Wolves 2 Walsall 2 (Wolves win 4-2 on penalties) - match report
David Davis fired home the winning penalty as Wolves beat Walsall in 4-2 in a shoot-out after a thrilling Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash.
But two-time Saddlers loanee Aaron McCarey was the real hero, saving from Craig Westcarr and Andy Taylor to help Wolves through after a thrilling derby.
Liam McAlinden had earlier given Wolves the perfect start when he put them ahead after just five minutes.
But the Saddlers levelled through former Wolves man Ashley Hemmings and though Bakary Sako put the hosts back in front, substitute Troy Hewitt smashed home a leveller with five minutes remaining to take the tie to penalties.
Wolves had much the better of it in the first half after McAlinden's early strike as the visitors struggled to make an impression.
But Hemmings goal just after the break brought the Saddlers right back into it and from then on there was little to choose between the sides.
Wolves made six changes, McCarey starting in goal with Carl Ikeme dropping to the bench.
George Elokobi, Jack Price, Sako, Bjorn Sigurdarson and McAlinden all started. Richard Stearman was on the bench, while Zeli Ismail and Kevin Doyle were not included in the 16 along with Sam Ricketts and Leigh Griffiths – the latter two absent due to international call-ups.
Dean Smith made three changes to the Walsall side which lost 3-0 at home to Preston on Saturday. Nicky Featherstone, Romaine Sawyers and Andy Taylor all returned, in place of Mal Benning, Sam Mantom and Craig Westcarr.
Sako had the first attempt on goal, shooting well over the bar after collecting a cross from Sigurdarson on the edge of the box.
But it didn't take for the hosts to go in front. Kevin McDonald started things by playing in Price on the right of the box, who crossed low and first time for McAlinden to turn past Saddlers keeper O'Donnell from six yards out.
McAlinden was causing plenty of trouble for the visiting defence and O'Donnell had to be alert to clear when the striker nearly intercepted an under-cooked return header from Featherstone.
Price fired over from distance for the hosts, who were bossing the game and content to press when the Saddlers had the ball.
McDonald was pulling the strings in midfield and Wolves went close to increasing the lead when he found McAlinden with a clever cross, the striker brilliantly denied by O'Donnell on the half volley.
Walsall's openings were few and far between but a couple of stray passes from the hosts allowed Taylor to feed Sawyers on the edge of the box and he fired in a goal-bound shot which was blocked by Elokobi.
McAlinden hit the side netting after being played in by another Price through ball and was also well off target with another effort from distance.
The visitors frustrations were best summed up when Milan Lalkovic was booked for a reckless challenge on David Davis, having failed to get a foul.
That said, the Slovakian was presented with a golden chance in first half stoppage time when Price played a pass straight to Hemmings but the winger could not play in his Walsall team-mate. Lalkovic was subsequently substituted at half-time for Craig Westcarr.
Wolves almost made an identical start to the second as they had the first as McDonald again played in Doherty but this time Paul Downing prevented McAlinden turning it home.
It proved a crucial moment as the Saddlers drew level within nine minutes of the restart. The visitors broke and Sawyers fed Westcarr, whose cross was headed home by a diving Hemmings six yards out.
Things could have got even better soon after but Baxendale was off target with an unmarked header at the far post from a Hemmings cross.
And minutes later it was the hosts who went back in front. Wolves forced a series of corners and when Sako delivered the fourth, Batth went down under a challenge from Chambers and referee David Deadman pointed to the spot. O'Donnell dived to his right to save Sako's low spot-kick but the ball bounced right back to the Frenchman, who fired home the rebound.
Walsall looked for a way back and both Sawyers and Taylor had efforts deflected over.
Sako then went close with an effort from full on 40 yards which went just wide, before forcing O'Donnell into another smart stop with another vicious shot from distance.
The Saddlers were appealing in vain for a spot-kick when Hewitt fired in a shot which appeared to be blocked by a hand.
But five minutes from time he was celebrating as he volleyed home a wayward Doherty header to bring the Saddlers level once more.
Westcarr could have won it in stoppage time but sliced his chance over and then missed the first penalty when his kick was saved by McCarey.
The keeper then kept out Taylor's effort and while Sam Mantom and Paul Downing did find the target for the Saddlers, Sigurdarson, Sako, Dohrty and finally Davis all fired home for the hosts to see them through.
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