By Ge­orge, Sad­dlers aim­ing to keep Evans

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND - By Michael Beard­more

MANCH­ESTER City loa­nee Ge­orge Evans made it three goals in four games to put League One lead­ers Wal­sall through – and leave boss Dean Smith eye­ing up an ex­ten­sion for the mid­fielder.

The 20-year-old, on a month-long loan, drilled Wal­sall in front from 25 yards and showed his de­fen­sive at­tributes with a goal-line clear­ance be­fore An­thony Forde’s late strike clinched the hosts’ progress.

And Smith ad­mit­ted: “You can see tech­ni­cally that Ge­orge is very good and his un­der­stand­ing of the game is good too, that’s why we’ve brought him here.

“I thought Ge­orge’s goal was prob­a­bly the only bit of qual­ity in the game in the fi­nal third. He made a good run, dropped off their back four and fin­ished it re­ally well.

“I’m sure Ge­orge will be open to stay­ing. Three goals in four from an at­tack­ing mid­field po­si­tion is re­ally good and he’s re­ally en­joy­ing his foot­ball.”

Wal­sall might be top of League One but the Cup is just as im­por­tant to Smith as the Sad­dlers have not reached round three in his five years in charge, in­deed not since 2008.

He added: “We’ve had some poor per­for­mances in the FA Cup in my time and this was only ok – but it’s a good habit, win­ning when you’re ok.

“The per­for­mance was av­er­age but we scored two re­ally good goals.

“We had a cou­ple of en­forced changes at half­time and that dis­rupted us. Cer­tainly for the last 20 min­utes they were the main ag­gres­sors, and we had to de­fend man­fully.”

Evans broke the dead­lock on 19 min­utes, find­ing the bot­tom cor­ner from 25 yards af­ter a pa­tient spell of pos­ses­sion foot­ball from Wal­sall.

Either side of the goal, Fleetwood’s Jamie Proc­tor looked set for tap-ins but was de­nied both times by goal-sav­ing in­ter­ven­tions from Paul Down­ing.

Wal­sall eased off the gas af­ter the break and the vis­i­tors – strug­gling to­wards the foot of League One – should have earned a re­play.

But Jamille Matt and De­clan McManus both shot wide, Nathan Pond headed a golden chance over and an An­to­nio Sarce­vic ef­fort was cleared off the line by Evans.

And the Cod Army had their chips in stop­page time when An­thony Forde cut in from the left to fire home and seal Wal­sall’s pas­sage.

It left Fleetwood boss Steven Press­ley be­moan­ing the dif­fer­ence in fin­ish­ing, say­ing: “They pun­ished us and that’s what we must do to teams.

“Apart from the two goals and pos­si­bly one break­away where we were caught in pos­ses­sion, I don’t think Wal­sall re­ally cre­ated any chances and that’s the frus­tra­tion.

“The con­cen­tra­tion and qual­ity has to im­prove on those fi­nal de­ci­sions. If we can get that, I think we’re go­ing to be a very good team.”

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