Archive for February, 1999

Northampton 0 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 6:38 pm Wednesday 24 February 1999

By all accounts a bit of a close-one at Northampton last night, with the home side constantly pumping the high balls into the box, but Walker denying everything they could throw at him. Darko got the only goal mid-way through the second half to keep the pressure up on Preston, and to a lesser extent, Fulham.

The Saddlers have won their last three away games in the league, and head to relegation-threatened Notts County on Saturday knowing another 3 points are vital. County enjoyed a good win last night over disgraced Luton, who we play next weekend at Bescot.

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York report

roger6 @ 6:39 pm Saturday 13 February 1999

York: Minns, McMillan, Thompson, Tinkler, Jones, Barras , Himsworth, Agnew, Cresswell, Rowe, and Hall. Subs. Reed, Jordan and Carruthers.
Walsall: Walker, Marsh, Pointon, Keates, Viveash, Roper, Wrack, Watson, Rammell, Larusson and Mavrak. Subs. Evans, Thomas and Brissett.
Referee: M Pike of Barrow

Mavrak instigated Walsall’s first forward venture when he tried to release Rammell with a through ball but Minns was alert to the danger racing from his line to punt the ball to safety.

But Saddlers next attack earned them the perfect start and they took the lead with just 2 minutes on the clock. Mavrak was again involved with a surging run down the left that was ended by a clumsy challenge from McMillan.

From the resultant free kick WRACK swung over an in-swinging cross that avoided both Viveash and Roper before curling into the corner passed Minn’s despairing dive.

The home side responded almost immediately with Tinkler rising to meet Hall’s corner, only to see Walker push aside his header.

The visitors then threatened again on 7 minutes and came close to doubling their advantage. Larusson was the creator with a defence splitting pass that sent Wrack racing free behind the York defence, he advanced into the area before unleashing a fierce right foot drive that was turned aside by Minns.

The open nature of the game continued with York making progress down the right where Himsworth swung over a teasing cross with Marsh coming to his side’s rescue with a timely headed clearance.

Both sides were looking comfortable in possession with the home side enjoying slightly more of the play but unable to penetrate a so far solid looking Saddlers defence.

There was one moment of concern for the visitors when Walker had to react quickly to block Cresswell’s progress with Rowe’s follow up effort then being blocked by Viveash.

Cresswell, who earned his first under-21 cap for England in mid-week, needed treatment after 18 minutes after he came off worse in an aerial dual with Rammell. But after a brieft stoppage the highly-rated striker was able to continue.

York’s next threat came via Agnew, who broke down the right, but his progress was halted by no fewer than three Saddlers players with Mavrak getting the final challenge to deflect the ball off Agnew and out for a goal kick.

Cresswell was looking the home side’s most dangerous player and it needed a crucial intervention from Roper to deny the striker a strike on goal as he worked space just outside the Walsall area.

Walsall were failing to pose much of an attacking threat and York came close to drawing level on 25 minutes. Keates looked to have been fouled just inside his own half and while Saddlers hesitated Himsworth advanced down the right before delivering a low cross that reached Hall at the far post, who then controlled before sending a left foot shot skidding across Walsall’s goal and just wide of the far post.

When Walsall did venture forward Rammell was proving to be their best outlet with the striker laying the ball into the path of Watson, who then found Marsh, but after skipping passed Hall, Barras was across quickly to check the full back’s progress.

The home side were continually using the flanks to good effect and another cross from Hall saw Rowe’s first time effort deflected just wide by Larusson.

The resulting corner then brought further alarm for the visitors with Rowe hooking over 6 yards after Walsall had failed to clear.

Almost immediately Saddlers were once again on the back foot as Thompson delivered a surging free kick from the left, and unfortunately for Walsall the ball skidded off the head of Jones and out for a goal kick.

Walsall were now struggling to find any rhythm going forward but their unrelenting work rate was making it difficult for York to carve out any clear cut opening, a point highlighted when Keates robbed Cresswell on the edge of the area as the striker shaped to shoot.

Some neat footwork from Agnew did carve out a half opening for Cresswell, but the striker uncharacteristically took his eye off the ball and completely miskicked.

Mimms had been a virtual spectactor for most of the half but was called into action after 38 minutes when he held a speculative long range effort from Rammell.

The half ended with York continuing to press with captain Jones leading by example as he made a surging break into the Walsall box, but once again a Saddlers defender was on hand to intervene with Viveash ending the threat.

Half Time

The home side picked up where they left off straight after the interval with Rowe and Hall combining down the left but for once Hall’s final cross was disappointing with the ball sailing behind Walker’s goal.

Keates then started Walsall moving forward with a delightful cross field pass to Wrack, his progress was partially halted by Thompson and as the ball broke, Larusson let fly with a first time effort that flew high and wide.

