Archive for November, 1999

QPR 2 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 6:18 pm Saturday 20 November 1999

Brave Saddlers, but in the end the same story. Walsall’s latest visit to London ended as the last one did, in a 2-1 defeat despite playing some good football and deserving at least a point. 2 minutes when concentration was lost proved costly, and as happens in the First Division whereas last year maybe it didn’t, we were punished.

A measure of the difference between the squads – QPR can call on Rob Steiner, the Swede who impressed during his loan spell at Bescot last year; ex-Chelsea Gavin Peacock; Chris Kiwomya and the £1 million rated Kevin Gallen – who was injured so didn’t make the starting eleven. The Saddlers started with Micky Ricketts and Mark Robins – Andy Rammell fit enough for the bench.

Walsall started the brighter, but the game produced no incident of note until the 30th minute, when Neil Pointon looked to have got Walsall out of trouble by bringing the ball up to the half-way line. But loose control saw the ball given away, Rangers swept it wide, and Wardley found himself clear on goal – he made no mistake with the home side’s first real attack, and we were 1 behind.

Two minutes later another Pointon error saw a cross come in from the same right side, and Chris Kiwomya’s excellent header beat a scrambling Whacker and went in off the post. 2-0.

It was looking bleak for the Saddlers until 5 minutes before half-time when the Saddlers got a break. A bad slip at the back let in Micky Ricketts, who calmly slotted home his 4th of the season (joint top scorer now!) to give us hope. QPR then went up the other end and Gavin Peacock saw his excellent header hit the underside of the cross bar, then brilliantly cleared following a tackle by Ade Viveash. The half ended unluckily for Walsall when a superb move started by Ricketts saw him receive the ball from Wrack, and fire in a dipping 25 yarder that cleared both keeper and crossbar.

Same story after the break – a good spell of pressure with Ricketts at the heart of the action – he had 4 shots in that ten minute spell alone – when just as it looked we’d grab an equaliser, he went up for a header in the area and sustained a nasty facial injury that looks like ruling him out for a few weeks. We knew it was bad when “Trust me I’m a doctor” – a suit – calmly walked over and the subs started warming up.

With Micky off Walsall never really kept up the momentum, although we had lots of the ball. The corners lacked variation, cut out far too easily. Gino and Rambo came on, and then Thomas, his first appearance since being back from his loan spell, who replaced a limping Bukran.

The Saddlers fans behind the goal kept roaring the team on throughout, but started to turn on Robins and Bjarni towards the end, as too often mis-control let them down.

In summary yet another game this season when we’ve had lots of the ball, but fallen to sucker punches. The same issues remain – lack of a midfield, and a striker who can put them away. Man of the match Ricketts gets better with every game, and when fit again should partner Rambo, but it’s time now for Bonser to open his cheque-book, and either sign a proven midfielder who can do the basics, or bring somebody in on loan (and higher wages) to shore up a season that could now start to drift inevitably back to visits to Macclesfield next year.

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Argentine arrives at Bescot

roger6 @ 6:18 pm Friday 12 November 1999

A signing at last – it’s a short term swoop for Gino Padula.

Walsall’s foreign legion was boosted today by the capture of Argentinian Gino Padula.

The 23-year old left-sided player impressed in a behind-closed-doors friendly earlier this week and has been thrust straight into the squad for tonight’s Bescot clash with Port Vale.

Padula. who was a team-mate of Saddlers midfielder Gabor Bukran at Spanish second division club Xerez last season, arrives initially on a short-term deal with a permanent move in the offing should he impress, and will provide some much needed cover and competition down Walsall’s left flank.

“Gino did well in a private match for us this week and is definitely worth further examination,” said manager Ray Graydon.

“He can play left back or in midfield and I have no hesitation putting him in the squad for tonight’s game.”

Padula began his career with Argentinan giants River Plate before moving to fellow top-flight club Hurrican and then onto the Spain.

Brissett joins Cheltenham

roger6 @ 6:19 pm Thursday 11 November 1999

In a week where we expected to see a top Premiership striker join the Saddlers on loan, Bescot was rocked today with the news that left winger Jason Brissett has been allowed to leave to join third division strugglers Cheltenham on loan.

