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Darrell Clarke: I take responsibility for Walsall failings

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Walsall manager Darrell Clarke says he takes full responsibility for tactical errors after his side surrendered a lead in the last minute at home to Darlington in the first round of the FA Cup.

Darrell Clarke

The Saddlers fell 1-0 behind in the first half from an Omar Holness strike, before making two substitutions and changing to a 4-4-2 formation after just 20 minutes.

The tactical switch seemed to take effect as two late goals, one from Caolan Lavery and an own-goal from goalkeeper Liam Connell, put Walsall in front.

But in the final minute of six minutes of added time, Josef Wheatley struck to earn the North East side a replay.

And Clarke admitted he got it wrong with his starting XI.

“I have to take full responsibility," he said.

“I started with the wrong shape, the wrong team and I was quick to rectify that decision.

“Making the changes early, being a goal down made it easier for me to make that decision.

“I saw that we weren’t working so changed to a 4-4-2 with a lot more attacking threat.

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“The game was a lot more open and then we found some way to chuck away a game that we should win."

Fans, the management and fellow players were left frustrated after the game as Walsall's strikers spurned several chances to score.

Rory Gaffney and Elijah Adebayo were both handed golden opportunities to get on the scoresheet but struggled to take their chances.

“It was a typical FA Cup tie, you have to give Darlington credit," Clarke added.

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“I’m not going to stand here and say they didn’t deserve a replay, they’ve had a few chances themselves.

“We believe we’ve had a lot more golden chances and haven’t taken them.

“The lads at the minute are finding a way not to win football matches.

“There’s a bit of softness about it, mentality wise, which frustrates me.

“Sometimes individual players need to do some soul-searching and dig deep for themselves, otherwise their career will fall by the wayside.

“I’m hurting, struggling, but we’ll reboot again."

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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