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Matthew Taylor: "The Most Bizarre Game I've Ever Been Involved In"

Head Coach Matthew Taylor spoke to the local media following the Saddlers' New Year's Day meeting with Newport County.
After seeing his team bounce back from going behind on no less than three occasions, Walsall boss Matthew Taylor praised the players as they showed a 'never say die' attitude to take a point on the opening day of 2022.

After seeing their three final games of 2021 postponed as COVID-19 made its way through the opposition squads, the Saddlers played host to Newport County on New Year's Day, with the sides ultimately being forced to share the spoils.

Starting the match on the bench, Conor Wilkinson proved to be the man to change the course of the contest as he came off the bench to level the scores - Walsall had fallen behind to a Dom Telford goal with just four minutes of the first half played.

But Conor wasn't done there as he almost immediately put the visitors back into the lead with a bizarre headed own goal, only for the visitors to hand Walsall a goal of their own, Matt Dolan also finding the back of his own net.

Despite Telford netting his seventeenth goal of the campaign, the Saddlers were able to get back on level terms once again as the over-involved Wilkinson broke Exiles hearts deep into second-half stoppage time.

Speaking to the assembled media, Taylor, who was able to welcome a few of the walking wounded back into the fold, admitted the match was the most bizarre he has ever been involved in, he said; "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.
 
"To do it in the way we have and the style we have, it just solidifies my belief in this group of players. Of course, we made mistakes.
 
"Those mistakes led to us conceding goals. But in terms of our attacking prowess, getting into the final third and the crosses we put in, the deliveries and the runs were right – it was just that final bit where it wasn't dropping.
 
"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."

Continuing to look back at the year-opening six-goal thriller, Taylor went on to insist that his team was the better of the two, before praising the players for continuing to believe, even when faced with a one-goal deficit with just a minute of added time remaining.

Matthew continued; "I thought we were the better team, although we made decisions I wasn't pleased with defensively. Offensively, we were dominant, I felt, with the chances we created.
 
"I'm exceptionally proud of the players and the character they showed to come from behind three times. In the first half, I thought we were poor.
 
"We didn't take enough risks and played too safe. But in the second half, you saw a group of men that fought for each other until the final whistle.
 
"That's hugely important for us while on the flip side, we had enough opportunities to take three points.
 
"The players showed immense belief in each other, and you see the quality of Conor to score a spectacular goal to get us back in the game."
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