Archive for December, 2000

Walker Saves Saddlers

roger6 @ 10:55 am Saturday 30 December 2000

Super Jimmy Walker saved the Saddlers today at frozen Oldham – making a string of saves in the first half. Walsall now haven’t won away in 6 league games – but a point is a point, particularly as Millwall crashed at home to Notts County. Wigan move above us into 2nd after rightly stuffing Luton 2-0.

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Walsall lose away – again

roger6 @ 10:55 am Tuesday 26 December 2000

Walsall took a good early goal when Brett Angell capitalised on a early mistake, but then it all went wrong…

I should probably leave this to a message board, but I won’t. If we remember games earlier this season such as Oldham, Swindon, and Notts County, we will all remember the Saddlers playing ‘Saddlers football’.
‘Saddlers Football’ earlier this season constituted passing the ball smoothly across the floor, breaking away quickly, full of movement- every attack promising a goal. On some occasions we could have ninety minutes of absolute terror on the opposition- we played the football that would have kept us in Division One last term.

Now the team hasn’t changed, and the opposition hasn’t got any better, so why the hell are we playing as we did today?.
Lowering ourselves to the same long-ball rubbish played by Swansea is not the way I want to see Walsall play.

Full credit to Swansea, they were stronger, rougher, more willing,
committed, and direct. But how a good early lead due to pressurised attacking play, turned into a 3-1 thrashing- I don’t know.
Well actually, I do. Away from Bescot Walsall seem to have a serious lack of adaptibility, – we simply stop our game when under-pressure, and start playing more like the opposition. A prime example was Tom Bennett, today was his worst performance for Walsall. I don’t really care about his late penalty miss, the game was beyond us already, but at one point we got the ball and rather than control and pass, he just hoofed it – possesion lost. This oppitomised Walsall’s second half display.

Swansea’s equaliser was well earned they grafted and a good cross was met by a fine finish- fair enough. Swansea’s second goal was a joke,
Aranalde lost a header to a smaller man who was stronger than him, the man at the front post was not marked- 2-1. Swansea’s third was again due to lack of concentration. Aranalde fouled on the wing, deep cross, no marker, man following up… Walsall lose away – again.

Fab Gab Christmas Cheer

roger6 @ 10:56 am Saturday 23 December 2000

Gabor Bukran had last scored for Walsall on Boxing Day 1999, so it must be a seasonal thing as the Hungarian play-maker smashed two absolute beauties for the Saddlers today. Gabby’s first, a sweet half-volley from outside the box flew into the bottom left-hand corner after Cambridge failed to clear a Paul Hall cross after nine minutes of play. Then on the stroke of half-time a one-two between Bukran and Jorge Leitao, oozing class and composure, ended up with Gabby lashing home past Lionel Perez.

The half had been mainly Saddlers with Jorge Leitao missing a good early chance, Angell somehow missing a goaline tap-in, and Cambridge coming close with a Scott Young drive. Notably Chris Marsh was substituted early for Ian Brightwell.

However, Cambridge’s second half showing showed why they were so successful earlier in the season. They battled, scaped, and persisted and refused to let Walsall play their game, and even though Brett Angell had a goal disallowed for handball, it was no suprise when they grabbed a goal.

Jorge Leitao, having missed a few good chances was replaced by Darren Byfield, and the Saddlers weathered the storm. Cambridge attacked and attacked, and with the Walsall midfield over-run, Cambridge introduced David Reece. I know very little of him, when Walsall played the Liverpool in 1984, I was only fifteen day’s old, but he recieved a hearty reception from both fans.

Walsall sealed the tie when Pedro Matias latched on to a loose pass to lob the ‘keeper as the final whistle blew. Three points in the Christmas Sack but this was the game for one man – Gabor Bukran, listening on Radio WM he sounded so pleased, he want’s success, and he cares- just like the fans at this club do.

