Walsall 2 Port Vale 2 - Report and pictures
Walsall fought back from a losing position twice as they picked up a point at home to Port Vale - despite the visitors bringing more than 2,300 fans.
Leon Legge put Vale ahead inside 12 minutes before Elijah Adebyao pegged them back three minutes later.
A deflected effort from Scott Burgess gave the visitors a half-time lead, but an impressive second-half showing from the Saddlers saw Josh Gordon net his 12th of the season.
The hosts dominated towards the end of the game but couldn’t make their advantage count and the teams shared the points.
Darrell Clarke made four changes to his starting XI after the 3-2 comeback win over Northampton last weekend, starting in a 4-4-2 formation.
Jack Rose replaced Liam Roberts in goal, while Rory Holden, Danny Guthrie and Wes McDonald all came into the side.
Stuart Sinclair and Nathan Sheron dropped to the bench, while Zak Jules and Cameron Norman didn’t make the squad.
Captain James Clarke made his return from injury among the substitutes - Alfie Bates also returned to the squad.
John Askey kept the same Port Vale starting XI that beat Colchester 3-0 last week, starting in a 4-3-3 formation.
It was a lively start to the game with the large travelling contingent from Vale battling with the home fans as to who could make the most noise.
The first two chances, however, fell to Walsall. They were both carbon-copies of each other - free-kicks from the right delivered in-swinging from Holden, but they were both defended well.
In the 12th minute, Vale took the lead. A short corner was played to Tom Conlon and his excellent cross found defender Legge who was unmarked and he powered a header past Rose.
Only three minutes later, however, and Walsall equalised. Holden shot from the edge of the box and his effort was spilled by Scott Brown, allowing Adebayo to follow up and finish.
Up until the 30th minute, after the frantic start, both sides had settled down and failed to create any clear chances.
Gordon had a half chance when a recycled corner fell to him in the box, but with the ball bobbling his shot cleared the bar.
Almost straight after that chance, the visitors took the lead. Burgess shot from the edge of the box and his effort took a huge deflection, wrong-footing Rose and ending up in the back of the net.
Port Vale then went into half-time leading 2-1.
Walsall came out in the second-half changing to a 4-2-3-1 formation, moving Holden behind Adebayo, and Gordon out to the right flank.
Immediately after the restart Walsall almost equalised. A cross found Gordon and with the ball slightly behind him his audacious flick almost tricked the goalkeeper.
Rose then pulled off an excellent save to deny a Burgess shot, turning it around the post.
In the 58th minute, Walsall equalised. Adebayo did brilliantly down the left flank and his low cross was just behind Vale defender Cristian Montano, allowing Gordon to take one touch and fire past Brown.
In the 65th minute, Walsall should have taken the lead. This time Gordon crossed low for Adebayo and with the goal gaping, his shot was saved by Brown. A world class stop.
With Walsall turning the screw, McDonald’s low drive trickled past the post, agonisingly close to nestling into the bottom corner.
Rose saved his team in the 88th minute with a point blank save from Dave Worrall’s shot.
After a tense ending to the game, where both sides threatened, the game finished 2-2 as the teams shared the points.
Walsall: Rose, Facey, Scarr, Sadler, Pring, Holden, Kinsella, Guthrie (Sinclair 88), McDonald, Gordon (Lavery 76), Adebayo.
Subs not used: Roberts, Clarke, Bates, Sheron, Nolan.
Port Vale: Brown, Smith, Brisley, Legge, Montano, Joyce, Burgess, Conlon (Oyeleke 66), Worrall, Cullen (Pope 73), Browne (Amoo 64).
Subs not used: Maddison, Gibbons, Taylor, Bennett.
Attendance: 6,301 (2,307 away).