Michael Ngoo scored his first goal for Walsall to earn them a deserved point at Carlisle.
The on loan Liverpool striker headed home debutant Kieron Morris’ corner with just eight minutes remaining to break the hearts of the relegation-threatened hosts.
Carlisle had gone in front early in the first half when Liam Noble’s shot went in off visiting keeper Richard O’Donnell.
Both sides hit the woodwork in an entertaining game but the Saddlers looked destined for another frustrating defeat before Ngoo struck.
Dean Smith’s side dominated the second half but had been unable to find a way past home keeper Jordan Pickford, who had brilliantly denied Andy Butler in the first period.
Ngoo came off the bench and finally brought them level, bagging his first goal since joining on loan in January. The draw means Smith’s men can no longer mathematically make the play-offs but the manager will be pleaed with ending a two-game losing run, if not a little disappointed they did not take all three points.
Smith made just one change but it was a significant one for James McQuilkin, who was handed his first Walsall start. Ngoo dropped to the bench, which also featured Ben George and Morris, the latter getting his first senior appearance as a substitute and playing a key role in the leveller.
Both sides had chances in a bright opening. Sam Mantom volleyed wide for the Saddlers after Carlisle made a hash of clearing a corner, while Brad Potts fired over at the other end.
The home defence were then forced to clear hurriedly after Pickford failed to hold Romaine Sawyers shot which came at the end of an excellent Walsall move.
Opposite number O’Donnell then did superbly to deny Noble after the midfielder and shot from inside the box. But he was left helpless moments later, when Noble curled an effort from the edge of the box which hit the post and then the unlucky Saddlers stopper on its way in.
If Pickford’s earlier handling had looked suspect, there were certainly few complaints when he somehow clawed away a Butler header destined for the bottom corner as the Saddlers looked to hit back.
Mantom also shot straight at Pickford as the Saddlers enjoyed plenty of possession. But it was the hosts almost extended the lead before the break when Potts fired against the bar from the edge of the box.
Sawyers was in the thick of the action early in the second half. First he beat Pickford to a long ball but the Saddlers were unable to force a chance as the hosts cleared his cross. The forward then drilled a shot over the bar from around 20 yards out. David Symington was also off target with a free-kick effort for the hosts.
Pickford then denied Sawyers as he got a touch to deflect the Saddlers man’s low drive wide of the far post. The visitors continued to look the stronger going forward and Brandy dragged a shot wide of the near post.
Mantom saw an effort deflected wide, while Pickford held on to a low Brandy shot after neat work on the edge of the box had created the opening for the visiting forward.
Still the Saddlers pushed, going close three times in the space of a few seconds when substitute Ngoo had a shot blocked, Mantom struck the rebound onto the post and then McQuilkin fired the second rebound narrowly over the bar.
Carlisle might have rubbed salt in the wounds almost immediately had David Amoo managed to keep his free header for a corner down.
Noble almost grabbed a second to make the game safe when he sent a drive clattering off the bar from 25 yards out.
With eight minutes to go, Ngoo made them pay when he nodded Morris’ deep corner back across goal and just inside the far post.
Reece Brown drove a shot inches wide as the hosts looked in vain to restore the lead.Subscribe to our Newsletter