Archive for February, 2001

Ekelund Exits

roger6 @ 10:50 am Wednesday 28 February 2001

Danish midfielder Ronnie Ekelund has left the Saddlers this morning after Sir Ray was unable to guarantee him a permanent starting role. Full text from official site below:

It has been reported this morning that Danish International Ronnie Ekelund has left Walsall Football Club. After discussing his situation with Team Manager Ray Graydon, it was made clear to Ekelund that unfortunately Graydon could not give him a fixed first team place.

Graydon would have liked Ekelund to stay on at the Club but the midfield/attack player wanted to seek a long term contract elsewhere. Obviously the loss of a player at this stage is not what the Club really needs.

Ray Graydon had the following to say on the situation

‘Ronnies departure will underline our need for incoming players. Paul Taylor and myself are burning the midnight oil and wearing out our car tyres while trying to improve the squad.’


Walsall 2 Wrexham 3

roger6 @ 10:50 am Monday 26 February 2001

Reflections on Saturday’s disaster – 2-0 up and cruising, only to lose 3-2 to the Welsh lads. Here’s what one fan made of it, talking EXCLUSIVELY on this site’s message board:
HONESTANNON – On Saturday Graydon’s tactics lost us the game. The players can only do what the manager tells them. The first thing I noticed at the start of the 2nd half was the defence immediately dropping off to the 18 yard box. I SIMPLY COULDN’T BELIEVE MY EYES! Personally I thought our players did ok. They weren’t that bad. When you defend that deep you invite trouble. The best form of defence is attack, not Newcastle 1996 style but good possession and defending further up the pitch would see us home. Wrexham would never have troubled us if we were more positive. Look at their 2nd goal for example. That piece of play should have been 20 yards up the pitch!!!! This was all down to Graydon. Also when Wrexham equalised he should have immediately bought on Ekelund if not b4. I still think he’s a brilliant manager but I do think he needs help. We need a number 2, a coach who has great tactical awareness. Coupled with Graydons discipline it could really work. Back to my first point. The players are not to blame. I’m confident that our first 11 CAN and WILL get us up. WHY OH WHY GET ON PAUL HALLS BACK. He’s a very talented player who unfortunately has become the target of many fans frustration. He’s considerably better than Wrack and has a wicked right foot. OK, he’s been inconsistent but we should get behind him and the whole team including Brett Angel who, because he runs funny, or for whatever reason cannot do anything right by the fans. He’s lacked service all season and goals to starts ratio is as good as Jorge. We do need to improve the squad but again that’s Graydons job. WHILE A PLAYER IS WEARING A WALSALL SHIRT HE SHOULD BE BACKED ALL THE WAY. Of course I’m not saying they can’t be criticised but certainly this season SOME of them haven’t been given fair treatment. Get behind the lads, we’re still going to do it!

