Archive for November, 2000

Walsall 3 Northampton 0

roger6 @ 10:59 am Saturday 25 November 2000

A superb display of fast, attacking football today saw a confident Walsall side stride to a 3-0 victory over Northampton, taking us back to second in the table behind Millwall.

Northampton came to Bescot boasting five away wins this season, but were behind as early as the third minute. Even earlier the ball had shot across the Cobblers’ goal line, but nobody was on hand to ram it home. When the ball came back in, Andy Tillson headed it down, and Jorge Leitao fired home from close range for his 11th of the season. We had several more chances in the next 15 minutes – and Sir Ray has obviously been reading this site’s message board, as our corners were dramatically improved – but we couldn’t add to the scoreline.

Northampton’s best spell was towards the end of the first half. Jamie Forrester looked sharp in attack, spinning several times effectively, but too much attention began to fall on the referee, Mr G Laws from Whitley Bay. A quick glance at the Division 1 facts reveals this lad has used his card 23 times in just 6 games this year – and it’s a racing certainty today he had money with one of the spread betting firms on the number of times he was going to show his colours today. In a competitive match that never got that heated, it was a disgrace Mr Laws booked nine players. He made no allowance for the heavy pitch and slippery conditions, was fussy throughout, and was, in summary, the only liability on the pitch. Fortunately his linesmen were excellent, and his inepitude was not allowed to affect the result of the game.

Anyway, back to the match. Raymond kept his troops in for five minutes longer than Northampton at half time, and the talk obviously did the trick, as we came out firing. With 55 minutes gone Walker’s superb distribution fed Leitao just inside the Northampton half. His strong run in turn fed Paul Hall, surging into the box, and his cross shot was too strong for the Cobblers’ keeper.

Jim Walker made a superb save at the feet of the dangerous Forrester to keep the two goal cushion, and their new signing with the girls surname saw a header narrowly go wide. But Sir Ray threw on fresh legs to solidify the win, and with two minutes to go a fantastic performance by the whole Saddlers side was crowned when Gabby Bukran’s cleverly flighted corner was turned in by Brett Angell from all of two yards.

At 2pm in torrential rain on the M6 I feared the worst – credit to the groundsman, all at Walsall FC, and Northampton and their very vocal and supportive fans – a great afternoon’s entertainment.

The Walsall man of the match was Dean Keates, filling in for the suspended Tom Bennett. Tremendous tackling and an engine in top gear for the entire ninety minutes.

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Walsall 4 Exeter 0

roger6 @ 11:00 am Monday 20 November 2000

A comfortable afternoon for the Saddlers in the first round of the FA Cup saw the team put four goals without reply past Exeter City. Pedro Matias opened the scoring after just two minutes, converting from close range after the keeper spilled Byfield’s shot. Ten minutes in a rarity for Walsall this season – a goal from a corner. No great tactics though, their keeper just dropped Bennett’s touchline effort and Paul Hall put the ball in.
Two more goals in the second half – more good work from Byfield, this time he crossed from the left for Jorge Leitao to head the ball home. Tony Barras completed the scoring on the final whistle.

Alfie Carter released

roger6 @ 10:59 am Monday 20 November 2000

Alfie Carter has been released on a free transfer, the club announced this morning. Christened Alfonso, the 20-year old refused Walsall’s offer of another short term contract. He only played nine minutes for the first team this season, replacing Paul Hall late on in the win at Wrexham. Many Saddlers fans picked him out as the young player to watch this season, so why is he leaving? Good luck Alfie, what’s the betting he ends up at Northampton like so many other ex-Saddlers?

Bristol Rovers 0 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 11:00 am Saturday 11 November 2000

The talk in the week had been about Ray’s daughter, but by all accounts it was the Saddlers who ought to have taken the points from their visit to Bristol this afternoon. It had to happen I suppose: the last 3 meetings between these two had ended 3-3, 2-2, and 4-3.

The home side hit the post as early as the sixth minute, and in the opening 45 Jim Walker made a series of fine stops albeit from long-range efforts. But in the second half Pedro missed a great opportunity, created by step-over Marshy, and Rovers survived two goalmouth scrambles.

Elsewhere in Division 2 Wigan overtook us at the top with a 2-1 home win against Cambridge; Reading surprisingly lost their unbeaten home record, slipping 1-0 to Colchester; Rotherham smashed Brentford 3-0 in London to climb to third, and Millwall remain 4th with a 1-0 victory.

Small footnote: I was in the Luton area on business this afternoon, and saw the other half of Bristol entertain the Hatters. 10 years ago Walsall were in the basement division, Luton were in the old First – now the sides are going in very different directions. It’s a tribute to the people who run Walsall FC that we at least are going the right way – having seen their side stuffed 3-0 by a Bristol side who didn’t play that well, Luton fans face a very bleak future.

Siggy moving

roger6 @ 11:00 am Tuesday 07 November 2000

It looks like Sir Ray’s wise decision to take Carl Emberson off at half time against Reading means the former Colchester keeper will now be leaving Bescot.

The club today put the 27 year-old on the transfer list, although it is vital to sign a new reserve keeper before Carl leaves, as there isn’t much cover for super Jimmy Walker.

Elsewhere the club announced a deal has been reached with Belgian Premier League club, Racing Club Harelbeke for the sale of striker Siggi Eyjolfsson. Cheerio Siggi, thanks for the memories as the old song goes – particularly the one against Oldham that saw us promoted.

Walsall 2 Reading 1

roger6 @ 11:01 am Saturday 04 November 2000

This game was a hard fight in which The Royals were the better side during the first half, with Walsall taking over after manager Ray Graydon had replaced nervous goalkeeper Carl Emberson with James Walker at half-time.

Reading manager Alan Pardew was most disappointed with two decisions by Rotherham referee Howard Webb.

The first incident came in the 14th minute when Keith Jones rolled the ball into an open goal, only for it to be disallowed for a previous foul by former Walsall striker Martin Butler.

The second incident was in the 81st minute when Reading couldn’t believe they hadn’t got a penalty as striker Anthony Rougier was sent sprawling from a tackle by Ian Brightwell.

Both came at vital moments, but in the end Walsall’s fighting second half performance won the day.

Reading were the stronger half in the first half, with Butler missing a good chance as early as the 6th minute.

Walsall did little although five minutes before the interval, Jorge Leitao sent a header goalwards only for his own colleague Paul Hall to get in the way.

Ten minutes into the second half, Darren Caskey sent a rasping free-kick against the Walsall bar, but it was Walsall who took the lead three minutes later.

The ever hardworking Leitao won an aerial battle, enabling Spanish winger Pedro Matias to score with a fine shot from 12 yards.

Hall missed a 64th minute chance and Tony Barras hit the woodwork as Walsall put on the pressure.

It was end to end action for a while with Leitao bringing a 78th minute save from Phil Whitehead before Reading substitute Jamie Cureton hit the post.

Walsall increased the lead in the 86th minute when Darren Byfield headed home from across by Hall.

Reading’s goal when it came in the dying seconds, was the best of the match.

Substitute James McIntyre cut in and unleashed a powerful left footed drive which left Walker with no chance.

Walsall manager Ray Graydon said afterwards: ” Last week I criticised my players for being unprofessional, but the commitment from both sides today was terrific. In particular my players responded greatly in the second half after a slow first half and we fully deserved to take the lead.”

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