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Analysis: Late show needs to be used as Walsall turning point

In football you sometimes don’t get what you deserve – but in this one Walsall got something that they really didn’t deserve.

Donervon Daniels and Paddy Madden.
Donervon Daniels and Paddy Madden.

In Michael Flynn’s honest post-match words he admitted it was painful to watch, something that will have struck a chord with the 1,250 travelling Saddlers army, who on numerous occasions in the second period made their feelings known.

Throughout the afternoon at Edgeley Park it was evident that the visitors had scored just 10 goals all season.

And for their watertight back line - they have lacked a cutting edge at the other end, no more so than in this one.

The lack of attacking prowess and cutting edge was startling, from the first minute until the 89th when Andy Williams popped up with a late equaliser.

But, when you look back on results over the season, it will say that Walsall picked up a valuable point on the road. It won’t explain how awful it was to watch at times.

The Saddlers needed something going into the game, a lift, anything, to get them back on a run and picking up results, something that fans and players alike know is possible from the first few games of the season.

But, from early on, it just didn’t look likely.

County, who sat two places below their visitors going into the afternoon were the better, slicker side. And they made Walsall’s usually tight backline look shaky.

The main creator on the afternoon was Ollie Crankshaw, who on numerous occasions caused problems down the left for Walsall.

After Ryan Johnson headed over from an early corner, when he really should have done better, Cranshaw’s almost inch perfect through ball looked to be setting Paddy Madden free.

But Brandon Comley got the interception in and cleared the danger.

However, throughout the first half it just seemed a case of when the home side would open the scoring and not if.

And so it proved shortly before the half-hour mark. But ironically it came from the rare sniff at goal that Walsall had all afternoon.

A through ball looked to have set Danny Johnson through, but Stockport intercepted, built an attack and Madden struck.

The ball found its way to Crankshaw on the right and his in-swinging cross found Madden in acres of space, and he had time to head in off the underside of the bar.

For a back three who rarely give much away in terms of chances, just 10 goals conceded before this clash, it was a woeful goal to concede.

But despite not laying a glove on the home side Walsall could have been level at the break as Johnson cut past Ryan Crosdale inside the box but was denied by Johnson’s block.

Until the dying moments that would be as good as it got in front of goal for Walsall.

Flynn rang the changes at the break. The ever reliable Peter Clarke was hooked off as Flynn threw on another striker.

But moving to a back four and going with more attacking intent did little to change the game.

Stockport still looked the far better side, with Madden going close on a couple of occasions.

As the game wore on they should have really buried Walsall.

Will Collar wasted a golden opportunity from a Connor Evans cross, but the longer the game went on the Saddlers did have a chance.

Although it was hard to see exactly where the goal would come from.

An indictment of Walsall’s display came when the most action at the away end came courtesy of a Walsall fan being ejected after an incident near the byline.

And when a Tom Knowles effort was met with sarcastic cheers from the travelling fans and chants of ‘we’ve had a shot’, it just summed up their afternoon.

But as Flynn would later praise his side for, despite the ‘painful’ display, they didn’t give in.

They threw balls into the box, tried to win flick-ons, and one long ball led to an unlikely equaliser.

A corner from Danny Cashman was met by substitute Williams and his glancing header found the bottom corner.

It suddenly made the Walsall fans’, who moments earlier were making their unhappy feelings known, afternoon that little more enjoyable.

The Saddlers even got into a couple of good positions in the final moments of the game, but you can’t be too greedy.

When you snatch a late point after a display like that, you have to be satisfied.

On the face of it, in isolation, a point after such a poor performance will be welcomed and give the players a boost.

But it is the latest game without a win – a run which stretches to 12 matches now and that needs to change.

The goal could be a turning point – but wins need to come, and quick.

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