<i>Southend United 0 Walsall 0</i>
After only a couple of days in charge of Walsall, new manager Kevan Broadhurst watched with pleasure as his team grafted for a point against League One leaders Southend.
There was an added bonus for him when he discovered that the draw had taken the Saddlers out of the relegation zone, with a good chance to improve on that when they meet Bournemouth at Bescot Stadium on Saturday.
Broadhurst is eagerly looking forward to that match, which he believes will be even tougher than taking on the high-flying Shrimpers who had won eight of their previous ten matches.
He said: "Southend away was probably the easier one because there was no pressure on us. We were not expected to win, but we shall be expected to win at home."
A victory anywhere is badly needed because Walsall have gone nine league games without picking up a win bonus and they will have to improve considerably on that to escape the drop.
In nine of the last 11 matches, they have failed to score and not a single goal has been managed in the last three games. So where will the goals come from?
Broadhurst has already recognised and addressed that problem by putting in extra work on set-piece situations, which have been a real weakness for the past two years.
There was a marked improvement, to the extent that two corners and a free-kick almost produced goals. The new manager will be anxious to transform Walsall's fortunes into a positive result in the final 12 games which will decide whether the club avoid relegation.
Walsall were fortunate to meet Southend on a day when their top-scorer, Freddy Eastwood, was suspended after a caution in the previous match when he notched a hat-trick in a 4-3 win at Chesterfield.
But the visitors were also without key players and one of them, Paul Devlin, returns to action against Bourne-mouth after completing a three-match suspension. He has yet to play 90 minutes of football for the club and should make a big difference when he resumes.
Key defender Ian Roper was cautioned for a fifth time on Saturday which means he will be suspended.
With a strong wind at their backs in the first half, Southend missed good chances in the 22nd and 33rd minutes, Shaun Goater and James Lawton failing with close-range headers.
As the first half drew to a close, however, Andrew Barrowman almost put the Saddlers in front, then Pablo Mills wasted a golden opportunity, heading wide from in front of goal when Simon Osborn's perfect corner invited him to score.
It was a similar story in the second half, with Lawson failing to beat the excellent Andy Oakes with a rising drive and Luke Guttridge miskicking after Lawson found him with a perfect low cross.
Walsall showed their staying power by switching to the attack in the dying minutes when Anthony Gerrard's header was well saved by Darryl Flahavan, then Kevin James and Mills were just thwarted in a sprited counter-attack.
Happy with the point, Broadhurst said: "I was pleased with 90 per cent of it. I spoke to the players and told them I thought they were magnificent. I would not even get into the 10 per cent I was not happy with.
"We can improve, I know that, but I am absolutely delighted because I thought, from back to front, they were magnificent."
On the evidence of this match, there is every reason to believe chairman Jeff Bonser made the correct decision when he gave the job to Broadhurst, who knows what it takes to survive at this level of the game. ..SUPL: