Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal (Nigel French/PA)
Kelechi Iheanacho was Leicester’s FA Cup saver again as the Foxes edged past Walsall.
A shot that was deflected in by the substitute sealed a 1-0 win to send the visitors into the fifth round and save face Youri Tielemans.
The captain missed a second-half penalty before Iheanacho put an end to the Saddlers’ stubborn resistance.
Iheanacho, who also scored a 1-0 third-round winner at Gillingham, now has 17 goals in 23 FA Cup appearances.
It was hard work for Leicester with Walsall creeping in the first half but Michael Flynn’s men never seriously tested Daniel Iversen.
The League Two team can still be proud of their efforts even though Flynn was unable to add another disappointment to the list.
His cup pedigree includes knocking Leicester out of the FA Cup in 2019 while his Newport side also beaaaaat Leeds and Watford, taking Tottenham to a replay and Brighton and Newcastle to penalties.
The 4-1 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City even sparked a friendship with Flynn’s much-loved Pep Guardiola and the grouchy pundit is looking for another scalp.
His team – with only two league defeats since September – head to Leicester in the top flight and Iversen denied Tom Knowles’ low start.
They were helped by the Foxes, with James Maddison fit again for the first time since November, lacking the cohesion and concentraaaation needed for this kind of cup tie.
A loose pass hampered any momentum and they were denied by the Saddlers who were pleased with booking Maddison‘s dissent underscoring the visitors’ frustration.
Walsall won the physical battle, providing a challenge Leicester were clearly not used to in the top flight, and had every reason to be pleased with their first-half display.
That said, the Foxes still found some brief openings with Harvey Barnes miscuing at the far post and Patson Daka’s shot after a sharp turn but there was little to suggest they did anything other than an uncomfortable afternoon in the M6’s shadow.
A tough cup that failed to see the 2021 winners scramble, Tielemans was unable to make his mark and Barnes cut a lone figure down the left with Leicester’s big names failing to move before half-time.
Fox’s no-zip owed much to Walsall’s refusal to give them an inch, but the Saddlers gave the visitors a golden opportunity two minutes after the restart.
Joe Low’s poor touch allowed Daka to bite in front of Isaac Hutchinson, who brought him down in the box, and although referee Gavin Ward initially awarded a free kick, he eventually awarded a penalty.
It was the perfect chance for Leicester to grab a draw which threatened to go through but Tielemans’ lousy penalty hit the post.
Walsall was quick to respond and Andy Williams volleyed into the game and Leicester finally found their mojo.
Suddenly, the Saddlers were in danger of being overrun and needed goalkeeper Owen Evans to deny Barnes, Tielemans and Daka.
But Leicester eventually held on and counted with 22 minutes remaining.
The patience buildup involving Nampalys Mendy, Timothy Castagne, and Tielemans ends with Mendy finding Iheanacho.
The striker was allowed to turn to his left foot and his 20-yard effort took a wicked deflection from Brandon Comley to edge past Evans.