Walsall Head Coach Matt Taylor says Saturday’s draw at Bradford City feels like a win after playing over 50 minutes with 10 men.
The Saddlers came from behind as Jack Earing cancelled out Elliot Watt’s opener in the first half.
Joss Labadie was given a straight red card on the stroke of half time but despite being a man down, Taylor’s men battled superbly to come held off the Bantams to earn a deserved point for their efforts.
Taylor was proud of his players for their performance and he was in triumphant mood after the match.
“First of all, it feels more than a point,” he commented.
“What that’s given the players as a group is fantastic. You saw the way that they worked for each other, you saw the way that they put their bodies on the line. From my perspective, I think a point when you’re playing the last 50 minutes with 10 men is a fantastic result, especially here at one of the favourites at our level.
“I thought that we dealt with the crowd exceptionally well, I thought some of our younger players considering this is their first experience in this type of atmosphere was immense so I’m really happy with the performance and the word I’ve used with the players is I’m exceptionally proud of them.
“I was quite animated on the side-line; I know we’ve only drawn but I celebrated because it means so much to us.
“I think they’re proud of the fans that travelled, that they could put on a performance for them today.
“It was so good to watch, not from a football perspective in terms of we didn’t move the ball as well as I would have wanted but what the players have done today is given us the opportunity to when we do start playing football, we’ve got a huge togetherness in the squad so I’m exceptionally happy that we’ve come away with a point.”
Earing scored his first EFL goal when he turned home Brendan Kiernan’s cross.
Taylor has been impressed with the midfielder’s progress and is keen to see him develop further.
“When you look at Jack and his academy background, he hasn’t played league football other than being here,” he said.
“We’re very early on in the season and he’s a player who’s growing daily, when he’s on the ball he looks exceptionally comfortable. He moves it, he shifts it from side to side.
“We’ve got to continue making sure we help Jack develop while the big picture is we want to win football games. His performance was exceptional. He starts in the number 10 position and ends up playing 50 minutes as an eight and he was disciplined.
“I thought, on the ball, he was a bright spark for us when we had 11 men. The challenge now for the players is we’ve got to be better on the ball when it’s 11 v 11 but it’s given hope for the group of players, a real belief and they’re together in there so I’m really happy to come away with a point, especially considering for 50 or 55 minutes of that game we were down to 10 men.”
One player who didn’t feature at the Utilita Energy Stadium was Conor Wilkinson and Taylor explained why he wasn’t in the 18-man squad.
“During training, Conor pulled his hamstring,” Taylor confirmed.
“We didn’t see it coming, Conor didn’t see it coming. He was in line to play the game but Conor missing out give others an opportunity. We will have more news on the length that Conor won’t be available for and as soon as we have that we’ll let everybody know.”
Attention now turns to this weekend as the Saddlers host Mansfield Town.
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