Walsall boss Darrell Clarke sees Elijah Adebayo responding to his instructions
Walsall boss Darrell Clarke says treating striker Elijah Adebayo mean is starting to pay dividends after he helped the Saddlers come from behind to draw 1-1 with fellow unbeaten side Colchester.
Dating back to last season, the former Fulham forward has five goals in his last six League Two games, although he should have scored at least one more against the U’s.
Adebayo capped a lively display by curling home a second-half equaliser for the Saddlers to cancel out Callum Harriott’s fine finish but missed a close-range header that could have won it.
“Elijah was a handful for their two lads at the back and hopefully he keeps growing,” said Clarke.
“He’s a lovely kid but sometimes he needs a slap – although those slaps are less frequent nowadays.
“He’s bullying my centre-halves in training which I’ve told him to do and he’s starting to bully a few centre-halves in League Two which is exactly what we want.”
Harriott drilled home to reward Colchester’s impressive start after Jevani Brown’s classy chip hit the bar but from there it was all Walsall as U’s keeper Dean Gerken made three fine stops.
Clarke added: “If we play that game again, we win it – we’ve just got to be a little bit more ruthless at both ends of the pitch. I’m pleased with the performance but disappointed with only a point.
“We’ve got the longest unbeaten league run in all four divisions so that’s something we can try to keep hold of – that’s nine games going back to the last five of last season.
“To be in front of the likes of Liverpool and Man City with that, if we can keep that going we will be laughing.”
Colchester boss Steve Ball, meanwhile, was frustrated after United gave up a lead for a third game running, having drawn four of five.
He said: “I’ve said to the players, I feel a bit flat after that. I thought we showed real bits of quality in the first half and our game plan of counter-attack football worked.
“In the second half they have come out and really pressed high, getting in our face, being aggressive. And I just thought we resorted to going direct a little bit too soon.
“We are one up at half-time against a really strong side – can we see it out? We didn’t see it out but it’s still five games unbeaten in the league and it is a really positive start.
“We will take the point, still unbeaten, but deep down today I’m thinking we could have been better on the ball in the second half.
“I want us to see leads out – that’s Barrow, Oldham and now today where we’ve been leading. I’m happy but it’s mixed emotions.”