Paul Taylor, General Manager, is claiming this is because Jason “needs first-team action”, but is this going to be any good to us if he picks up an injury – or something happens to the mighty Pedro, who himself is only at Walsall on a short-term contract.

Fans patience is going to be sorely tested if the lads can’t get a result from the Port Vale game tomorrow – and the pressure on Taylor to get some new faces in will intensify.

Saddlers fall to sucker punch

roger6 @ 6:20 pm Saturday 06 November 1999

I received a few emails in the week from Charlton fans who expect to hammer us – in the end, Charlton took the 3 points, but they were extremely fortunate to get the points. The Saddlers had the majority of the possession, and played some great football, and were denied by 2 goals at killer moments – once on the stroke of half-time, the other 15 minutes from the end. And even then, the Saddlers could have grabbed a deserved point when Bjarni’s last minute effort was brilliantly pushed away by Charlton’s man of the match, their keeper Kiely.

With no Rambo available, Sir Ray opted for Micky Ricketts and Mark Robins up front, and the two worked tirelessly all afternoon, Ricketts in particularly demonstrating how far his confidence has come. A different reaction from the fans now as well when he has the ball – terrific encouragement instead of the heckling he got last year. Gabby had a good game, capped by a fine goal in the 35th minute as Wrack worked a clever short free kick to the Hungarian, who drilled it into the corner from 25 yards.

The first Charlton goal was a sickener – it looked as though Whacker had pulled off a great stop, but the ball rebounded back (perhaps a lack of defensive support on the line) and Andy Hunt bundled the ball home, 10 seconds before the ref blew for half-time.

But the spirt in the Saddlers camp is there for all to see, and whilst many teams may have buckled, if anything Walsall approached the second half even more determined, and were on top until fatally the bloke behind started talking about a great point won. Sure enough, the ball fell on the edge of the Walsall box, and Graeme Stuart blasted an unstoppable shot past unlucky Jim.

Despite another defeat, this was a very encouraging display by the whole team against a side with the best home record in the division. I heard 3 people repeat the cliche on the way out, but surely it’s true: if we play like this every week, there’s no way we will go down!

Wrack bid turned down

roger6 @ 6:20 pm Thursday 04 November 1999

Fulham have made a definite £600k offer for Wrack, but Walsall have rejected it. Apparently Wrack’s new contract (which he signed last week) includes a clause saying he can leave for bugger all if we are relegated. Fulham may make a new bid before the weekend, but this is less likely now they have signed Cadamateri from Everton on loan.

More news from Teamtalk:

A £600,000 bid by Fulham for Walsall winger Darren Wrack has been turned down by the Midland’s club who value the player at two million pounds!
The right-sided player has impressed Fulham’s scouts with the way he has adapted to life in the First division having been one one of Walsall’s top scorers in the second last year.
Wrack signed a new two-year extension to his contract at the Bescot Stadium only last week, but Fulham have already moved in with an enquiry.
They were willing to offer £600,000 for the player, but that is way below Walsall’s valuation. The Saddlers have included a clause in Wrack’s new contract saying he can go for a cut price figure if they are relegated, but they are looking for nearer £2m if he wants to quit before then.
Fulham have said they are thinking about it and will let Walsall know later in the week if they want to make an increased bid.

Bonser makes profit

roger6 @ 6:21 pm Tuesday 02 November 1999

Walsall’s annual accounts, to be presented at the AGM at Bescot on November 22nd, show the club has once again made a profit.

Full details are below – if anyone can get hold of a copy of the accounts I will be happy to publish them on this website. Just email me at steve@steveroy.com.

The figures are revealed in the club’s latest set of accounts which show a record turnover of £3.8million for the last financial year. The club were also able to make a profit for the eighth successive year.
But this figure fell from just over £280,000 to £35,000, almost a direct result of the payments that were made after the teams success in winning promotion.
Walsall’s income from League games rose last year, but overall receipts from games were down on the previous year as in that season Walsall had money spinning cup games at Manchester United and West Ham United. The accounts will be presented at the club’s annual meeting at Bescot on November 22.
The club’s owner Jeff Bonser has been pleased to report that Walsall have been able to show that it is possible to achieve success on the pitch without having to go into debt.

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