SAD­DLERS TOP DAY IS DE­NIED

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Michael Beard­more

MANY emo­tions might go through a man­ager’s mind af­ter watch­ing his side robbed of top spot by a last-gasp equaliser – but Wal­sall boss Sean O’Driscoll showed pre­cisely none.

Danny Philliskirk popped up with a 94th-minute lev­eller to earn bat­tling Black­pool a point – and push Wal­sall out of the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion places hav­ing sec­onds ear­lier looked set for the sum­mit.

But O’Driscoll in­sisted Philliskirk’s late strike would not change his as­sess­ment of what he classed as an “ex­cel­lent” dis­play from his ti­tle chasers.

O’Driscoll said:“That’s foot­ball. If the game had ended on 92 min­utes and we win 1-0, I’d have said the same thing as if it ended on 95 min­utes and we draw 1-1.

“Those three min­utes do not change what I thought about the game – and I thought we were ex­cel­lent.

“If it falls for you at the death, you take it. Of course we’re dis­ap­pointed and I’ve told the play­ers to be dis­ap­pointed. But if they walk away and don’t take any­thing from the game, it’s point­less.

“There will be ups and downs for the rest of the sea­son, it’s not al­ways go­ing to be per­fect, but that was a game where we have al­most come of age be­cause we did so well.”

The Sad­dlers had to ride out early pres­sure from Black­pool who, buoyed by last week’s 5-0 smash­ing of Scun­thorpe, be­gan brightly, as livewire striker Jack Red­shaw had three good open­ings in­side the first 15 min­utes.

How­ever, Sad­dlers keeper Neil Etheridge was equal to his 25-yard drive, tipped over an­other strike from just in­side the box and was in the right place to gather when an off-bal­ance Red­shaw tried to flick home a cor­ner from close range.

Wal­sall as­serted con­trol from there but took un­til the se­cond half to truly threaten Seasiders keeper Colin Doyle, who then pulled off crack­ing fin­ger­tip saves to deny An­thony Forde’s 25-yarder and a Tom Brad­shaw header.

When Wal­sall’s full-backs com­bined to put the Sad­dlers ahead – Ja­son Demetriou steal­ing in to tap home Andy Tay­lor’s cross-shot – top spot looked there for the tak­ing with Bur­ton los­ing at home.

How­ever, Black­pool re­sponded well, sub­sti­tute Uche Ik­peazu mak­ing an in­stant im­pact with a near-post drive the alert Etheridge did well to push away.

Mark Cullen dragged an­other chance wide but deep in stop- page time Philliskirk res­cued a point af­ter Ik­peazu’s free-kick fell per­fectly for him six yards out.

Black­pool boss Neil McDon­ald said: “We showed we can han­dle play­ing against a top team and we showed we can cre­ate chances.

“Un­for­tu­nately we didn’t take them when we had them in the first half. But to say we snatched a point would be un­fair, I thought it was fully de­served.

“We kept at it, kept plug­ging away, we put them un­der pres­sure and they cracked in the end – it’s great to come away with a point.

“We are pro­gress­ing quite nicely. We’ve had some good re­sults of late. If we keep pro­gress­ing and keep on learn­ing, we can push our­selves up the ta­ble.”

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