By George, Saddlers aiming to keep Evans
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.”