Graydon swoops

roger6 @ 11:31 am Sunday 17 December 2000

Walsall have confirmed the loan signing of Kevin Harper from Derby County. The former Hibs striker is scheduled to be at the Bescot for the next month. The player has spent much of the season on the bench at Pride Park.
Meanwhile general manager Paul Taylor has confirmed he hopes to bring in another player on-loan, with a chance that the moves could eventually become permanent. Taylor has revealed he has been working behind the scenes for some time to set up the deals and he now feels he is very close to a second deal.
He will not reveal who his second target is or just what area of the team he is now looking to strengthen but it is no great surprise hitman Harper has been targetted to bolster the Saddlers’ flagging attack.
Ray Graydon has confirmed that unless the forwards who are presently at his disposal start to do better he will change things in a bid to seek the firepower to ensure the Saddlers pull out of the bottom three. While Walsall have not been scoring as many goals as he would have hoped the team have also not been creating as many chances as he would have liked either.
A creative midfielder could also be on Taylor’s hit list but it seems unlikely he will be seeking to bolster the Saddlers’ defence as Walsall already have cover in place for the back four.

Lions tame Saddlers

roger6 @ 10:57 am Saturday 16 December 2000

Saddlers fans travelling back from London today do so in defeat, despite having creating a number of chances at the New Den. At least the Walsall players turned up – their kit was not so fortunate, having been left behind at Bescot. The critical point of the match was just after half time, when in the space of 60 seconds Jorge Leitao saw a header brilliantly turned onto the bar by the Millwall keeper. From the resulting corner Millwall raced up field, squared the ball, and bang, it was 2-0 and no way back for Sir Ray’s men.

It’s 13 quid for away fans at Millwall – but there can’t be many grounds in the country where you get such a brilliant view of the game. And on the evidence of today, Millwall have got a number of players who are destined for greater things. Their front two of Neil Harris and Richard Sadier caused problems throughout the 90 minutes, Mark Bircham scoring the first and starting the move that led to the second.

For Walsall there were some bright moments. Ekelund produced a delightful backheel late on, but it was not Darren Byfield’s day – he had a host of chances but could not convert any – his best effort was a one-on-one with Tony Warner which the keeper did well to block with his legs.

But no reason for despondency amongst Saddlers fans – Millwall are a very decent outfit, their stadium is superb, and they sit top of the league tonight. Let’s just hope for their sake manager Mark McGhee doesn’t do to them what he did to Wolves…

Walsall goes mobile

roger6 @ 10:57 am Saturday 09 December 2000

The unofficial Walsall pages are now the first Saddlers website to be available via your mobile. This means that those fans who can’t get to the game can check the latest score from tonight’s Walsall v Barnet clash direct from their mobile.
Other information on the service includes club contacts (to check if the game is still on), fixtures, latest news and directions to the ground for first time Bescot visitors.
Steve Roy, producer of the unofficial Walsall pages, commented: “I am delighted to bring Walsall fans this new information service. And we’ll be developing it over the next few months as the technology improves.”
To access the site, point your WAP phone at http://tagtag.com/walsall.
For those of you who haven’t got WAP phones you can also PREVIEW THE SERVICE – you may need to resize your browser window.

Walsall 2 Barnet 1

roger6 @ 10:57 am Friday 08 December 2000

A very entertaining game at Bescot on Friday evening, enjoyed by many in the pubs across Britain, saw Walsall deservedly move through to the third round draw, despite a spiritied second half performance by Barnet.

Walsall were 2-0 at the break thanks to two goals from Andy Tillson, who had never previously netted for the Saddlers. Danny Naisbitt, released by Walsall a few years ago, showed both brilliance and fallibility during those opening 45 minutes, making one of the saves of the season to tip a Darren Byfield screamer against the bar. But from the resulting corner Danny only fisted the ball against Tillson one yard out, and the Saddlers had got the break through.

On 45 minutes another Dean Keates corner saw Leitao hit the post, but from less than a yard out Tillson was on hand to put the ball home.

The second half saw a determined Barnet comeback, and they scored the goal of the game on 59 minutes through veteran Tony Cottee. Walsall then had chances to extend the lead before a nerve-tingling final minute when my pint was almost spoiled by a Naisbitt connection from Barnet’s last gasp corner, just failing to be turned home by Tony Cottee again.

The game was enjoyed by millions of Walsall fans worldwide on the new WAP service launched earlier this evening.

Walsall 2 Port Vale 1

roger6 @ 10:58 am Saturday 02 December 2000

The Saddlers have climbed back to the top of the table tonight after a 2-1 home win over Port Vale. Pedro Matias opened the scoring on 35 minutes, with Dean Keates doubling the advantage from the penalty spot on 50. Vale got a goal back and there was drama in the last minute when Dean Keates was sent off after a second yellow card – for kicking the ball away. Ray won’t be happy with the five cards collected by the Saddlers – but he was pleased with the win.

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