SADDLERS TOP DAY IS DENIED
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.”