Express & Star

Walsall eye rewards of an upset victory in Carabao Cup

The prospect of a mouth-watering Carabao Cup tie looms large for Walsall as they aim to reach the third round for the first time since 2015/16.


Seven seasons ago, the Saddlers hosted Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at a packed-out Bescot Stadium.

The Blues predictably ran out 4-1 winners, but the occasion is still remembered fondly and fans would certainly welcome a similar outing to look forward to.

Standing in Walsall’s way of a spot in the third-round draw are Charlton Athletic, who have made a solid start up in League One.

The Addicks are the favourites to progress, but the Saddlers will be keen to get one over on the London outfit – and not only because of the potential reward.

Charlton are now managed by Ben Garner, who proved to be a thorn in Walsall’s side last term.

His former side, Swindon enjoyed a couple of comfortable victories over the Saddlers in League Two while also knocking them out of the FA Cup – landing a home tie with Manchester City just to rub salt into the wounds.

Getting past Garner’s men this time around would be another clear sign of the progress made since Michael Flynn’s appointment in February.

Exactly what team Flynn will put out for this encounter is difficult to predict.

After gruelling away trips to both Barrow and Gillingham, though, it is fair to expect some changes. Liam Bennett, Isaac Hutchinson and Timmy Abraham – who all came on as substitutes at the weekend – could come into the XI.

Douglas James-Taylor and Flynn Clarke may also fancy their chances of getting a start as Walsall’s busy schedule carries on.

Charlton could field a few former Saddlers in Eoghan O’Connell, George Dobson and Craig MacGillivray.

Predicted Walsall XI (4-3-1-2): Evans; White, Daniels, Monthe, Bennett; Earing, F Clarke, Hutchinson; Maher; Abraham, James-Taylor.

Subs: Przybek (gk), P Clarke, Kinsella, Comley, Knowles, Johnson, Williams.