Saddlers come from behind to reach FA Cup second round

Walsall football player Thomas Andrew Knowles celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Emirates FA Cup

Tom Knowles gave Walsall the lead for the first time as they recovered to win 4-1 at Sheppey and reach the FA Cup second round

League Two side Walsall recovered from a goal behind to reach the FA Cup second round with a confident victory at non-league opponents Sheppey United.

James Bessey-Saldanha’s spectacular strike from distance gave the hosts, who play four tiers below the Saddlers in the Isthmian League South East, hope of an upset with their only attempt of the first half.

Douglas James-Taylor levelled with a clever run and neat finish as Walsall’s dominance paid off on a night when they reached the second round for the fifth time in six seasons.

In-form Sheppey striker Danny Bradshaw – their hero of the previous round, when they beat Billericay on penalties after a replay – went off injured during the first half, but his side forced the first chance after the interval when replacement Alex Willis poked a shot wide when well placed.

Tom Knowles capitalised by curling in ruthlessly from distance to give Walsall the lead for the first time before on-loan Motherwell midfielder Ross Tierney provided them with a two-goal cushion courtesy of a first-time finish from inside the penalty area.

Isaac Hutchinson clipped in with the goal gaping after a scramble to embellish the scoreline with three minutes of normal time remaining.

Sheppey goalkeeper Aiden Prall, who made numerous impressive saves, looked to have been challenged unfairly for Hutchinson’s goal but Walsall were well worthy of their win, producing 38 of the 41 efforts at goal.

Mat Sadler’s players will discover their opponents in the next round when the draw is made on Sunday.

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