League Two’s form side Walsall will endeavour to pull off an FA Cup giant killing when Leicester City make the journey to Banks’s Stadium for the fourth round on Saturday lunchtime.
Michael Flynn’s men defeated Stockport County to progress to round four, while the Foxes ran out 1-0 winners over Gillingham in their previous encounter.
Keeping faith with Flynn throughout their autumnal struggles has paid dividends for Walsall, who welcome Leicester to Bank‘s Stadium amid a hot streak of form in league and cup action – a run that includes a slice of revenge over Stockport.
Less than two weeks after losing 2-0 to the Hatters in league action – their only defeat from their last 13 matches in all competitions – Walsall avenged that disappointment by beating their fellow fourth-tier side 2-1 in the FA Cup third round courtesy of goals from Danny Johnson and Andy Williams either side of Paddy Madden’s response.
Williams’s strike came in the fifth minute of second-half injury time, and the Saddlers are now potentially only 90 minutes away from reaching the fifth round for the first time since 2002-03 – where they were defeated by Fulham – but a fourth-round finish is already their best showing since the 2015-16 campaign.
The hosts’ last 13 games have brought nine wins, three draws and just that one defeat to Stockport, seeing them enjoy a sudden rise to 11th in the League Two table, but they could only draw 1-1 with Tranmere Rovers two weekends ago before last weekend’s clash with AFC Wimbledon fell victim to the freezing temperatures.
As eye-catching as Walsall’s run has been, Flynn’s side can only boast one clean sheet from their last eight matches in all competitions, and they have conceded at least one goal in each of their last four outings at Banks’s Stadium.
Kelechi Iheanacho may very well have kept Brendan Rodgers in his job with the solitary goal in Leicester’s FA Cup third-round match with Gillingham, with the Foxes entering the contest on the back of three straight losses in the Premier League.
Defeat to Neil Harris’s crisis club would have been unthinkable for Leicester, but Iheanacho’s 56th-minute strike was all it took to send the 2020-21 champions through to round four, as they enjoy a welcome break from their miserable Premier League fortunes.
The World Cup break came at the most inopportune moment for a Foxes side who were building momentum before Qatar, but Rodgers’s charges were on the verge of taking three points off of European-chasing Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend before Evan Ferguson rescued a point for the Seagulls in a 2-2 draw.
Now 14th in the table but with just one point separating them from the drop zone, Rodgers’s side are aiming to record a ninth win from their last 10 FA Cup ties against League Two teams, but their only loss in that sequence came against now-Walsall coach Flynn, who masterminded Newport County’s memorable victory in 2018-19.
Walsall overcame Leicester 1-0 in the fourth round of the 1977-78 FA Cup, but the Saddlers have since posted five losses and one draw from their last six meetings with the Foxes – including a 4-1 League One defeat in the 2008-09 campaign.