enforced) to the side which defeated Blackpool at the weekend. In came Matt Preston, Kieron Morris, Milan Lalkovic, James Baxendale, with Liam Kinsella and Craig MacGilivray replacing Etheridge and Demetriou who were on international duty.
It took until the eighth minute for the Saddlers to have their first real chance. Baxendale’s shot was excellently tipped over by the impressive Roche and from the resulting corner – Milan Lalkovic’s shot was blocked from close range.
The Saddlers continued their dominance of possession and it was Morris who had the next effort, dragging his shot well wide from a promising position.
The hosts had their first chance just under the half hour mark with the menacing Barkhuizen whose cross found Fleming unmarked but he somehow missed from six yards out.
Morris and Bradshaw had long range efforts easily claimed by Roche before Morecambe showed glimpses of their counter attack threat as Barkhuizen found Devitt and his shot was stopped well at MacGilivray’s near post.
The best chance of the half fell to Saddlers skipper Adam Chambers. Bradshaw did all the hard work, played a through ball to Chambers but somehow he fluffed his shot well wide after being one on one with Roche – if that had gone in the story would have been so different.
HALF TIME – MORECAMBE 0-0 WALSALL
The second half started very much like the first with the Saddlers seeing a lot more of the ball.
Mullins tested MacGilivray for the hosts just under the hour mark as his looping shot had him worried only to see it curl just over and land on the top of the net.
Moments later and the hosts were in front. Devitt’s twenty five yard shot curled sweetly into the top corner, clipping the post on the way in – not much MacGilivray could have done with that one.
Walsall continued to shoot from distance with Mantom and Baxendale all trying their luck with no avail. On sixty four minutes, Taylor went down the left and his teasing ball missed Bradshaw’s boot by inches – summed up Walsall’s night.
With twenty minutes left, Smith introduced his tried and tested trio of Sawyers, Forde and Cook in place of Lalkovic, Baxendale and Morris.
On seventy three minutes the tie was over. Morecambe hit Walsall on the counter attack once more and Barkhuizen raced through to calmly slot the ball past MacGilivray.
Seconds later the Saddlers lost possession and Barkhuizen raced through once more but his shot rebounded off the post and away from danger.
With ten minutes to go the Saddlers should have reduced the deficit. Bradshaw was sent through however his shot was too close to Roche and he saved it with his legs – either side and it would have been in.
Bradshaw and Cook went close for Walsall late on and Forde hit the bar but seemed the Saddlers had used all their luck up in the opening seven games.
We will just need to get to Wembley in the League Cup or in the play-offs….
We now get to see the resolve of this new squad as we aim to bounce back from defeat at the first time of asking as we face Bury on Saturday.
FULL TIME – MORECAMBE 2-0 WALSALL