Archive for March, 1999

Walsall 3 Bristol Rovers 3

roger6 @ 6:36 pm Sunday 21 March 1999

Another great game against Rovers ended in another goal feast, but the Saddlers will be kicking themselves for losing a two goal lead despite at times being second-best with possession.

Walsall beat Rovers 4-3 having been 2 down in Bristol before Christmas, and then came from 2 down in the Auto Windscreen before winning on penalties, so there was a pattern to expect…

The Saddlers got off to a perfect start when Jason Brissett, in for the dropped Mavrack, fed Rambo who scored his 19th of a remarkable season. Despite Rovers pressure it was the Saddlers who doubled the advantage when Cramb hit his second penalty on successive Saturdays to banish memories of 5 misses by other Walsall players from the spot this season.

After the break Rovers began their comeback and had equalised by the 63rd minute through two goals from Cureton. But it was the main man Cramb who restored the home advantage four minutes later, and the Saddlers looked set to hold onto the points and move back into the automatic promotion place, until the final minute.

A poorly hit back-pass from Wayne Evans was cleared by Jim Walker only to rebound off the head of Cureton and land in the net.

Sir Ray should now take up Mr Bonser’s newspaper offer made last week and open the chairman’s cheque-book. Mind the dust though Ray.

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Cramb rules

roger6 @ 6:37 pm Monday 15 March 1999

Yes we were lucky, but after Tuesday night, didn’t the lads deserve to be?

A smash and grab raid on Millwall on Saturday saw on-loan Colin Cramb cap a tremendous display with two first-half goals to sustain this amazing promotion challenge. His first came from the spot midway through the first half when good work from Mavrack down the left saw his cross needlessly handled. The referee, shuffling a good deal of weight round the pitch, wasn’t going to give it, but the lino did. Who was going to take it – the Saddlers have missed five penalties during normal play this year – but Crambo stepped up and steered the ball to the right of the keeper.

Ten minutes later and a gift of a second – the Millwall defender hit a desperate back-pass way short of his keeper, and Cramb was left to steer the ball into the empty net.

Before then Millwall had smacked the Walsall cross-bar, and after we went 2 up the Lions roared – and got a goal right on half-time.

The second half saw a sustained spell of Millwall dominance – they hit the post twice in a minute – and a blinding save from “Super Jim” which was as good as anything you’ll see this year. Sadier volleyed the ball from the edge of the area and Jim arched backwards to tip the ball round the post.

Hopefully Sir Ray has seen enough now of Millwall to know where their threats lie – and for me it’s mostly from corners. They put five men on the edge of the D, as opposed to us who put three men on the goal-line – and then there’s generally a lot of movement. But they don’t like it out wide, and their defenders can look shaky.

All the best for Tuesday lads.

Narrow loss at Millwall

roger6 @ 6:37 pm Tuesday 09 March 1999

A first leg defeat for the Saddlers then in London tonight. A headed goal from a Millwall corner after four minutes was the difference between the sides, and sets up a titanic second leg at Bescot on Tuesday with the tie winners going to Wembley.

Walsall thought they’d equalised mid-way through the first half when Cramb put the ball in the net, but the referee had blown for an earlier Millwall infringement, so the goal was ruled out, a free-kick awarded, which saw Cramb’s next effort turned round for a corner.

Walsall had other chances and dominated for long spells with Darren Wrack proving a thorn in Millwall’s defence, particularly in the second half. It was his run into the box on the hour mark that led to a Walsall penalty, but Neil Pointon saw his spot-kick saved by the Millwall keeper.

And in the final minute Bjarni Larusson saw a 20-year drive clip the top of the cross-bar.

See you at Bescot for the second leg.

Third win over Luton

roger6 @ 6:38 pm Sunday 07 March 1999

The Saddlers recorded their third victory over Luton this season in a tight contest played in muddy conditions at Bescot on Saturday.

The game survived three pitch inspections to go ahead, and it was Luton who early on made the most of the slippery surface, causing the Saddlers’ defence some problems. Spring should have opened the scoring after four minutes but blasted wide with only Walker to beat.

Cramb made his home debut for Walsall and proved effective in setting up a number of attacks in the first half, although Darren Wrack, given yards of space on the wing, was not seeing enough of the ball.

Wrack had troubled Luton constantly in both previous games against the stuggling Bedfordshire outfit – whose chairman recently quit after receiving a petrol bomb through his letterbox – but their manager Lennie Lawrence had clearly not done his homework again.

Mavrack looked to be struggling in the conditions and was replaced by Jason Brissett mid-way through a second-half which saw Walsall increasingly dominate possession, without finding the cutting-edge to convert chances into goals. But as the snow continued to fall, so Dean Keates took a hold of the game and his determination led to the goal.

Shaking off several clumsy challenges in his own half, Keates skidded his way down the field before laying the ball off to Cramb, who in turn flicked the ball to Wrack, bursting through on the edge of the box. Wrack showed good control to slip the ball past Davis and send the Bescot fans delirious.

The Saddlers looked relieved to have broken the deadlock but should perhaps have pushed harder for a second goal – and it almost cost them in the dying seconds when Luton skipper Marvin Johnson saw his flcked header deflected just past the post.

So a first home win in four outings for the Saddlers, co-inciding with Preston’s draw at Gillingham, meaining we are now just two points off a promotion place.

Attention now switches to three games in a week against Millwall – who were thumped 3-1 at home by improving Notts County.

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