A mixed day for the Bees against a very good Walsall side. The winning run may have finished but the unbeaten one continues following a 1-1 draw, a result the visitors must have been more enthused by than the hosts.
It was never going to be a walk in the park but the absence of Harlee Dean, Adam Forshaw and Sam Saunders through injury made the job that much more daunting.
On the plus side Dougie reclaimed his spot following his own knock. Will Grigg was given a start on his first return to the Bescot since his controversial summer move, and unsurprisingly was roundly booed by the home support.
From the kick off there was something not quite right, the midfield was solid without being spectacular but the absence of two such bright attack minded players as Sam and Adam is always likely to impact on how a team play.
Previous weeks had seen forward motion and sharp crisp passing, on this occasion however players seemed content to go backwards, and on more than one occasion were almost the architects of their own downfall.
On the half hour however a passing move lead to Jake Bidwell whipping in a cross which Clayton got on the end of and nestled the ball low beyond the keeper to put The Bees a goal to the good. For the few minutes directly following the goal the urgency that had become synonymous with Warburtons team in the recent weeks of incredible form.
Sadly the shaky showing from the Bees was taken advantage of shortly before half time. Harlee Dean is as we all know a rock in the centre of defence, however this means that in his absence whoever replaces him wont have the match fitness that only comes from playing regularly, in this instance it was club captain Kevin O’Connor who filled the void and through no fault on Kevin’s behalf Craig Westcarr was allowed the freedom of the 6 yard box to tap in a deserved leveller.
After the restart Alan Judge and George Saville looked to go forward instantly, the latter found Clayton who was crowded out by 3 home defenders who instantly looked to launch another attack. The remainder of the half was almost exclusively Walsall pressure. Of the rare attacking threats the Bees offered two stick in the memory, firstly an outstanding passage of play ended with an inch perfect pass from Clayton into the waiting Marcello Trotta only for the Italian to see his half volley attempt go agonisingly over. Secondly an instant involving two substitutes, the lively Chubba Akpom ran at the defence menacingly before sliding Stuart Dallas in only for the resulting effort to drift wide.
Both defences held out and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Orient winning at Crewe meant that they regained top spot over The Bees. However it must be pointed out that with 60 points to play for, being 1 point off the top is a very promising, indeed the very fact that we can ‘drop to second’ bodes well, being top for 4 months was never going to be easy and as all fans of both clubs know its where teams are in May that is important. Yes winning the league would be nice, and in my opinion deserved, however 2nd will do.
When Harlee, Adam and Sam regain fitness they will be like 3 new signings and a massive boost for the remainder of the season. BEELIEVE