Walsall got a deserved point from their trip to Birkenhead against a Tranmere side who are fully deserving of their current lofty position. The Saddlers came into the match on the back of three victories, Rovers were top of the pile after an impressive victory against Southend.
The Saddlers were unchanged and in a poor first half for quality, they showed much gile and desire not to give a goal away and nick one at the other end. This is now a Saddlers' side full of pride which is why they attracted an away following of over one thousand fans on a friday night.
The match faced off as a chessmatch between two quality side and this fixture may crop up again in the end of season play offs if the Saddlers continue to perform to this level. Tranmere are a Ronnie Moore side and like all Moore side's they get the ball forward early and always pose an aerial threat from all set pieces, they also leave a bite in a tackle. Calvin Zola was posing problems for the Walsall back four, the former Newcastle trainee has bulked up this season but hasn't lost any of his pace. His was unlucky not to give the home side the lead after shaking off Rhys Weston but he fired across the goal, in truth Ince had it covered. Half time and the Saddlers just like they had at Victoria Park were doing good. The only blight to the performance was the injury which saw Dwayne Mattis taken off to be replaced by the now versatile Troy Denney. The young striker sat in front of the back and was a constant presence even though he's in his tentative years.
Tranmere started the second half with a hint of desperation, the home faithful were now on their backs demanding a home goal. But if Tranmere had desperation the Saddlers had more energy and willingness to get forward. It was a tactical match, a watchable game without goals as both sides probed forward for what would surely have been a winner.
It was former Saddler's loanee Chris Shuker who should have won the game, faced with a golden opportunity from six yards out he missed the target. Then it was the Saddlers turn to miss, Troy Denney forced an exceptional save out of veteran goalkeeper John Achterberg, a couple of minutes later Mooney's powerful drive was deflected over the bar.
Tranmere got more and more worried that the goal wasn't going to come, they were charged by the arrival of the subsitutes Jones, a tricky winger and former Barnsley player Anthony Kay. The Rovers have made it a habit to score late goals, scoring twice against Luton and offcourse a late Taylor goal at Roots Hall. But the Saddlers concentrated until the final whistle and it was going to take something spectacular for them to lose the match. Walsall would have been more than happy with the point but on another night they could have taken all three. It's becoming apparent that the Saddlers are now no mugs, their hard to play against and their younger players are now showing consitency. Ismale Demontagnac was brillant, he drew fouls when the Saddlers were under pressure, he constantly helped out Fox in defence, I'd just like to see him run at players more and get into the box.
The last time the Saddlers came to Prenton Park, they were desperate for points, under Kevin Broadhurst. That too was a friday night match and the game was spectacularly won by a fine individual performance by Grant Smith. Two great goals but Smith that night was the diamond in the rough, winning the game on his own, on this occasion the Saddlers only got one point but they were eleven players who were a team, all playing for each other.
A professional deserved point, now the Saddlers must show how good a point it is by taking three against Southend on Saturday.