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Walsall's FA Cup run has brought added promotion motivation says Owen Evans

Goalkeeper Owen Evans claims the experience of Saturday’s fourth round FA Cup tie with Leicester has given Walsall added motivation to go and win promotion this season.

Owen Evans in action for Walsall
Owen Evans in action for Walsall

The League Two Saddlers were beaten 1-0 by the Premier League Foxes but could take huge credit from a battling performance in front of their biggest home crowd since 2015.

Michael Flynn’s men are quickly back in action tomorrow night when they resume their league campaign at Salford City, sitting five points adrift of the play-off places with three matches in hand.

“We have a hectic schedule coming up but we are ready for it,” said Evans. “We have a good squad coming together now, especially with additions in January.

“We have competition for places and they will be needed. We are looking forward to stepping up to the challenge.

“Good or bad result on Saturday, we knew we had to turn attentions back to the league on Tuesday.

“We haven’t played in the league for a couple of weeks due to postponements, so we’re looking forward to getting back to that.

“We are pretty much playing Saturday-Tuesday now for a couple of months but we’re ready for it. We want to continue our momentum.”

Evans, signed last summer from Cheltenham Town, was the Saddlers’ star performer as he kept the Foxes at bay with a series of second-half saves before eventually being beaten by Kelechi Iheanacho’s heavily deflected 68th-minute effort.

Youri Tielemans had earlier hit the post from the penalty spot, though Evans did guess the right way and might well have saved the effort, had it been on target.

“I was confident. I am with every penalty,” said the keeper. “I work with (goalkeeping coach) Dan Watson in the week and we always do our due diligence, watching all the clips we can. He has been fantastic all season in the analysis.

“I was confident I was going to go the right way and hopeful I might get a finger on it. But I’ll take the post! You hope to get a touch on it but thankfully the post helped me out.

“We could sense they were getting a little bit frustrated. We tried to nullify their attack and get them frustrated and try to nick a goal.

“I don’t count them number of saves I make. I was making sure we went to the end and gave a good performance. It was always going to be a busy day.

“In the end it was a tidy strike from them, with a bit of a deflection. That is the bit of luck you need.”

The Saddlers had already beaten League One Wycombe, along with League Two rivals Carlisle and Stockport in order to reach the fourth round of the competition for the first time in seven years.

Evans added: “The manager’s message was to just enjoy it, enjoy the occasion. We know what we can do.

“This is the furthest I have gone in the competition playing as a No.1. I’ve had a few good spells at Wigan but I wasn’t playing. I have really enjoyed the experience.

“We had done our due diligence on Leicester so it was about going out there and executing the gameplan. I think we gave a really good account of ourselves. Hopefully we can carry the momentum and follow it up in the league.”

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