Sheppey United 1-4 Walsall: Saddlers come from behind to reach FA Cup second round

League Two side Walsall recovered from a goal behind to reach the FA Cup second round with a confident victory at non-league opponents Sheppey United.

James Bessey-Saldanha's spectacular strike from distance gave the hosts, who play four tiers below the Saddlers in the Isthmian League South East, hope of an upset with their only attempt of the first half.

Douglas James-Taylor levelled with a clever run and neat finish as Walsall's dominance paid off on a night when they reached the second round for the fifth time in six seasons.

In-form Sheppey striker Danny Bradshaw - their hero of the previous round, when they beat Billericay on penalties after a replay - went off injured during the first half, but his side forced the first chance after the interval when replacement Alex Willis poked a shot wide when well placed.

Tom Knowles capitalised by curling in ruthlessly from distance to give Walsall the lead for the first time before on-loan Motherwell midfielder Ross Tierney provided them with a two-goal cushion courtesy of a first-time finish from inside the penalty area.

Isaac Hutchinson clipped in with the goal gaping after a scramble to embellish the scoreline with three minutes of normal time remaining.

Sheppey goalkeeper Aiden Prall, who made numerous impressive saves, looked to have been challenged unfairly for Hutchinson's goal but Walsall were well worthy of their win, producing 39 of the 42 efforts at goal.

Mat Sadler's players will discover their opponents in the next round when the draw is made on Sunday.

Sheppey manager Ernie Batten told BBC Radio Kent:

"I'm very proud - we acquitted ourselves very well. It's always difficult against a full-time professional team because the fitness levels are much higher. They move the ball quickly, move you around, and we were working extremely hard to keep them at bay. We had to take a lot of pressure towards the end of the game.

"In the first half we matched them over the park. James has been hitting the cows at the back of the field for most of the season this year. He's struggled to find the target but wow - he made up for it with that one. It was a great goal. I thought, 'That could go in.' It hit the back of the net and gave us a great platform for the first half.

"They were always going to have a lot of the ball. We kept our shape and made sure we nullified them as much as possible. We were very good when the ball came into our box. Our two centre-halves, in particular, were very good, and it limited their number of clear chances. Aiden [Prall] showed how good he is tonight. The reaction of the fans was as if we'd won the game. They came in numbers and it's been fantastic."

Walsall head coach Mat Sadler told BBC Radio WM:

"The team did exactly what we asked them to - and got the shock of their lives as well. It would have been easy for that to have been a catalyst for something that it never, ever needed to be. We've got a great group who take stuff on and are desperate to do well. The quality and athleticism proved the difference.

"I was really pleased with everything they did. They were extremely professional. I don't like playing on [artificial pitches] because there's always a worry around injuries. It's funny that in the EFL we're not allowed to play on it and then you get a game in this competition.

"In one of their games I watched in the build-up, two of their players came off with knee injuries in the first 10 minutes, so you're panicking about that before the game.

"We had to weather them going 1-0 up. Their keeper did really well and had a fantastic game - fair play to him. On another night, probably a few more of [our efforts] go in. In the end, we were clinical and we made it the night it needed to be and should be, in terms of the gap between the teams. We look forward to who we get in the next round."