Saddlers respond to Posh thrashing
WALSALL manager Dean Smith performed a U-turn in opinion after the Saddlers followed up their midweek horror show at Rochdale with a deserved point against Gillingham.
The Saddlers arguably had the better of the chances throughout this tepid tie as Ashley Grimes and James Baxendale both came close to grabbing a winner.
This was the fifth-consecutive draw between the two sides and while the Saddlers’ search for a first away win since the end of March continues, Smith was pleased with the response following their 4-0 shocker at Spotland.
“I said to the players at the start of the game that I was looking at the performance,” said Smith.
“Yes, I hoped the result was right, but following Tuesday we wanted to perform well and we did that.
“They showed what they can do and that gives us a platform to build on. We had the better chances and I thought we looked solid.
“But the draw was a fair result – I think had we got the first goal we would have gone on to win the game.”
The visitors started brightly and could have been in front twice in the opening minutes.
First, Gills goalkeeper Stephen Bywater made a reaction save to tip wide after Anthony Forde’s cross was deflected by defender Kortney Hause.
Grimes then flicked a shot at Bywater when any contact on Forde’s teasing cross looked like it would result in a goal for the Saddlers.
And Baxendale should have given the visitors all three points in the 79th minute following another excellent cross from Forde, but the on-rushing midfielder headed wide.
Joint-leading scorer Cody McDonald came the closest for the Gills, who remain beaten at home at Priestfield this season.
The former Norwich striker had an effort blocked by Andy Butler in the opening half, and then shot narrowly wide shortly before the hour mark having been played through by Gills captain Doug Loft.
John Egan’s header was deflected wide and winger Jermaine McGlashan threatened with a cross-turned-shot.
“It was a frustrating day because I think we are a lot better than that,” said Gillingham manager Peter Taylor. “But you can’t change that now – we’ve got to learn from it, which I think we will.
“I want people to appreciate that we’re a young team. I could see certain supporters were disappointed; we’re frustrated but we’re still improving.
“Just because we beat Peterborough in the week, that doesn’t mean we’re just going to turn people over now.We will have days like we had out there.”
STAR MAN JOHN EGAN Gillingh