Match report: Walsall 1 Blackpool 1

Blackpool drew with Walsall on Saturday afternoon
Blackpool drew with Walsall on Saturday afternoon

Referee Tom Nield and his colleagues took centre stage at the Banks’s Stadium as honours ended even.

The Blackpool camp had bemoaned the decision which allowed Erhun Oztumer to curl home a 25-yard free-kick and give the Saddlers a first-half lead.

Then, following Viv Solomon-Otabor’s leveller, it was Walsall who were unhappy after Jon Guthrie headed home Joe Edwards’ corner, only for it to be ruled out while the home players were still celebrating.

Gary Bowyer had made two changes to the starting XI beaten in the Seasiders’ previous league outing at Southend United.

Jay Spearing was handed his debut and Callum Cooke was restored on the left-hand side of midfield with Solomon-Otabor and Sessi D’Almeida the men to make way.

Though the Seasiders trailed at half-time, it was Bowyer’s players who had much the better chances in the opening half.

Spearing almost created the opener three minutes into his debut but saw his corner headed just wide by Clark Robertson.

The defender headed off target again and Kyle Vassell wastefully shot straight at Saddlers’ keeper Mark Gillespie when Cooke was much better placed.

That decision came back to haunt the Seasiders when Walsall took the lead.

Colin Daniel was deemed to have brought down Dan Agyei 25 yards out, a decision which left Bowyer taking out his anger on fourth official Samuel Lewis.

That mood darkened further when, from the subsequent set piece, Oztumer curled an unstoppable effort beyond Ryan Allsop and triggered a talking-to for the manager for his protests.

Gillespie’s foot kept out Vassell’s shot moments later, though the Blackpool defence blocked further efforts from Agyei and Oztumer.

The Seasiders could - and should - have drawn level by half-time with Gillespie punching out Ryan’s free-kick, Delfouneso heading over from six yards and the keeper holding Cooke’s close-range effort.

The second half began in the same vein with Vassell just failing to meet Delfouneso’s cross and Curtis Tilt heading over another Spearing cross.

With Walsall’s fans becoming increasingly frustrated, not least at the substitution of Agyei, the Seasiders drew level.

Solomon-Otabor cut into the area from the Blackpool left-hand side and fired past Gillespie for his first goal of the season.

Delfouneso fired wide from the edge of the area before an increasingly end-to-end affair saw Oztumer find the side netting and have a shot deflected behind.

That led to Guthrie’s disputed header as the home side poured on the pressure with time running out.

Two free-kicks on the edge of the box came to nothing as Oztumer sent one over the bar and another into the wall with the final whistle looming.

Walsall: Gillespie, Wilson, K Roberts, Guthrie, Devlin, Edwards, Morris, Leahy, Oztumer, Agyei (T Roberts 61), Bakayoko. Subs not used: L Roberts, Chambers, Kinsella, Flanagan, Donnellan, Kouhyar.

Blackpool: Allsop, Turton, Tilt, Robertson, Daniel, Delfouneso, Ryan, Spearing (Solomon-Otabor 63), Longstaff (D’Almeida 63), Cooke, Vassell (Clayton 78). Subs not used: Williams, Mellor, Taylor, Aimson.

Referee: Tom Nield.

Attendance: 4,503.