Walsall nail Luton

roger6 @ 10:50 am Wednesday 21 February 2001

Billed as “Joe Kinnear’s Luton”, boasting three wins on the bounce, and with all the confidence a top-class manager and the promise of plenty of cash for the team, the Luton Town side that actually turned up at Bescot last night were in truth a big disappointment.
Credit for this must go to Sir Ray, celebrating his 150th game in charge of the Saddlers, and how he has transformed the club since his arrival three years ago. Then Luton were a promotion-chasing outfit, and Walsall were scrapping in mid-table. Now, the roles are very much reversed.
Ray took one look at the pitch before kick-off and preferred Dean Keates in midfield to Saturday’s penalty-hero Ronnie Ekelund. Andy Tillson was ruled out, and so Tony Barras partnered Ian Roper at the back. Pedro was restored to the wing in place of Darren Wrack. From the start it became clear Walsall had too much appetite, energy and strength for Luton – with Brett Angell going on to cause their inexperienced central defensive pairing problems throughout the game. The first goal arrived on 12 minutes, difficult to see exactly what happened from the other end of the pitch, but after a scramble in the box, Jorge Leitao hit his 16th of the season with an overhead effort. After more Walsall pressing that lead was extended when Tom Bennett burst down the right and sent a powerful shot across the Luton keeper. He should really have saved it, but varying reports indicated it either hit a pot-hole, or took a nasty bounce, or the keeper simply fluffed it. Anyway, it didn’t matter, we were 2 up. And should have gone in 3-0 up but Jorge put a clear header wide right on the whistle.
Half time Kinnear gambled and took both strikers off – a tribute to Walsall’s first half tenacity that had seen Luton barely have a shot. But the change did wake Luton up, and they enjoyed a decent 15 minute spell that shows they can probably still avoid relegation. In the middle of this purple patch Spring scored to reduce it to 2-1, and a few anxious faces looked up from the Balti pies. Luckily, any nerves soon vanished when a clearance from Ovendale fell neatly onto Barras’ head – his accuracy found Byfield clear and in on goal, and Dazza’s pace did the rest – shooting coolly for a 3-1 score, which was how it finished.
Afterwards Kinnear blamed the pitch, saying it was a disgrace to play on a cow-field. Whilst not making excuses for the pitch, which visitors to this site have already acknowledged is very poor, it was the same for both sides, and it is pretty rich for anyone from Luton to moan about another club’s facilities when their own home, Kenilworth Road, is 1) built in a housing estate, 2) only has 3 sides, 3) has catering that ranks the worst in the league, 4) makes losses in excess of 2 million a season, and 5) has an executive suite named after a failed national TV presenter (Nick Owen – although he is good on Midlands Today).
Luton is home to a club that has been chronically financially mismanaged for years. Mind you, you won’t hear Joe Kinnear complaining. He’s on a cool 200k basic salary at Luton with a 300k bonus if he keeps them up. How long can their board afford that? After all,

Bournemouth 2 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 10:51 am Monday 19 February 2001

Walsall manager Ray Graydon saluted keeper James Walker for two spectacular second-half saves which helped earn the second division promotion-chasers a crucial point at Dean Court.

Bournemouth raced into a two-goal half-time lead through Eddie Howe and Jermaine Defoe, but Walsall hit back through a Ronnie Ekelund penalty and a Darren Byfield header two minutes from time.

But it was Walker who was Graydon’s hero after denying Defoe midway through the second half soon after tipping over a 25-yard half-volley from Cherries midfielder Carl Fletcher.

Howe has been the subject of transfer speculation all week and was making his first appearance for Bournemouth after being withdrawn just minutes before the start of his side’s last match against Port Vale.

But he put all the rumours of a move to Burnley behind him by heading home a Claus Jorgensen corner after only five minutes.

And Defoe added to Howe’s first goal in more than a year by picking up a mis-hit Stephen Purches shot and shooting low inside Walker’s right-hand post from 20 yards.

But Defoe was denied in the second period by Walker who tipped the 18-year-old’s cross-shot around the post soon after denying Fletcher.

Graydon said: “James was fantastic in the second half and we are indebted to him for a point.”

“It didn’t look good for us at half time because Bournemouth pressurised us very well in the first half and made it very difficult for us to get the game to flow.”

“But we knew that if we could get a goal we would be back in the game and that’s how it proved.”

“Darren has now scored two headers in a week after scoring for the reserves a few days ago and it was great to see him put the ball in the back of the net at the end.”

“Jermaine Defoe is a great player and we knew all about him but couldn’t stop the goal.”

“It was a fantastic strike after some great movement and speed of foot.”

Bournemouth manager Sean O’Driscoll said: “My side were fantastic this afternoon and battled away very well.

“We were 2-0 up at half time, but Walsall are a side at the top of the table and we knew they would pose a lot of problems for us in the second half.”

“That’s how it proved and now we just have to look ahead to our game at Swindon on Tuesday night.”

  • RSS Message board

  • News items

  • Latest

  • UpTheSaddlers Tags