A late strike from Josh Gordon rescued a point for Walsall and denied Town victory in their opening home fixture of the season.
After falling behind to Rory Holden’s fourth minute strike goals from Aaron Martin and Jack Muldoon set Town on their way but they had to settle for a share of the spoils in the entertaining afternoon at The Keepmoat Stadium.
Simon Weaver, whose side earned the LMA Performance of The Week award for their 4-0 demolition of Southend a week ago, named an unchanged side for the third consecutive game.
Both sides came into the game on the back of opening day wins but it was the visitors who struck an early blow, opening the scoring after just four minutes.
Elijah Adebayo had forced a smart save from Joe Cracknell low to his left, but the Town keeper could do nothing from the resulting corner as Holden found himself in acres of space and unleashed an unstoppable drive from 25 yards out.
Town almost hit back immediately through Martin as he met Warren Burrell’s cross but saw his powerful headed canon back off the bar.
Martin who again went closest again for Town on 17 minutes with his left-foot strike was well saved by Saddlers’
stopper Liam Roberts.
After falling behind early Town began to enjoy the better of the play. The pristine pitch at the Keepmoat Stadium suiting their passing style and the right-sided duo of Ryan Fallowfield and George Thomson imposed themselves on the game.
And it was from there that Town got back on level terms just after the half hour mark. Fallowfield’s marauding run resulted in a low cross into the danger zone and Martin’s tenacity saw him first to the ball to stab home to equalise.
Mark Beck then had a good chance to put Town ahead when his drive from the edge of the area went narrowly over the bar.
And Beck was instrumental in putting Town ahead just before half-time when he rose to meet Connor Hall’s deep free-kick and his header found Muldoon who made no mistake with his finish to make it 2-1.
Cracknell had to be alert on the stroke of half-time to maintain Town’s lead, smartly turning Dan Scarr’s header over the bar.
Danny Guthrie replaced Alfie Bates early in the second half for the visitors and the substitute went into the book just minutes later for a heavy challenge on Town captain Josh Falkingham.
Walsall had their tails up and threatened the Town goal soon after when a quick breakaway saw Josh Gordon set up Adebayo, who rounded Cracknell only to see his shot strike the outside of the post.
Adebayo again went close when he met Holden’s near post cross with the Town defence scrambling the ball clear and a loud penalty shout for handball was waved away by referee James Adcock.
With the visitors continuing to pressure the Town defence Weaver brought on Jon Stead after 70 minutes to replace Mark Beck.
Town were holding firm though and looked set to come away with all three points but with ten minutes remaining Connor Hall was penalised for a trip on Holden. Cracknell saved smartly from Gordon’s spot kick but the rebound fell kindly and he made no mistake to level at the game and earn his side a point.
As both sides pressed for a late winner, Guthrie was dismissed for a late lunge on Lloyd Kerry having already been booked.
Town: Cracknell, Fallowfield, Smith, Hall, Burrell, Thomson, Falkingham, Kerry, Muldoon, Beck (Stead, 71), Martin.
Subs: Minter, Lokko, Jones, Kirby, Walker.
Booked: Fallowfield (90)
Goals: Martin (32), Muldoon (43)
Walsall: Roberts, Norman, Jules, Clarke, Scarr, Kinsella, Gordon, Adebayo (Lavery, 71), Bates (Guthrie), McDonald, Holden (Osadebe, 84).
Subs: Sinclair, Rose, Nurse, White.
Goals: Holden (4), Gordon (81)
Sent off: Guthrie (86)
Referee: James Adcock
Report by Danny Pugsley.