Express & Star

FA Cup: Alfreton v Walsall - Southampton carrot is dangled as Saddlers try again

Weather permitting, Alfreton Town and Walsall will face off in the FA Cup second round tonight after Saturday’s controversial postponement.

Head coach Mat Sadler after hearing that the match had been called off

And the reward for progression is a trip to Championship high-fliers Southampton in round three, which could be incentive enough for Mat Sadler to go strong with his team selection again.

Walsall’s team had some eye-catching inclusions and omissions, most notably Danny Johnson who was not in the matchday squad.

Sadler revealed that Johnson’s absence was due to a shoulder injury he picked up in the Barrow game, although he remains hopeful that he will only be a short-term miss.

He was replaced by Ross Tierney, while Jackson Smith would have taken Owen Evans’ place in goal after the Welshman sustained a calf injury against Barrow, and Oisin McEntee came into the side in place of Brandon Comley.

The match was scheduled to be broadcast on BBC One, with former Alfreton player-manager Chris Wilder, Walsall legend Jimmy Walker and Stephen Warnock, an FA Cup winner with Liverpool, all part of the punditry team.

And with kick-off fast approaching, and the stands at the Impact Arena close to full, referee Sam Allison made the decision to call the game off less than 10 minutes before kick-off.

“It was too hard in too many areas of the pitch, it seemed like an ice rink in some areas,” Allison said. “Player safety has to be the priority – it was too dangerous and too unsafe.” The result is a rearranged fixture this evening, leaving Saddlers with less time to prepare for Saturday’s trip to Notts County in League Two.

And it leaves Sadler with a decision to make on whether or not he risks players such as Freddie Draper, Tom Knowles and Liam Gordon, given the imminent fixture pile-up.

Sadler also revealed to the BBC that the team’s Christmas do would have to be rearranged as a result of the postponement, as well as acknowledging the financial implications on the Saddlers fans that travelled to Derbyshire in good numbers.