Archive for March, 2001

Wycombe Slaughtered

roger6 @ 10:47 am Sunday 25 March 2001

With the foot and mouth disease rampant, those on the message board giving Sir Ray his most serious slating since he took over 3 years ago had their words rammelled down their throat on Saturday as the team carcassed FA Cup semi-finalists Wycombe 5-1 at Bescot.

A Pedro Matias hat-trick was the highlight of the performance, witnessed by 4,500 fans who ignored the appeal of a small World Cup qualifier featuring Finland. As it turned out – the Saddlers supporters enjoyed much the better game…

Good reviews for Don Goodman, the controversial deadline day signing – who deserved a goal. More mixed comments about Barry Horne. The performance was so convincing that the critics could only fault Sir Ray’s decision to take the key players off at 5-1 with 10 minutes to go when more goals were beckoning…

The result keeps us looking good for the play-offs, with a very outside chance of 2nd spot. With only 3 home games left, a win over Millwall on Saturday is vital – anything less and a trip to Cardiff will have to be the only viable hope.

Player ratings:
Walker – 6; Brightwell – 7, Barras – 7, Tillson – 7, Aranalde – ;Bukran – 6, Keates – 7, Hall – 8, Matias – 9; Goodman – 7, Leitao – 7. Subs: Horne(71 for Bukran), Angell(83 for Matias), Simpson(75 for Goodman)
Match stats: Saddlers: 17 goal attemps, 11 on target, 12 corners.

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Goodman Signs

roger6 @ 10:47 am Wednesday 21 March 2001

Walsall have signed 34-year-old striker Don Goodman from Motherwell. Goodman scored 8 goals in 31 appearances for the Scottish outfit.
The news hasn’t met with universal acclaim from Saddlers fans – if the message board on this site is anything to go by. Whilst there is no denying Sir Ray and Paul Taylor have had their successes in squeezing life out of older players (Rambo Rammell), and reports from Motherwell suggest Don is a massive trier – it is the nature of the deal that undermines fans’ confidence. Don clearly wasn’t first choice – Claridge, Lightbourne and Cramb were all explored as options.

Walsall 0 Colchester 1

roger6 @ 10:48 am Monday 12 March 2001

Saddlers fans, buoyed by the win at Bristol City midweek, were brought cruelly down to earth as Sir Ray’s side demonstrated the irritating inconsistency that has seen 5 league defeats in 13 outings since New Year.

Barry Conlon got the winner after 56 minutes, after Ray had abandoned the 5-3-2 first half formation in favour of the more traditional 4-4-2.

A lot of fans seem to have given up hopes of automatic promotion now – given that Rotherham and Millwall are at least 5 points clear with games in hand. Are the playoffs and a possible trip to Cardiff the best we can hope for? A shame considering the optimism of early season form…

Bristol City 1 Walsall 3

roger6 @ 10:48 am Wednesday 07 March 2001

Only Walsall’s 2nd win away in 13 games – but what a performance from the Saddlers last night, as Sir Ray changed the formation to 5-3-2 and dished out a West Country hammering.

The Berwick Saddlers was there to see it: this is his report:

The players seemed far more up for it to me. Perhaps player
power resulted in the new formation. The defence did OK but
still seem prone to stupid errors. Zigor, Brightwell and
Marsh all played well (IB IS capable of attacking). Benno
played better than at County. Jorge was my MOM, Byfield
found himself in some excellent positions only to be let
down bt a poor first touch, his head is about two-steps
ahead, nedds to concentrate a little more. We dominated for
30 mins and looked as though we would get a hatful.
Travelling back to Berwick on T took me nearly 8 1/2 hours.
I am well knackered, but really don’t mind when the team
give it their all. £100 well spent!!

Notts Couny 2 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 10:49 am Monday 05 March 2001

This was another result to prove yet again the old adage that you will get nothing out of a game of football if you cannot take your chances.

The longer this game went, the more dominant became Walsall, but in the end, despite forcing Notts to defend furiously, they had nothing to show for it.

This seems an odd reflection, bearing in mind that when the teams clashed earlier in the season, Walsall, then so rampant, put five goals past County.

Considerable credit for this clean sheet – their fifth in the last seven league matches – belongs to the County back four and to goalkeeper Darren Ward, who was right on top of his game, notably when he clawed round his near upright a 67th minute effort by Darren Byfield, Walsall’s best player.

With far fewer chances, Notts gained three points because of their more decisive finishing.

Sean Farrell hit the first after 38 minutes. Accepting a defence-splitting pass from Danny Allsopp, he got the better of central defender Tony Barras and, spotting goalkeeper James Farrell off his line, chipped him delightfully for a goal sweet both in its creation and its conversion.

Notts made hard work of it after that, though, only Walker – who used to be with Notts – denied the home side a second goal when he brilliantly turned over a 25-yard free-kick well struck by the Notts skipper Gary Owers.

Walker was left helpless when Notts doubled their lead in injury time to put a rather flattering complexion on the scoreline.

Substitute Andy Hughes battled well down the right-hand touchline and got the better of Zigor Aranalde before sweeping the ball into the path of Allsopp who, from two yards, could scarcely miss the tap-in chance.

That second goal relieved the Meadow Lane pressure on a day when the home supporters saw a satisfactory midfield debut from former England man, Geoff Thomas, signed during the week from Barnsley.

It was a puzzle why Walsall left striker Brett Angell on the bench until the hour mark. He would surely have relished 90 minutes against Notts with whom he was on loan last season and who found him a handful.

Jocky Scott, the Notts manager, said afterwards that it had been a great win against one of the top six clubs, coming just a few days before Notts take on Wigan, who are also in the leading pack.

Simpson swoop

roger6 @ 10:49 am Friday 02 March 2001

31 year old midfielder Fitzroy Simpson, who has been playing in the Hearts reserves, has signed for the Saddlers today in a 3 month loan deal.

Fitzroy is obviously well known to one member of the squad – Paul Hall – who he has played with for both Portsmouth and Jamaica. Following the connection between Pedro Matias and Zigor Aranalde – who both played for the same Spanish club – perhaps our next signing can be predicted by looking at country-mates or former colleagues of existing squad members.

Saddlers Director of Football, Paul Taylor was pleased with his efforts to get his man after protracted efforts to bolster Walsall’s promotion bid:

“We have been working very hard to introduce new players, but it has not been easy. Two deals with Premier League Clubs have fallen through, not for financial reasons, but because players have not been prepared to move down two divisions.”

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