Opening Day Draw For LaticsSubstitute Jonathan Forte smashed a late equaliser to earn Oldham Athletic a draw from their opening day clash.
Romaine Sawyers had given the home side the lead on eight minutes but Forte’s equaliser capped off a dominant second half display from Latics.
The opening day clash started at an intense pace but it was the visitors that had the first chance of the game on three minutes.
Jason Demetriou was allowed space on the right to cross into the box but Jordan Cook’s effort was tame and easily collected by Joel Coleman.
With the Oldham fans in fine voice, Jake Cassidy had Latics’ first chance of the game a minute later but blasted over from the edge of the box under pressure.
The home side took the lead on eight minutes through a fierce strike from Sawyers. The forward found space inside the penalty area and powered the ball beyond Coleman to give the Saddlers the early lead.
After the goal, Latics settled down and kept possession well but without really creating a clear cut opportunity.
The closest they came to opening the scoring in the first half was from Liam Kelly whose volley from 25 yards out just sailed past Neil Etheridge’s post as Latics knocked on the door.
Cassidy was causing a problem for the Walsall defence, winning headers and holding the ball up well in attack.
Latics did feel they should have been awarded a penalty just before the half hour mark as Joseph Mills was bundled to the floor but the referee waved play on.
Walsall were struggling to get out of their own half, but when they did, they were met by an assured centre half pairing of James Wilson and Jonathan Burn.
Heading into half time, Walsall almost doubled their lead, slightly against the run of play, as Sam Mantom shot from the edge of the box but Coleman saved well.
Latics started the second half on the front foot and with captain Kelly again going close from distance.
The midfielder saw the goalkeeper off his line and attempted to chip him from 40 yards but it was just off target.
Coleman had to be alert a minute later as the ball bounced around his penalty box but Latics just managed to clear the danger.
Athletic had a spell of dominance after this as Winchester crossed into the centre but it was just ahead of the strikers. As play continued, Jones struck from the edge of the area which Etheridge saved well.
Latics piled forward in the hope of getting a goal and Mills was the next man to go close, unleashing a stinging effort from 30 yards which the goalkeeper had to push away.
With the fans right behind Athletic, they continued to attack but Croft’s chip into the box on 63 minutes just went over the head of everyone.
Darren Kelly introduced Forte, David Dunn and Danny Philliskirk into the game and all three made an instant impact on the game.
Dunn’s Premier League class started to show as he shimmied and turned his defenders leaving them in his wake.
Latics were rewarded for their second half dominance as substitute Forte smashed in an equaliser with only seven minutes of the game remaining.
Cassidy, who had been impressive all afternoon, delivered an inch-perfect cross onto the foot of Forte who guided it beyond Etheridge to bring Latics level.
Latics continued to push for the winner with Cassidy heading over from 10 yards and a late corner causing problems for the Walsall defence but it finished a score draw at the Banks’s Stadium.
Walsall: Etheridge, Demetriou, Taylor, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers, Mantom, Bradshaw, Sawyers, Henry (Forde 86’), Cook (Lalkovic 66’).
Subs not used: Baxendale, MacGillivray, Preston, Flanagan, Morris.
Oldham Athletic: Coleman, B.Wilson, J.Wilson, Burn, Mills, Kelly, Jones, Winchester (Dunn 66’), Croft (Philliskirk 74’), Turner (Forte 63’), Cassidy.
Subs not used: Cornell, Gunning, Brown, Poleon.
Goals: Walsall (Sawyers 8’) 1-1 Oldham Athletic (Forte 83’)
Attendance: 5,009 (991 Oldham Athletic supporters)