Walsall boss Matthew Taylor described his side’s 3-3 draw with Newport County as “the most bizarre game I’ve ever been involved in,” after a late Conor Wilkinson strike against his old club rescued a point for the Saddlers.
It was the Saddlers’ first game in three weeks due to COVID-19 related postponements, and they found themselves 1-0 down after just four minutes as League Two’s top scorer Dominic Telford gave Newport the lead after the hosts failed to clear their lines. With the visitors leading at the break after an uneventful first-half, Taylor acted and Wilkinson came off the bench to face his old club, and begin a crazy second 45 minutes by scoring with his first touch on 53 minutes.
However, the drama had only just begun as only three minutes after bringing the sides level, Wilkinson headed into his own net to restore Newport’s advantage. The game took another twist just 9 minutes later, and this time it was Newport’s Matty Dolan who suffered the ignominy of scoring at the wrong end through a sliced clearance.
County didn’t have to wait long until they were back in front through Telford’s 17th’ of the season, as he headed home after an initial effort hit the crossbar. The visitors then hung onto their lead until 5 minutes into stoppage time, and it was Wilkinson of all people who lashed home from the edge of the box with a sweetly struck volley, sparking scenes of pandemonium in the home ends of the crowd as some fans spilled onto the pitch in celebration.
After the final whistle, Taylor praised the character of his side to come back three times in such a frantic 90 minutes in which he believed his side were the better of the two.
“It’s definitely the most bizarre game I’ve ever been involved in as a coach.
“At times, it had the feel of ‘you attack, we attack’. If we hadn’t have got anything, it would have been an injustice, in my opinion.
“The players are disappointed not to have won, and that shows you the growth of the group. I ask the players to never give up and never to lose belief in themselves. So, I’m really pleased for them, although looking at the bigger picture, it should have been more than a point.”