Walsall 1-1 Oldham Athletic - Report
07/08/2015 - 15:00
The Saddlers kicked off another season in League One with an entertaining score draw at a baking hot Banks`s Stadium. The game started in an emotional atmosphere following the fitting pre-match tributes and impeccably observed minutes silence following the well documented summer murders of Saddlers supporters Joel Richards, Adrian Evans and Patrick Evans.
Once the game itself got underway, the Saddlers started brightly as Oldham struggled to get to grips with our new formation, and it took just eight minutes for us to take the lead. Tom Bradshaw laid the ball off to Romaine Sawyers, who fired a ferocious rising shot into the roof of the Latics net.
As the first half wore on Oldham got more of a foothold in the game, and could have had a penalty when Jason Demetriou tangled with Cassidy. The Latics man didn`t appeal, and it`s a good job he didn`t as the referee was shaping as if he was going to book him for diving; a decision that would have been extremely harsh as I thought he had a case for a spot kick. They also had a few pot shots which missed the target by various distances, to the point where the most interesting thing Saddlers debutant goalkeeper Neil Etheridge had to do was jink past an onrushing Oldham striker when dealing with a back pass. Having seen him today and in a couple of the pre-season games he strikes me as someone who`ll make the difficult things look easy, and the simple stuff look incredibly complicated. He`ll be fun to watch but will cost us a goal or two along the way.
Early in the second half a well worked free kick saw Andy Taylor square the ball across to Sam Mantom, and a brief goalmouth scramble saw Paul Downing come very close to doubling the Saddlers lead, only to see his effort blocked on the line. Mantom saw an effort from the edge of the box well saved, and Taylor put another free kick wide. But Oldham were starting to take control of the midfield battle, as chances came and went for Michael Jones who fired wide, Joseph Mills saw an effort saved by Etheridge, and Lee Croft saw an effort blocked.
Dean Smith shuffled his pack by bringing on Milan Lalkovic for Jordan Cook, and the ex-Chelsea man had chances to put the game to bed, first seeing an effort blocked from a narrow angle, and then scuffing a free kick he should have probably left for Taylor.
With just 8 minutes remaining the visitors got the equaliser their battling performance deserved. Cassidy beat James O`Connor on the left and fired in a low cross that was tucked away by the completely unmarked Oldham substitute Jonathan Forte.
Bradshaw had a chance to win it for the Saddlers in the final minute, firing off target when he should have done better. A Saddlers winner would have been harsh on Oldham, and on first viewing you wouldn`t expect either of these sides to threaten the top 6 this season, and probably won`t end the season too far apart in the league table.