Port Vale 1-1 Walsall
09/08/2014 - 15:00
A reasonably entertaining game against two sides who will probably finish in the bottom half of the league finished with the Saddlers coming from behind to gain a satisfying opening day point.
New signings James O`Connor, Ashley Grimes and Tom Bradshaw were all thrown in to the starting XI, while Billy Clifford took his place on what was, Dean Holden aside, a very youthful Saddlers bench.
Both teams spent the opening 20 minutes trying to work each other out. O`Connor was struggling to settle at right back against tricky Vale winger Mark Marshall, and James Chambers was looking less comfortable as a left sided centre back than the former captain he replaced. So it was no surprise in the 25th minute when a Marshall cross caused a mix up between Chambers and Richard O`Donnell and handed Tom Pope the easiest of opening day goals.
At that point you could have forgiven the Saddlers faithful for fearing the worst as we hadn`t posed a threat at goal at that point and, barring a few snap shots from distance, failed to do so for the duration of the first half. O`Connor did have a headed goal ruled out for offside, but the flag had been up for about 3 passes so the game had clearly already stopped.
After the break however the Saddlers upped the tempo and started having a go at Vale. Bradshaw was looking threatening, if a bit isolated at times, Grimes was getting in to the game more, Taylor and Benning were combining well on the left, while Romaine Sawyers was too often guilty of trying to be too clever for his own good.
On the hour mark we got our reward when first Sawyers, and then Grimes attempted to get the ball to Bradshaw. When the ball eventually arrived he executed a cool finish that felt like it was going in slow motion on its way to rolling into the corner of the net.
From that point on we did look the most likely winners, although I never felt confident that we actually would. However, we were missing key players Mantom and Cook, and there`s surely at least one or two more signings to come. So there`s certainly room for optimism. We`ll play better sides than Vale this season though, and they`ll play stronger sides than us, but on the face of it a point away from home is never a bad result.