'I wasn't surprised to see him save it': Blackpool coach praises Mark Howard for penalty save in Walsall win

Mark Howard is swarmed by his Blackpool teammates after saving Matt Jarvis' penalty
Mark Howard is swarmed by his Blackpool teammates after saving Matt Jarvis' penalty
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Blackpool first-team coach Ian Dawes praised Mark Howard for his second half penalty save which came at a vital time in the 2-0 win against Walsall.

READ MORE: Match report from Blackpool's hard-earned 2-0 win against Walsall

The Seasiders, leading 1-0 courtesy of Chris Long's early opener, found themselves under the cosh during the second half with the Saddlers looking to get back into it.

Dean Keates' men were awarded a penalty halfway through the second period but Howard pulled off an outstanding save to keep Pool ahead.

Harry Pritchard then showed tenacity to force a mistake out of Walsall defender Dan Scarr to fire home from close range to round off the scoring late on.

The win stretches Blackpool's unbeaten run to five games and sets them up perfectly for Tuesday night's trip to Sunderland.

“In the end I thought we deserved the three points," Dawes said.

“Starting the game well was something we addressed in training. We needed to start brightly and we needed to make sure they understood what type of game they were in.

“I thought for the first 30 minutes we were outstanding. We went 1-0 up and we deserved it and possibly could have gone 2-0 up.

“It was a great finish from Longy. It was something we’ve been looking for him to do but it was just good to get him on the pitch as he had to drop out very late against Coventry.

“I was very excited to see him and he gave us everything we could get out of him. Once he got the opportunity I was confident he was going to score, even from that tight angle. He puts them in during training on a regular basis."

While Blackpool were superb in the opening 45 minutes, they only had a one-goal lead to show for it at half time.

“It was the sort of game where, because you start so well and you’re 30 minutes in, you stop doing what worked for you," Dawes added.

“You start to take a bit too long on the ball, you take the extra touch and you stop putting the ball in the box when you get the opportunity.

“I thought we did that and that allowed them to get in the game.

“I thought we started the second half brighter but Walsall came back in the game again, but we expected the fight because they’re a team that don’t lay down.

“They had a right good go and they made us defend well. Credit to Mark Howard in goal, I thought he was outstanding."

Howard, playing for the first time since injuring his groin in the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal last month, made a superb penalty save from Matt Jarvis in the 67th minute after Curtis Tilt had been penalised for a foul.

A minute later, he made an arguably even better save to deny Aramide Oteh from close range.

“Having been out for such a long time, he’s come in and he’s been outstanding when called upon," Dawes said of his goalkeeper.

“Whether it’s a penalty or not is debatable, I’ve not seen it back yet.

“But when we do penalties in training Mark does make regular saves, so I wasn’t surprised to see him save it.

“It’s not just him though. If you watch it again look out for Ollie Turton, he did outstanding to follow it up because if he doesn’t their lad taps it in.”

Having weathered the Walsall storm, Blackpool made sure of the three points three minutes from time when Harry Pritchard capitalised on a defensive error to notch his fifth goal of the season.

“It’s just typical of Harry, that’s what he does," Dawes said. "He runs around all day, that’s his mentality and that’s his desire.

“He gets around the pitch and that’s the type of goal he’ll score. He’ll put pressure on you and he won’t sit back.

“He had no right to go and win the ball there but he nipped the ball before putting it in. It’s a massive time to score the goal and relieve the pressure on us.”