Walsall 1-1 Wednesday
The Bescot Stadium, Walsall
23/04/11 - 3pm
Neil Mellor continued his good goalscoring form as he fired Wednesday to a share of the spoils against relegation-threatened Walsall at the Bescot Stadium in League One today.
Mellor netted his 18th goal in all competitions this season in the 26th minute after former Barnsley and Manchester City man Jon Macken had fired the hosts ahead inside the first ten minutes.
The result did few favours for the hosts, managed by former Owls captain Dean Smith, in their battle against relegation and will have suited the Owls more as they aim to finish the season in good shape.
Wednesday had enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hartlepool United last time out but boss Gary Megson still made one change to his side, with Giles Coke returning to replace Jermaine Johnson in midfield.
And it was Coke who had the first sight of goal, O'Connor setting him up to test Walsall goalkeeper James Walker for the first time inside the opening two minutes as the visitors started brightly.
While Wednesday had relatively little but pride to play for in their remaining matches, each game was the proverbial 'cup final' for the Saddlers and three points would have been huge against the Owls.
The hosts soon upped their game and responded with an effort from Marc Laird not long after Coke's effort, but Wednesday stopper Richard O'Donnell was equal to it with a fine save.
Saddlers captain Andy Butler also came close to opening the deadlock but his header was deflected wide from a Walsall corner kick as the hosts continued to push for the breakthrough.
They were rewarded in the tenth minute when Macken showed his experience to drill the hosts ahead.
Richard Taundry placed a header back into the danger zone and Macken was well-placed to steer his effort beyond O'Donnell and give the Saddlers a crucial lead.
The goal gave the hosts a big lift and they came close to doubling their advantage not long after the opener when Laird launched an ambitious long-range effort which dipped just over O'Donnell's bar.
Walsall were on top and Wednesday's leveller, in the 26th-minute came somewhat against the run of play. The Owls had stemmed the flow of the home attacks but they rarely threatened goal.
That was until Lewis Buxton thrashed a powerful effort at goal and Walker could only parry his save into the path of poacher Mellor, who had no trouble in slotting in the leveller from close range.
The hot conditions in the West Midlands didn't make for a slow tempo, with both sides putting in an entertaining contest as chances continued to come at both ends before the half-time interval.
Jordan Cook had a good chance for Smith's men but he fired wide from 18 yards out and then Gary Madine headed wide from a Gary Teale cross at the other end as the sides went into the break on level terms.
Half-Time: Walsall 1-1 Wednesday
The result will have somewhat suited Wednesday, but Walsall will have no doubt been given the message that they had to go out for the winner in the second half to try and haul them out of the relegation zone.
But Teale and Madine linked again at the start of the second 45 minutes as Wednesday made a bright start, the latter again glancing a header wide from a Teale free-kick.
The Saddlers failed to show their attacking qualities on the restart and it was Wednesday that looked likely to add to the next goal, this time Buxton produced a penetrating run down the right before firing at goal only for Walker to push the ball out for a corner.
The hosts were far from out of the game though and they replied through danger man Macken, Taundry again picking the experienced hitman out but his effort went agonisingly wide for the hosts.
Both chances continued to carve out chances in the second half but a draw always looked the likely result as the second half wore on.
Madine again directed a header off target for the visitors while, at the other end, Matt Richards tested O'Donnell but the Owls stopper was equal to his effort.
Wednesday had edged the second half but a draw was probably a fair reflection on the goal overall.
Full-Time: Walsall 1-1 Wednesday