BIG MATCH MANAGERIAL VERDICT: Mark Cooper and Darrell Clarke run the rule over Forest Green and Walsall stalemate

Walsall boss Darrell Clarke insisted his side got away with “daylight robbery” as the Saddlers huffed and puffed their way to a point at Forest Green.

Caolan Lavery handed Walsall a first-half lead in a game bossed by Rovers who levelled things up on the hour through Jamille Matt.

Clarke, who was booked during the dying embers of the game, raged: “ We were shocking, absolutely awful apart from one bit of quality for the goal and that was it. We were shocking and got away with daylight robbery – miles off our performance levels today and not good enough.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Forest Green because they’re a good side, but we weren’t good enough today.

However, Clarke heaped praise on his managerial counterpart Mark Cooper. He said: “Forest Green are going to be right up there this season. Mark Cooper’s managerial record at Swindon, and every club he’s been at, he’s brought success to the football club. He’s an experienced manager, knows how he wants his team to perform, very enjoyable on the eye and they seem to be getting stronger.”

Meanwhile, Cooper lauded his side in a game he felt his team dominated.

He said: “The boys are playing brilliantly and we dominated the game again and had 27 shots so as a coach you can’t ask for much more, but we remain unbeaten and have to keep positive. We had six really good chances and I have full confidence that the boys will come good. As a group we’re in a good place as we’re playing so well.”

And Cooper felt his side should have been handed a penalty when Matt was hauled down in the box.

He added:“I made a conscious decision to not to talk about referees, but the referee today was horrendous. Antony Coggins has had some good games, but today he was a bit rusty and was poor.”

A goalkeeping masterclass from Walsall’s Liam Roberts denied Forest Green a victory, with both sides maintaining their unbeaten starts to the season.

Earlier, Forest Green were stung on 14 minutes – in Walsall’s first meaningful attack, Bristol City loanee George Nurse arrowed over a cross for Caolan Lavery to nod beyond the exposed Luke McGee. Rovers bossed possession but squandered a plethora of first-half opportunities – Aaron Collins inducing a gloved response from Roberts and Matt scuffing wide with just Roberts to beat.

Matt had a penalty appeal chalked off when falling in the box under the challenge of Hayden White as he prepared to convert an inviting Nicky Cadden cross.

Ebou Adams spurned a golden opportunity to draw parity just five minutes after the resumption but he inexplicably fizzed wide with only Roberts to beat.

Roberts kept Walsall’s lead intact when superbly touching over Collins’ howitzer from the edge of the box. Rovers netted parity on the hour – Collins picking out Matt for a cool close-range finish. Matt was denied a second with 15 minutes to go as Roberts scooped the ball off the line. Roberts saved the day again for the Saddlers – clawing away a Collins howitzer.

Forest Green: McGee, Godwin-Malife, Richardson (Wagstaff 54), Kitching, Moore-Taylor, Sweeney, Adams, Winchester, Cadden, Collins, Matt  

Subs not used: Thomas, Stokes, Stevens, March, McCoulsky, Bernard

Walsall: Roberts, Jules, Clarke, Scarr, Sinclair , Kinsella, Lavery (Adebayo 60), Gordon, Nurse (Bates 45), Holden, White  

Subs not used: Norman, Rose, Penny, Osadebe  

Referee: Antony Coggins  

Star Men: Aaron Collins (Forest Green), Liam Roberts (Walsall) 

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