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Analysis: Walsall are doing enough to survive

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

It’s often said football is a results-driven business.

But the closer you get to the end of a season, the more truthful that becomes.

Win your home games, draw your away, and you’ll be in the thick of a promotion race over the course of a campaign.

It is, of course, now too late for Walsall to harbour dreams of a push for the Championship.

But if they carry on collecting victories at the Banks’s – while also picking up points on the road – they will quickly end any lingering doubts they could be relegated this year.

Following a quick glance at the scoreline, it would be easy to assume the trip to Blackpool was two points dropped for Jon Whitney’s side.

The Saddlers led twice. The hosts also netted their equaliser in the 88th minute.

Yet it was Gary Bowyer’s men who arguably should have taken all three points – with the Tangerines seeing a staggering three chances cleared off the line.

The first arrived in the eighth minute when, following a corner, Curtis Tilt rose highest only to see his header hacked away by the perfectly-positioned Jon Guthrie.

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That moment aside, the opening half hour proved largely uneventful with both teams lacking quality in the final third.

A stadium only a quarter full added to the flat atmosphere.

But Walsall managed to get their noses in front thanks to some excellent work from Kieron Morris.

After initially intercepting a loose pass, the winger managed to trick his way to the byline.

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And, once there, he kept his composure to pick out Joe Edwards with a low cross which the midfielder emphatically swept home from 10 yards.

Adam Chambers can't watch as Blackpool equalise.

The goal had arrived against the run of the play. Nevertheless, Whitney would have been pleased with how his team had restricted Blackpool to very little.

As is often the case in League One though, a lapse in concentration saw the hosts pull level. A long ball forward saw Walsall switch off.

And that allowed Nathan Delfouneso to collect the pass before emphatically firing past Liam Roberts.

Despite Blackpool being the more adventurous of the two teams, Walsall again took the lead in the 76th minute.

A George Dobson corner really should have been cleared by the first man.

But the delivery somehow evaded everyone expect Guthrie – with the defender then making no mistake from close range.

Walsall had scored two goals from what would go on to be their only two efforts on target.

Yet Blackpool again rallied and they thought they had pulled level when substitute Armand Gnanduillet saw a looped header cleared off the line by a stretching Jack Fitzwater.

In the 88th minute though, the home side did get the goal their performance warranted.

It arrived when former Saddler Dan Agyei played in Gnanduillet with a perfectly-weighted through-ball. And the Frenchman then calmly lifted the ball over Roberts with a composed finish.

Having been the better side, Blackpool now had the momentum to grab a winner.

And they came a whisker away from getting one in stoppage time when Clark Robertson headed a free-kick towards goal only to see his effort cleared off the line by man of the match Guthrie.

That meant Walsall had done enough to grab a draw.

And that point not only takes them closer to safety, it also ensured one of their closest rivals was denied all three.

It may not have been pretty, but if Walsall can beat Doncaster at home tomorrow, results will mean they have had a successful few weeks.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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