Well Earned Point, Safety Nearly Achieved.
The Saddlers picked up a well earned point last night, one that puts us three points shy of the fifty one point mark. Only once as a team gone down on fifty one points and with how the table is looking you wouldn't imagine Northampton, MK Dons, Wimbledon, Oldham and Rochdale getting to that figure.
It was refreshing last night to see a Walsall team go away from home and defend resolutelty. Yes Oldhams equaliser still had the feel of Ian Sharps/Jon Whitney but everything before and after that certainly had Keates stamp on it.
The Saddlers lined up 4-4-2 with Kinsella, Dobson and Ngoy replacing Cuvelier, Oztumer and Shaibu.
The Saddlers came out with real purpose and tested the Oldham keeper early on. First Dobson played the ball to an unmarked Ngoy on the edge of the area but he scuffed his shot which Placide saved easily. Then Baka was next to test the keeper but he was caught offside. In the early stages it was clear Oldhams keeper looked a bit dodgy and a bit of pressure on him from a corner led to our first goal. Without Oztumer we actually produced a corner which beat the first man and the ball fell kindly to Fitzwater who prodded home.
The Saddlers then decided to sit back and back and back. With Nazon (predictive text keeps changing it to Amazon) causing the back line trouble. With blocks from Guthrie, Leahy and Dobson the home side never really threatened Robbo in the opening half hour but somehow grabbed an equaliser right on half time.
Kinsella, Chambers and Guthrie did their best musical statue impressions as Nazon ran past with ease before firing into the bottom corner, possibly Roberts could have got more on it but his second half doesn't justify any criticism.
Oldham came out second half and hit us with wave after attack. Nazon constantly causing problems, was surprised to see him replaced on the hour mark but maybe that was to rest him for more crucial games for the Latics.
Roberts then pulled off three high class saves. The first was world class. A shot which was only half charged down deflected high in the air off Fitzwater and looped over Roberts and was heading for the corner. Roberts turned into Usain Bolt, got to his line and somehow managed to claw the ball out from under his bar and even more miracualously pushed the ball out for a corner. Take a bow son.
Guthrie went close for the Saddlers from a free kick deep into the Oldham half but the dodgy Placide tipped it over the bar.
Special mention to Nicky Devlin. He was like a man possessed last night, true captain material. Let's not mention his tackle which could have left the Oldham man in hospital but his passion is a breath of fresh air in a team that is quiet as a mouse. Highlight of the night was Devlin going mental at Shaibu for just casually walking back for an Oldham corner.
If you had offered us a point before the game most would have snatched your hands off. We now head into our third crucial league game against Wimbledon knowing another home victory will see us safe for another year.