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Sat Dec 21
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Hampton & Richmond Boro' (A)
Sat Dec 21 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
2nd
37pts

Rebels shock Walsall in FA Cup

| FA Cup
Att: 2059
Slough Town
Hodges (24), Harris (73)
2 - 1
Walsall
Wrack (32)
James Saulsbury
Ryman Premier League Slough Town caused the shock of the FA Cup First Round, dumping Paul Merson's Walsall out thanks to a second-half winner from Glen Harris.

And the unlikely victory against the League One side was overall a deserved result against a side who were playing Championship football just six months prior.

Eddie Denton's men looked nervous early on with the Saddlers in control. Merson himself was running the game from midfield. It was the Walsall player-manager who had the first chance of the match. Merson received the ball on the edge of the area. His curling shot looked to be set for the top corner of the net, but Rebels goalkeeper Shaun Allaway, making his debut, tipped the ball over the bar.

After seeing off early Walsall pressure Slough took the lead on 24 minutes. Ian Hodges bundled the ball into the back of the net from close range past New Zealand international goalkeeper Mark Paston after a cross from Ryan Spencer.

Walsall were back level just eight minutes later. Darren Wrack was on hand to head home from close range after Allaway saved Jorge Leitao's fierce drive.

Early in the second-half Walsall dominated possession with Slough giving the ball away far too easily – but the Saddlers failed to create many clear-cut chances.

Slough gradually began to look more dangerous and they took the lead when a cross from Alex Haddow fell to Glen Harris. His shot was blocked on the line, but he was on-hand to score from the rebound, sparking jubilant scenes around the ground.

As Walsall pushed forward with increasing desperation in search of an equaliser, Slough were a threat on the break, and had a chance to grab a third goal when a Walsall corner saw the ball fall to Harris. He ran at the Sadlers defence, but shot over the bar from the edge of the area.

Another chance again fell to Slough when substitute Seedel, who had replaced Ryan Spencer, went on a mazy run only to see his low shot saved.

Walsall's best chance fell to former Wolves centre-back Neil Emblen. The defender’s header hit the top of the bar with the ball rebounding to safety.

The away side threw men forward in hope of a goal, but the Rebels defence, superbly marshalled by skipper Steve Daly, Michael Murphy and man-of-the-match James Saulsbury kept Walsall at bay.

In the final few minutes, Walsall’s frustration was evident as substitute Julian Bennett was sent-off after not retreating following a free-kick.

With three minutes of nail-biting injury time, the Rebels held on to claim a famous victory, with wild celebrations following at Stag Meadow.

After the match, Rebels manager Eddie Denton said:

“People did not really give us any chance before the game, but I believed we could win, as did the players. I've said all week we’re a decent side and when we play our football we can cause any team problems. We gave them too much respect in the first-half, worrying about what they could do to us, but when we did play our football we got our rewards.

“I told the lads at half time to keep possession - and the game is there for us. We had two or three chances near the end and could have really wrapped the game up.

“I'm hoping for another home draw, only four defeats in eighteen months. We don't fear anybody here”.

Goalscorer Ian Hodges commented: “the lads we have got here work hard for each other - we knew they were going to have a lot of possession, but we coped with that and we held on and were unlucky not to get a couple more towards the end”.

Walsall Line up

Mark Paston, Mark Wright (Daryl Taylor 71), Neil Emblen, Julian Bennett, Zigor Aranalde, Simon Osborn, Michael Standing, Darren Wrack, Paul Merson, Jorge Leitao, Matty Fryatt (Leroy Williams 90). Subs Not Used: Ian Roper, Mark Kinsella, Dean Coleman.

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