Walsall ended eighth-tier Sheppey United’s FA Cup run with a ruthless 4-1 First-Round victory.
The Ites took a shock lead midway through the first half when James Bessey-Saldanha scored a fine opener, but Walsall were always on top.
The League Two side equalised through Douglas James-Taylor to go in level at the break and put the tie to bed with an assured second-half performance.
Tom Knowles, Ross Tierney and Isaac Hutchinson were all on target after the break, ensuring Wall’s position in Sunday’s draw for the Second Round.
Sheppey started like a team fired up on an historic evening, with a boisterous crowd of 1,450 cheering them on.
Walsall took a few minutes to settle but were well on top after a flurry of early chances.
James-Taylor’s first shot of the evening was well blocked by Connor Wilkins and he was again thwarted from close range shortly after Tierney had driven wide.
But after Aiden Prall was forced into his first save of the evening to deny Liam Gordon, the hosts stuck on the counter to devastating effect.
Bessey-Saldanha drifted infield from the left wing and curled a delightful effort into the top corner to send the home crowd into raptures.
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Walsall overcame the initial shock and peppered Prall’s goal, with James-Taylor again denied a certain equaliser by a goalline block from Wilkins before Hutchinson powered an effort wide.
The leveller arrived just a few minutes later though, as James-Taylor netted his first goal since January after capitalising on a loose pass from Josh Wisson.
There was no let up from the Saddlers and they very nearly claimed the lead before the break.
Only a couple of fine saves from Prall denied them, first from Hutchinson and then from Ryan Stirk.
Sheppey then missed a golden opportunity to put themselves ahead when Wilkins slashed at an effort from a corner after goalkeeper Owen Evans was caught in no-man’s-land.
That miss proved costly almost instantly, as Knowles, formerly of the eighth tier with Cambridge City, curled into the bottom corner.
Victory was all-but assured on 63 minutes, as Tierney swept home with aplomb after a daring forward run from centre-back and Donervon Daniels.
Sheppey were unable to turn the tide and could have gone further behind were it not for more heroics from Prall.
A fourth Walsall goal finally arrived with just two minutes left on the clock, as Hutchinson stabbed home after a melee in the Sheppey six-yard box.
League One Barnsley found the going much tougher against lower-ranked opponents, as they were held by Horsham to a 3-3 draw at Oakwell.
Saturday’s action commences with Northampton Town against Barrow and the First Round concludes with Cray Valley Paper Mill’s trip to Charlton Athletic.