Drama abound: Hartlepool United 1-1 Walsall
Walsall lost a player to a red card for a second successive match, but were awarded their first penalty to TWO years in a 1-1 draw with Hartlepool United today.
Walsall prayers were answered as they took an early lead through Butler as he put the Saddlers ahead from the PENALTY SPOT on 3 minutes. The referee pointed to the spot, as Paul Murray brought down Mat Sadler, after Walsall were last awarded a penalty in September 2009. 0-1.
However, just 3 minutes later, Hartlepool were level. A long ball was sent down the pitch by Scott Flinders, the ball bounced in front of Jimmy Walker and the Saddler end expected a typical Walker save, but the ball tipped over his fingers and into the net! It was 1-1, no one could quite believe it and the game had only just begun.
Walsall pushed ahead in the first half and had to rely on some last ditch defending to keep the score level.
Anton Peterlin put an effort wide before Kevan Hurst couldn't quite get to the ball after some good passing for the Saddlers on 23 minutes.
On 41 minutes and in a bizzare twist, club captain Andy Butler club AND 'Pools Nathan Luscombe were given their marching orders. They both went into a crunching tackle on eachother and saw red for the actions. Now both teams found themselves with 10 men and a point to prove. It is a shame to lose another valuable team member for the Saddlers.
The second half saw a tense but riveting 45 minutes of football. Tempers flared on both sides but neither team could clinch the winner.
Richard Taundry put in a good cross and found the head of Will Grigg, but the effort was saved on 49 minutes.
Richard Taundry and Peter Hartley were then booked as things looked to boil over after a Jon Macken challenge. Things were getting heated and a tense atmosphere abound.
Macken was then swiftly subbed for Alex Nicholls.
Walsall battled hard but couldn't quite get their finish. Clumsy Anton Peterlin came off for Lee Beevers to make his debut on 82 minutes and Ryan Jarvis replaced Claude Gnapka on 77 minutes.
Jarvis hit wide and Sadler couldn't get the ball into the strikers as the game was slowly winding down.
The game eventually came to an end and everybody could finally breath a sign of relief after a tough game for the Saddlers.
The game will certainly not be forgotten and was well worth the 2-3 hour journey to the north east for the Saddlers.
It now puts Walsall in a vulnerable position as they lose influential Chambers for the next two games and Buter for the next three after their respective red cards. However, Walsall are still unbeaten and can take plenty of heart going into their next league game, away to Sheffield United on Tuesday.
Up The Saddlers!