Walsall 1 Blackpool 1: Five things we learned

Blackpool celebrate Viv Solomon-Otabor's equaliser
Blackpool celebrate Viv Solomon-Otabor's equaliser

Blackpool came back from the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at Walsall after a fortnight off from league football.

Viv Solomon-Otabor’s first goal for the Seasiders cancelled out Erhun Oztumer’s stunning free-kick in the opening half as honours ended even.

So what did we take from a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine?

Decisions evened out

How often do we hear the old cliche about decisions evening out over the course of a season?

It didn’t take that long as two contentious calls from Tom Nield helped Walsall to score a goal and have one chalked off.

While you could argue all day long that Colin Daniel’s challenge on Dan Agyei was not a foul, there can be no dispute at the way Oztumer fired home from 25 yards.

If Blackpool were unlucky there then they got the rub of the green when Jon Guthrie’s second-half header was ruled out for what was later revealed to be a foul on keeper on Ryan Allsop - though the lack of Blackpool protests was telling.

Who’d be a manager?

Blackpool are unbeaten at home in League One this season as are Walsall.

However, Gary Bowyer hasn’t had calls for him to lose his job unlike his Saddlers counterpart, Jon Whitney.

Yes, his decision to replace Agyei was a baffling one while errant passing and some of Walsall’s tactics invited pressure from Blackpool.

The boos and catcalls might not have been pleasant to hear but credit to the Saddlers’ boss for not hiding away and actually applauding the home fans at full-time.

Promising partnership

His manager might have said he was so stiff in the dressing room that he resembled C-3PO but Jay Spearing showed why Blackpool were so keen to bring him to Bloomfield Road.

His first appearance of the season yielded 63 minutes of calm, composed passing where one touch sufficed when others might have taken two or three.

The former Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers also dovetailed nicely with Seasiders’ skipper Jimmy Ryan after taking the latter’s deep-lying midfield role.

Whether by force of habit or not, Ryan occasionally found himself dropping back into that territory but, once that understanding is sorted out, Blackpool will have a formidable midfield pairing.

The first of a few?

Solomon-Otabor’s debut goal for the club has been a while in coming, though not for the want of trying.

The Birmingham City loanee is raw but he has most of the attributes required to make a name for himself.

The only thing missing until yesterday was an end product with previous opportunities kept out by the keeper, denied by the woodwork or sent off target.

As his manager said afterwards, the 21-year-old has had a difficult time off the pitch of late but he has responded in the right manner.

A sign of progress?

Though the referee’s decision making was the main talking point yesterday, one thing Bowyer said post-match struck a chord.

That was his observation at his players’ disappointment in travelling to Walsall and not coming away with a victory.

The hope is that, with home matches against Bury and Wigan Athletic this week, their efforts can be rewarded.

Blackpool may not have tasted victory in their last four league games but, if the players are unhappy with a draw at an always testing ground, then it bodes well for the rest of the season.