First surprise was before kick off, no Andy Oakes who picked up an injury. His replacement was Rene Gilmartin, who had started against Chesterfield and looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Some FA Cup exploits against Merthyr and Yeovil hadn’t settled the nerves of the Bescot boys, after Tuesday this enforced change seemed to hearld defeat.
Other changes meant Westwood cam into defence albeit out of position at right back,Daniel Fox passed a late test to play at left back. Keates was pushed into an early return from injury to partner Leary in midfield in the absence of Mills, Osborn, Smith and Demontagnac. out wide was a clearly unfit Wright and Kevin James, Mads Timm joined Devlin up front.
The game started in a seris of throw ins to either side as no one seemed willing to take control. Our only glimpse of attacking effectiveness came through Mads Timm. After a fairly uneventful start Mads Timm used pocession well to feed Leary who unleased a drive that beat Ricketts all ends up, only to cannon off the wood work. James reacted first to head the ball past the stranded Ricketts into the net 1-0, and the sense of relief went around the stadia.
It got better the usual corner routine was played out in the 36th minute. Chris Westwood was able to charge in unmarked to head down past Ricketts 2-0 and we were cruising. Some poor descisions making put us under a small amount of pressure as the first half ended. Just as the board went up giving the final two minutes, the ball was floated over and Mark Bower got between the defenders to stoop a header past Gilmartin.
2-1 at half time and the Walsall fans had sensed that it was important that we had to keep them out and rebuild. Then in the 49 minute Gilmartin came for a cross which is questionable if he needed to. To make matters worse the youngster made a hash of the attempted punch and eventually the ball fell to Wetherall to guide it into the unguarded net. Memories of Gilmartins debut against Chesterfield, 2 up lost 3-2 came flooding back. We lost our way some what at this point and Bradford looked capable of getting a third. As the half progrssed we came more into into, and only a cynical foul by Marc Bridge Wilkinson prevented us getting clean through. Mark Wright was having one of those frustrating afternoons and was reaping the displeasure of the saddlers fans, as was to a lesser extent Kevin James who in a rare so of effort in the 67th minute hurt his hamstring to be replaced by Pead who went on the right with Wright switching sides.Some good positions were wasted by both sides and Walsall seemed to lack a cutting edge with Timms the only source of creativity. On chance lead toa penalty shout and an injury to Ricketts who looked to have injured his hand but after a lenghty treatment from the physio he was able to continue. Walsall brought on Fitzgerald and Constable which injected some urgrncy to out front play. and a late chance for Fitzgerald was saved well by Ricketts from the edge of the box and Constable wanted more time than he had when Devlin presented him with a chance, and the Bradford defence recovered well.
It was heart in the mouth time when in the fourth minute of added time Bradford broke clear only for Gilmartin to save well as he came and closed down to send the ball out for a corner than resulted in nothing.
The end, possible a fair result but at 2-0 up we need to be able to close games out. Other results have not really gone for us we drop to third from bottom, joined by Hartlepool and Rotherham all on 43points. Rotherham with the better goal difference move out of the bottom four.
Blackpool (44), Yeovil and Bournemouth(46),Gillingham (47) Tranmere and Port Vale (48) are not out of the mix yet.
Still a rabbit in the headlights but seems to have got some sunglasses now.
Some reckless moments mixed with some competent keeeping, save at the end ensured a draw, mistake however cost us a goal. Not the man for the relelgation run in but perhaps for the future.
Played out of position, until closing moments scored what should have been the winning goal, and was fairly comfortable. Some issues with positioning and having more time than he thought- comes from a centtre half at right back. Did well could keep the right back spot, however some Bescot fans are still waiting to jump on his every mistake.
Got Tuesday out of his system, solid performance against arkward Wilbraham. Passing will never be his strong point but he defended well
Same as Roper kept Bradford forwards quiet, and thats the job description.
Still not back to his pre injury best but was good enough against the difficult Lewis Emanuel, showed less come forward.
Hardly put a foot right, was clearly showing the effects of Tuesdays injury and was a canidate to come off. The thing with Wright is he may just put that cross in to lead to a chance…never looked likely today.
Busy and industrious battled well, never really found the space to create anything for himself or the forwards, never stood a chance when the ball was in the air, funny that!!!
Tried to keep the ball down more than Tuesday, he is the type of player that gets through his work without shinning. However if that 17 minute shot had gone straight in we would still be talking about it.
He has pace just wish he would use it more, never seems to take a chance on the through ball. Goal apart a bit of a non event for Kevin, came off with a hamstring injury will have to wait and see hoe bad.
Some nice link up play and found space well and of course held the ball up well for a little guy, never really got into many goalscoring positions.
Still fades in and out of the game, especially second half but still my MOTM.
Only 13 minutes on the pitch, first touch questionable, took too long over a good chance but added some urgency and presence to the attack, still hold onto his crowd favourite tag.
If less time on the pitch, some nice work out wide and a good shot, looked more interested in these 6 minutes than any other performnce.
Strange, right back, dropped out of tuesdays 16, appears on bench comes on as midfielder ends up at full back, nothing spectacular nothing disasterous.
Why Wrighty stayed on I don’t know must be concerned at our inability to turn a 2-0 advantage to a win
When Ben Muirhead came on the chants of you don’t know what you are doing rang clear, not happy time’s for Colin Todd