Sunderland 0-1 Walsall
Sunderland exited the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening, as Walsall secured a narrow win at the Stadium of Light.
A goalless opening period in the second-round replay provided little to shout about for either side, with a moment of quality, or a mistake, likely to provide the difference.
It turned out to be the former, with Liam Kinsella’s impressive 25-yard strike crashing into the net seven minutes after the restart.
Lee Cattermole and Josh Maja both entered fray soon after, but the Saddlers held out to become only the second side to win on Wearside this season.
Jack Ross made several changes ahead of the game, as Duncan Watmore made his second start of the season and Luke O’Nien featured at right-back.
Cattermole, who last played in October, returned to the squad, but Lynden Gooch missed out.
After an understated start to proceedings, the game burst into life on 15 minutes when Kieron Morris ducked inside and arrowed a 20-yard strike inches wide.
Sunderland responded with their first opportunity, but after taking George Honeyman’s long ball in his stride, Watmore was thwarted by the recovering Saddlers defence.
Ross’ men enjoyed the bulk of the possession, but the visitors remained a threat on the break, with the pace of Morgan Ferrier and Josh Ginnelly providing plenty to think about.
And the later raced through on goal with 23 minutes played, but a fine save from Jon McLaughlin prevented the opener.
The best opportunity of the opening period fell to Josh Gordon, but with the goal at his mercy, he was somehow denied by McLaughlin.
After the break, there was nothing the stopper could do to prevent Walsall’s opener.
Kinsella was given time and space 25 yards from goal, and he made Sunderland pay, unleashing an unstoppable drive and finding the top corner.
A double change quickly followed as Cattermole and Maja were called into action, with Watmore shifting onto the left flank to accommodate the top scorer’s arrival.
With 62 minutes played, Maguire stole possession in the final third and Maja’s run created space for Watmore, but the forward’s on-target effort was flicked away from goal.
Maguire almost levelled right at the death, but he was unable to direct Bryan Oviedo’s free-kick on target, and the Saddlers marched into the third round.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Baldwin, Flanagan, O’Nien, Oviedo, McGeouch (Cattermole 58), Honeyman, Power, Maguire, Watmore (Mumba 78), Sinclair (Maja 58).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Loovens, Ozturk, James.