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Clarke: "It wasn't a game for the purists"

10 February 2021

Walsall boss Darrell Clarke admitted his side’s draw with Mansfield Town was not one for the football purists given the difficult conditions.

Max Melbourne netted on his Saddlers debut before Ollie Clarke levelled for the Stags in the first half.

Clarke’s side ended Mansfield’s five game winning run on what he felt was a game affected by the conditions.

“It was never going to be a great game,” said Clarke.

“Fans won’t see it on the camera but those were awful playing conditions.

“It was getting very firm there towards the end so credit to my groundstaff for getting the game on. It was not a game for the purists, there was never going to be much quality in the game.

“We started really well on the front foot, I don’t mean making four or five passes but getting into their area and getting set pieces. We get the goal, great work from a set piece that we do a lot of work on.

“Then my biggest frustration after that it was from our mistake, Alfie’s gone back, and I didn’t want my players to play back, and if he was to go back then the next one to go forwards because it was going to be a game of errors for me that cost it and that gave them the momentum for me which they took into the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.

“When we come again, we have another good chance from a set piece but at the end of the day it’s a point against a team that’s won the last five, in really good form and have big name players.

"They have high expectations in there, Nigel’s gone in there and done a fantastic job so we knew we were coming up against big players but credit to my lads, we’re very much development with the team we’re trying to build from.”

Melbourne, on loan from Lincoln City, marked a solid debut with a goal and Clarke was pleased with the 22-year-old who has settled in quickly.

“It’s a promising start for him so that’s pleasing,” Clarke commented.

“He’s settled in really good, it’s a good group to settle into, Max will tell you that, the spirit is fantastic and they enjoy the intensity of the training that we do so it’s promising when you hear loan players say that they haven’t trained like this in a while, it’s so intense so really pleased for Max to score on his debut.”

Attention now turns to Saturday’s game against Cheltenham Town at the Banks’s Stadium.

Watch the game live on iFollow by purchasing a match pass here.

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