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Bescot Banter: Who are the real Walsall?

Last weekend's two-all draw between the Saddlers and Barrow gave us yet more examples of the best and worst of the current crop.

SPORT COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 02/10/21 .EXETER CITY V WALSALL.Walsall manager Matt Taylor..
SPORT COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 02/10/21 .EXETER CITY V WALSALL.Walsall manager Matt Taylor..

Heading into the match on the back of a five game unbeaten run, which included a dominant midweek triumph over Oldham Athletic, Matthew Taylor's side started the game well and should have been out of sight by the time the referee called for half-time refreshments.

However, despite on-loan Barnsley man George Miller twice putting the Saddlers into the lead, they had to settle for a point as the Bluebirds left it late to take an undeserved share of the spoils.

Walsall's first goal arrived with just four minutes on the clock as Miller took his tally to six for the season, continuing his fine spell in WS1, and unfortunately adding to the likelihood of a return to the Tykes in January.

Thanks to an in-form Paul Farman, and some less than accurate finishing, Barrow thwarted the Saddlers' search for a second and went on to put the game back on level terms ten minutes before the break as George Williams opened his account for the season, putting the ball beyond Carl Rushworth.

Despite a leveller often being the catalyst for collapse, the Saddlers remained determined and were able to re-take the lead in the second forty-five as George Miller grabbed his seventh of the season, and looked to have put his side on course for a welcome win.

Unfortunately, in rather predictable fashion, the Reds were forced to settle for just a point as former Saddler Josh Gordon took advantage of some sloppy defending to rattle the ball home from close range, breaking the hearts of his former employers in the process.

If this result had arrived a few weeks ago, then fans would have more than likely have seen it as a successful one. With the team recently struggling to get points on the board, and looking likely to be spending another campaign near the foot of the table, a point against an often strong former National League side may well have been applauded.

However, following an undefeated run which had seen the team put the threat of relegation on the back burner and begin to consider a future in the relative safety of mid-table, a late point came as a massive blow, especially arriving via a former Saddler so deep into stoppage time.

Be it a lapse in concentration, fatigue, or a combination of the two, the point-securing goal came far too easily for the visitors, as our backline crumbled under Barrow's late, determined search for a point.

The fact that the Saddlers had more than enough chances to seal the win before the half-time Powerade began to flow only serves as another bitter pill to swallow as games like that don't come along too often, especially given our team's penchant for snatching defeat, or at least a raw, from the jaws of victory.

Following a week to lick their wounds, the Saddlers once again come up against former National League opposition this weekend, in the form of Sutton United, and we can only hope that they have learned their lessons and can begin to make more of their goal-scoring opportunities.

Whatever this weekend's result, the team has more than proved itself capable of competing with some of the teams currently enjoying life higher up the table, and, if they are able to build upon their recent success, could well make something of the season. However, only time will tell.

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