Makris is shattered as duck is broken...
WALSALL’S record signing Andreas Makris finally broke his Saddlers duck in the final month of the season – and had to be taken off after the celebrations got too much!
Makris had fired blanks since a reported £300,000 move from Anorthosis Famagusta in the summer but the Cypriot international broke his drought with a cracking 20-yard halfvolley before being substituted soon after.
Oxford fought back to earn a point through Chris Maguire’s deflected equaliser and had the better chances to win it late on.
But Walsall boss Jon Whitney was ecstatic to see Makris’ barren run end, saying: “That’s probably the most emotional I’ve been as a manager. Hopefully, for all of us, it’s the first of many goals for him.
“I think that the relief and outlet of pressure sucked the life out of him – he was dead on his legs after the goal so we had to change him!
“He’s a young kid and he’s had to deal with a lot. The fact he’s our record signing, of course that put extra pressure on him.
“It was just a matter of time for the kid to get settled and get his goal. And it was a great goal, not just a tap-in.”
Walsall bossed the first half as Kieron Morris rattled the post from 18 yards and saw a 20-yarder superbly thwarted by U’s keeper Simon Eastwood.
The Saddlers got the lead they deserved two minutes into the second half as Makris lashed home from just outside the box.
That spurred Oxford into life as Maguire’s cross was sliced onto his own post by Walsall defender James O’Connor and Matt Preston hacked Conor McAleny’s follow-up off the line.
United’s pressure finally paid off on 74 minutes as Maguire’s 25-yarder took a wicked deflection off O’Connor and they almost won it late on but Neil Etheridge saved McAleny’s rocket from longrange.
Oxford boss Michael Appleton admitted the draw ended his side’s slim play-off hopes. He said: “You look at the other results and if we had won then with four games to go, you never know, but it looks a bit too much for us now.
“The first half was like a pre-season game, but the goal sparked the game into life and it certainly spurred our lads on to up their performance.
“I was delighted with way they went about the second half, apart from giving away a poor goal in the first couple of minutes.
“You couldn’t ask any more of a second half performance, especially away from home.”