Athletico made their debut in the FA Cup and held Walsall Wood to a credible draw,
despite being down to 10 men for the second half, after Liam Smith was harshly judged
to have stopped a goal scoring opportunity.
Walsall clearly showed their higher league status in the first half, controlling
most of the possession, forcing Sam Arnold early in the game to push the ball onto
the post from Joe Butlin free kick. Sean Williams responded for Hinckley by running
through the Wood midfield and his long range shot was also tipped onto the bar by
Mariusz Kisiel in the Walsall goal. Wood continued their pressing and should have
taken the lead with a neat move that cut the Hinckley defence, but Harry Harris lacked
composure in front of goal and shanked the ball wide when well placed. Coming up to
half time Butlin was presented with a gift to open the scoring when the ref judged
that Liam Smith had bundled him over in the area awarding a penalty, but not only
that, he also deemed Smith to have stopped a 'clear goal scoring opportunity' and
showed the AFC left back a straight red card. Sam Arnold then chose the correct way
and dived low to his right saving Butlin's spot kick,keeping the scores level at half time.
The second half was a different story, Hinckley galvanised by the red card and penalty
save were much the better team throughout the half. AFC had most of the possession and
created most of the chances, however the Wood defence was resolute and composed. Despite
their man and league advantage Wood seemed content to play for a replay soaking up most
of the AFC pressure, with a few robust tackles aiding their cause. It very nearly back fired
for Wood with minutes remaining as Marco Adaggio did well to work his way through the
defence and when one on one with Kisiel, just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was
denied with a perfectly timed covering tackle from Luke Wright, and the final score remained 0-0.
A very credible performance from Athletico in their first ever FA Cup game, matching their
higher league opponents even with only 10 men,and will go again in the replay on Tuesday
night looking forward to a trip to Bromsgrove awaiting the winner of the tie.
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Walsall Wood match details