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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
14:19 24th November 2011

Walsall 3 Exeter City 2 (AET)

Exeter City bowed out of the FA Cup this evening after suffering a disappointing extra time defeat at the hands of Walsall. City lead at half-time thanks to Richard Logan's first goal of the season before the home side turned the game on its head in five second half minutes, Jon Macken poked home from close range and Alex Nicholls smashed an effort into the top corner. The Grecians clawed their way back into the tie when Elliott Frear grabbed his first goal for the club but just eight minutes into extra time George Bowerman rounded Artur Krysiak and rolled a shot into the empty net to secure Walsall's spot in the second round. Paul Tisdale was already without Jake Taylor, Dan Nardiello, Guillem Bauza, Matt Oakley and Billy Jones and his selection headache intensified when influential captain David Noble failed a fitness test ahead of the match. Chris Shephard started in his place while Richard Logan was given the nod in place of Taylor. To say the first half was unforgettable would be something of an understatement but just five minutes in Nicholls almost scored a goal he certainly wouldn't forget. The Walsall striker cutting inside and driving a ferocious 25 yard drive towards Krysiak's goal which smashed off the Pole's crossbar. The 311 away fans were making plenty of noise as they returned to scene of that famous siege last month and they were getting behind cult hero Logan who was winning his fair share in the air while Troy and Danny Coles were coping well with the home side's attack. It took Dean Smith's side another 25 minutes to get near the City goal, Macken heading an effort straight at Krysiak. At the other end Logan continued to look lively and his optimistic 20 yard volley on 35 minutes whistled past the far post. City's number 20 was then involved in the first real moment of controversy in the match when he, along with his team-mates and the bench, felt he should have had a penalty when Ollie Lancashire appeared to have hauled him down on 32 minutes. He'd done well to get goalside of his marker and on his way to the deck he'd managed to get a low shot away which failed to trouble Jimmy Walker. Tisdale was remonstrating and the away fans were certainly up in arms. But the next time Logan was involved inside the box he was firing the Grecians infront on 42 minutes when he hooked a close range volley into the net after Coles had headed Liam Sercombe's free-kick into his path. It was the striker's first of a frustrating season to date and he ran to the bench to celebrate with Callum McNish. The final chance of the first half fell to Sercombe with an optimistic right footed spectacular that flew over the bar. The game then resorted back to type in the early minutes of the second half. It went back to being a stopstart affair with very little spark from either side. At this point City were lining up with five at the back, then Shephard ahead of Dunne and Sercombe with Logan and O'Flynn upfront as they looked to build on their one goal lead. Instead it was Walsall who were threatening, Mark Wilson shot just wide and Lee Beevers headed over the bar when well placed. The equaliser followed shortly afterwards when Andy Butler knocked a corner into the path of Macken and the former Man City man pocked home on the line for 1-1. Just seconds later though the travelling faithful believed O'Flynn had been fouled for a spot-kick but the referee waved away the City claims. Having held a 1-0 lead and been rather comfortable the Grecians found themselves 2-1 down on 69 minutes. City failed to clear their lines and a low cross was sent into the path of Nicholls who arrowed a right footed shot into the top corner with Krysiak just a mere spectator. Tisdale responded to that setback by sending on Frear for his third substitute appearance. Half chances followed for O'Flynn, who was inches away from beating Walker to Sercombe's corner, and from the resulting set-piece Troy headed wide. Frear had looked lively at Yeovil on the weekend and the City youth product had almost an immediate impact this evening. He led a counter-attack down the left-hand side before swapping passes with Dunne. And after the former Arsenal man gave him the ball back Frear got a low left foot shot away that deflected into the corner. The delighted young winger celebrated his first senior goal infront of the away support. With their tails now well and truly up City pushed for a winner and Dunne was denied by a fine stop from Walker as he looked to curl a right-footed shot into the far corner. The game had sprung into life and the match was flying from end to end with Frear firing an optimistic shot over the bar and Lancashire's fine header being kept out by a stunning stop from Artur. The last chance of the 90 fell to Frear deep into stoppage time but his lashed left-footed shot found the side netting of Walker's goal. O'Flynn headed at the former West Ham keeper and Frear did well to win a corner in the early exchanges of extra time before the home side dealt the killer blow. A through ball from midfield was perfectly placed between Artur and the City back four which allowed Bowerman to run clear and get to the ball just split seconds before the Pole. He rounded him and then had the simple task of firing the ball into the unguarded goal for 3-2. Having finished the match with a flurry City never really got going in extra time and to try to breath life into the display Tisdale replaced O'Flynn with Tom Nichols, and the average age of the young side falling even further. Dunne then teed himself up and shot wide before Logan headed wide at the far post. The second half of extra time was even more fragmented and bitty with Walsall happy to learn from the mistakes of St James Park and play out the dying minutes while City never really looked like grabbing another late late goal against Walsall. So that was that. City's below-par form in the FA Cup since 2005 goes on and many of the superb support will have been disappointed with City's failure to create anything of note during extra time. But the young side certainly missed the influence of Noble and Oakley in midfield and the pace and guile of Nardiello and Taylor upfront. Tisdale now faces the tough task of recovering his players, both physically and mentally, ahead of the Tranmere clash on Saturday afternoon.
    Data provided by Press Association