NOBODY should be that surprised about another draw at Walsall.

Let’s face it, City always seem to get a stalemate from their trips to the West Midlands.

Saturday’s was the fifth in the last seven visits to this regular stop-off on the League One map.

But none have felt like this.

They are usually low-key affairs with few goals and fewer talking points.

Not so this time. That’s if City had been willing to do any post-match speaking.

But the players were strictly off-limits from the media afterwards as Stuart McCall held court to air the frustrations within the dressing room, dug-out – and, no doubt, the board room.

One fan on social media snapped chairman Edin Rahic stony-faced, arms crossed in his seat as the team spectacularly imploded in front of him.

McCall did not mince his words. There was no attempt to sugar-coat an afternoon that ultimately highlighted the weaknesses of a team that are still very much in limbo.

The 3-0 lead after 49 minutes may have been hugely flattering. But having secured such a cushion against an energetic Walsall side, to let it slip away was an act of gross incompetence.

The old cliché of a draw feeling like a defeat was never more apt as referee Michael Salisbury’s final whistle was greeted with a chorus of boos from the away end.

A point at Walsall is usually not to be sniffed at. And the present team that Jon Whitney has constructed seem to have bit more of an edge about them than the easy-on-the-eye passing approach long associated with the Saddlers.

The switch to three central defenders has added more height; the Scottish wing-back duo more devil out wide; the addition of new loanee Tyler Roberts an apparent cutting edge.

But for all the home improvements, there can be no getting away from how the Bantams self-destructed with a third win in four firmly in their grasp.

McCall attracted some inevitable criticism for the substitutions that followed after Matt Kilgallon’s header had bounced in off Luke Leahy for City’s third goal.

Off went Shay McCartan and Alex Gilliead, later followed by a limping Tom Field, and with them much of the attacking impetus.

But, as the manager stressed in his defence, the changes were there to counter Walsall’s all-or-nothing response prompted by the appearance of the excellent Roberts.

Put simply, City lost too many individual battles when it mattered – they were weak in too many areas as McCall made plain.

He may feel in hindsight that his side lost the momentum with the reshuffle. But he could argue that players simply didn’t do the jobs expected when the hosts looked to put their foot down.

The fact that all three Walsall goals came from headers just added to the general anxiety over the currently unsuccessful and increasingly frustrating chase for another centre half.

But to be fair, the two in the middle – certainly the in-form Kilgallon – were among City’s most industrious performers. There were just too many crosses raining in.

There are still question marks over whether this season’s squad is a step-up on last year. The early indications are yet to convince anyone.

Maybe it’s a case of too many not really on their game right now; time will tell but patience appears to be in short supply.

At least two of the new faces did give City the ideal platform to build on at half-time.

McCartan had admitted beforehand that he was still looking to find his best form. He acknowledged the grumbling from some sections and vowed that he would win over the critics.

So the goal that broke the deadlock after half an hour provided a timely response.

Alex Gilliead, given a free reign to bomb up and down the right flank, launched the move with a scintillating charge.

Charlie Wyke, who worked hard in his first start, crossed low and the Northern Irishman popped up at the far post to score unchallenged.

The fact it came against the run of play mattered little as City celebrated – and it got even better nine minutes later.

Field set it up from the left this time and Dominic Poleon controlled before sliding a precise finish through a number of bodies into the corner.

The Bantams appeared to be firmly in control on the scoreboard after his third goal in five games but the game remained far tighter.

The warning signs of what would later follow flashed just before the break as Kieron Morris horribly shanked a one-on-one when put through by Joe Edwards.

Still, that danger seemed to be well passed when Kilgallon rose above the pack to meet Tony McMahon’s free-kick and Leahy could not get out of the way.

Four minutes into the second half, a third City goal had surely punctured any half-time ambitions Walsall had harboured of launching a fightback.

Whitney reacted by unleashing teenager Roberts, a highly thought-of prospect at the Hawthorns according to Darren Moore.

He had been on the pitch for barely two minutes when Walsall made their first inroads into City’s apparently impregnable lead.

Leahy swiftly atoned for his part in the third goal by scoring at the right end for the second time in a week, getting on the end of a cross from the other wing-back Nicky Devlin with a bullet header.

As the Banks’s Stadium stirred into life, Leahy turned provider for Roberts to get off the mark just eight minutes into his debut.

In contrast, it was hardly the smoothest start for Luke Hendrie as the Bantams came increasingly under the cosh.

For long periods they could not get out of their own half as Walsall hunted an inevitable equaliser. It arrived after 87 minutes.

Lachlan Barr conceded a cheap free-kick near the penalty area, Kilgallon headed out but the visitors could not clear the danger.

Roberts picked it up on the right, looked up to spot his man and Amadou Bakayoko plunged for the header from close range.

Frighteningly there were six added minutes still to survive. Daniel Pybus snatched at the chance of glory on a rare City counter but it was McCall’s men who were relieved to hear the whistle.

WALSALL: Gillespie 6, Guthrie 6, Edwards 6, Donnellan 6, Edwards 6, Morris 5 (T Roberts 53min, 8), Chambers 7, Wilson 6, Leahy 7, Oztumer 7, Bakayako 7. Subs (not used): Cuvelier, Kinsella, K Roberts, Kouhyar, Candlin, L Roberts.

CITY: Doyle 5, McMahon 5, Knight-Percival 6, Kilgallon 7, Field 5 (Barr 76min), Reeves 5, Law 5, Gilliead 7 (Hendrie 59min, 5), McCartan 6 (Pybus 55min, 5), Poleon 5, Wyke 7. Subs (not used): Taylor, Jones, Patrick, Sattelmaier.