Express & Star

Mat Sadler has mixed emotions after Walsall draw

Mat Sadler was pleased with Walsall's overall performance but was frustrated to concede from yet another long throw as Gillingham rescued a point at the Priestfield Stadium.


Connor Masterson capitalised on the Saddlers' inability to clear Shadrach Ogie's long throw and rifled an unerring half volley into the roof of the net from point-blank range.

The Saddlers' conceded in a similar fashion against Sutton United at Bescot last weekend when they failed to clear their lines from Ryan Jackson's throw, as Craig Eastmond's deflected effort found the bottom corner.

Isaac Hutchinson had initially given Walsall the lead from the spot, and Sadler felt the performance merited maximum points.

"I thought we were great today. Really, really good. We showed what a good team we are and we will continue to show what a good team we are," Sadler said.

"We silenced the crowd immediately and kept them quiet for the majority of it until the long throw kind of changed the complexion of the atmosphere around the place.

"Then we had to show a different side to ourselves. I was pleased with a lot of the performance today. A lot of dirty work and a lot of what goes unnoticed was done.

"I felt comfortable standing there for large portions of it, but naturally the long throw changes things. Lots of positives but we're obviously frustrated to concede."

Hutchinson scored his 12th goal of the season in all competitions and his 20th in a Walsall shirt in total.

The midfielder saw his effort handled inside the box by Ogie on the hour-mark, and maintained his 100 percent record from the spot with a confident finish into the bottom corner.

After the match, Sadler hailed Hutchinson as the "ultimate professional" as he extended his career best season tally.

"I had no doubts about him being the one to take it, but you've got to then put it away," he added.

"To be honest, I didn't see it because I was looking the other way so I'll have a look back at it.

"But anyone who has played football knows you have to have real courage to take a penalty and stand there and be the one to say I am your man.

"Isaac has got that in him in abundance. He's a fantastic guy, a fantastic character and the ultimate professional.

"He just wants to get better and improve. He's doing great so hopefully he can keep that going."

Sadler made one change to his starting XI as Josh Gordon came in for his first start since returning on loan from Burton Albion in January.

He also elected to retain Owen Evans between the sticks, and didn't feel it was a big decision to choose him over Jackson Smith, who saw a run of 10 consecutive starts ended in the draw against Sutton.

"I don't think it's a big decision to be honest. I thought Owen did very well and he's a fantastic goalkeeper," he explained.

"We've got two fantastic goalkeepers. I thought he was flawless and that's who Owen is.

"We're very lucky to have the goalkeepers that we have."