After making a perfect start to the first half, Saddlers repeated the trick with WATSON bagging their second goal just 6 minutes into the half.

The home side appeared to be in little danger when Pointon hoisted a long clearance downfield, but Watson showed great composure to bring the ball down before rounding Barras and curling a delightful right foot shot beyond Mimms and into the far corner.

Amazingly Walsall could have made it 3 just a minute later after a rapid counter-attack. Rammell started the move by releasing Wrack for a free run on goal, the winger advanced before rounding Mimms and then pulling the ball back across goal only for Larusson to somehow turn his shot wide from inside the 6 yard box.

The second goal had clearly rocked the home side and Walsall once again carved their defence open as Keates, Larusson and Wrack combined to tee-up Watson, whose attempt to chip was foiled by Mimms.

There was a lengthy stoppage when Hall required treatment following a crunching tackle by Roper. The player clearly looked in some discomfort and he was finally stretchered off being replaced by Carruthers.

The visitors had clearly received a half time pep talk with manager Ray Graydon and were looking a far more livelier outfit with Wrack in particular looking dangerous.

Cresswell was still posing the Saddlers rearguard plenty of problems and another impressive burst from him was ended at the cost of a corner by Marsh.

Walsall were now starting to produce some neat constructive football and Wrack could have further increased their advantage after 66 minutes when he met a superb first time cross from Mavrak but failed to control his header with the ball flying just over Mimms’ cross bar.

York were pushing forward in an attempt to haul themselves back into the game, but Walker had been largely untroubled having to deal with just a couple of routine crosses.

The home side threw themselves a lifeline on 73 minutes when CRESWELL headed powerfully home from close range following a good run and cross by McMillan

Larusson was then inches away from restoring his sides 2 goal cushion with a sweetly struck long range effort that grazed Mimms right hand post.

A minute later Brissett, who had replaced Mavrak tried his luck from long range, but his dipping shot just cleared the bar.

Viveash came to his side’s rescue 10 minutes from time with a brilliant goal line clearance to block Agnew’s shot following a goalmouth scramble.

Win over Reading

roger6 @ 6:40 pm Saturday 06 February 1999

Reading today went down to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Walsall
and did little to stop the slide.
The Royals still look shaken by the 6-0 thrashing at the hands of
Bristol and it showed again to day in an apathetic lack lustre
performance.
Walsall were bright from early on, started off with a blistering 25
yard effort in the first couple of minutes from Roper which had
Howie scrambling to deny an early lead for the away side.
The Madjeski faithful were understandably anxious about their
sides lack of effectual resources and the defensive formation left
little to desire.
A three man defence which dropped back under pressure was
constantly under siege as they were opened up at the back time
and time again especially through the wings where the Royals
were often bear.
One shining light though was the debut of loan man Tony
Thorpe, his introduction alongside Williams gave hope but they
were denied heroics again and again by a lack of any real
service, the final ball from midfield to forward often being
appalling.
Predictably then it was Walsall who took the game, only needing
one goal to do so.
By far the better of the two teams a goal before half time sealed
the encounter, Reading again caught at the back by a system
which obviously wasn’t working for them were surprised when
Dean Keates snuck in to nick the ball and lashed a 25 yarder
past the stranded Howie who’s vision was blocked.
Tommy Burns will now have to seriously work on morale
between his players, because if they carry on in the same vein,
real problems could begin to appear on and off the field.

Reading 0 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 6:34 pm Saturday 06 February 1999

THE TEAM
Walker, Marsh, Roper, Viveash, Pointon, Wrack,
Larusson (sub 89 Evans), Keates, Mavrack (sub 78 Brissett), Rammell, Watson (sub 78 Thomas)

Walsall manager Ray Graydon revealed the secret of Dean Keates success, after the tiny midfielder scored the only goal of the game at the Madejski stadium.

“When I took over, I scientifically measured the fitness of all the players,” said Graydon.

“Dean is one of those that has been put on a regime of extra training to make him fitter and it’s paying off because that’s his second goal in successive games.” “It also helps that he eats a lot of Weetabix.”

Keates goal came a minute before the interval after Andy Rammell flicked on a long clearance from ‘keeper James Walker.

Royals’ boss Tommy Burns blamed the state of the Reading pitch for his sides’ dismal performance.

“For a new pitch, it has been over used,” he said, making reference to the fact that Richmond rugby union club also play their home games at the showpiece stadium.

“We tried to play a passing game, but even Brazil would have had problems putting more than two passes together on that surface.” Burns could have added that his side was hard hit by the absence of midfield schemer Darren Caskey and hardman Phil Parkinson, both of whom were suspended for this game after an accumulation of yellow cards.

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