Archive for August 22nd, 1998

Wycombe 1 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 6:46 pm Saturday 22 August 1998

THE TEAM
Walker, Marsh (sub 42 Gadsby), Pointon, Keates (sub 72 Dyer), Green, Viveash, Wrack, Brissett, Rammell, Porter, Watson (sub 82 Ricketts)

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Matchfacts

Wycombe Wanderers did too little too late as they continued their worse ever start in the football league. They were two goals down to a Paul McCarthy own goal on 56 minutes and Andy Rammell strike three minutes later before they woke up. Wycombe pulled one back eventually through Nicky Mohan but it proved to little too late

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Express & Star

League tables are not worth the paper they are printed on at this early stage of the season – but you could forgive Saddlers players and fans for revelling in their Division Two placing this weekend.
Fourth place and within striking distance of the top spot, it’s as welcome and encouraging as it is unexpected.

A team who were expected to struggle by most people outside Walsall, and probably a fair few of the doom and gloom merchants in the town as well, are flying high and they deserve the little bit of pleasure that a job, so far well done, brings.

Saddlers boss Ray Graydon is one person who certainly won’t be getting carried away. But there is no denying that at present the Saddlers are up there on merit and the fact that they had such a daunting start to the campaign only further heightens their achievement.

Now comes the tricky bit – maintaining and furthering the progress made since Graydon took charge.

The supporters expectations will have been raised by what they have witnessed so far and now the club have chance to answer a long time criticism from the terraces regarding their ambition.

Graydon will continue to improve the players he currently has at his disposal, but wouldn’t it be nice if he had a few quid to add a bit more depth and quality to what still is a near threadbare squad.

Fulham, Stoke, Manchester City and Reading are all, I am sure, destined to be the teams leading the race to get out of this division. They have more financial clout, more fans and, in truth, better players than all of their rivals, and it is fanciful to think that Saddlers can compete on an equal footing.

But there is no reason why Walsall shouldn’t ‘mix and match it’ with the likes of Wrexham, Notts County, Bournemouth and Millwall – teams expected to be in or around the top 10.

One thing is for sure, no team in this division will be better organised, work harder or have more desire than the team Graydon has quickly shaped.

Those commodities were in evidence again at Adams Park on Saturday as the Saddlers turned in another away-day special to go with their opening day performance at Gillingham.

Wycombe were coming off the back of an impressive Worthington Cup success against First Division Swindon and had ruthlessly disposed of Walsall twice last season.

However, this is a new Saddlers outfit who quietly and efficiently go about overcoming whatever obstacle lies in their path. They were the better side in a first half, that was largely best forgotten, but upped the tempo to stunning effect after a half time pep-talk from the gaffer.

Within quarter of an hour of the restart they were two up and coasting and with Andy Rammell finally lifting a few worries by becoming the first Saddler to find the back of the net this season.

That goal had ended a frenetic three- minute spell that had seen Darren Wrack’s beautifully flighted cross receive the finish it deserved, even if it was via the head of home defender Paul McCarthy, before the woodwork denied Dave Carroll and Wycombe an equlaiser within a minute.

At that point it looked as if the visitors would coast to victory only for the home side finally to wake up and find a bit of passion and fire. Walsall’s rock solid defence found themselves being tested to the limit, finally succumbed for the first time this season when Nicky Mohan grabbed his side a lifeline with a quarter of an hour remaining.

That was the signal for an all out aerial assault that brought about some desperate last ditch defending as Wycombe sensed a chance of picking up their first point of the season.

James Walker produced one breathtaking save to tip away a Paul Read header while Gary Porter was on hand to hack clear from near his goal line as the pressure intensified.

But though they creaked, the Saddlers didn’t crack. Now where’s that League table again. . .

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