Archive for September, 2001

Walsall 0 Millwall 0

roger6 @ 12:38 am Saturday 29 September 2001

388 minutes since our last goal! But a precious point today at home to Millwall, 2nd division champions last season. And, by all accounts, enough chances to have won the game. A number of good crosses – particularly from Gadsby playing wing back – but no-one could finish. One man has shown in his career he can finish these sort of chances – time to bring back Brett Angell? Jorge hit a post in the second half. Meanwhile ominous news of our next opponents, Wimbledon. They went up to Man City today. The team that whipped us 3-0 midweek. Did Wimbledon put 8 men behind the ball and play for a point? Nope. They attacked. The result. They won 4-0. Reflections on the Millwall game:
Paul G – Very frustrating today. Enough chances were created to have won that. When will we ever score again? Not sure what Curtis is adding to the side. Chettle seemed to steady the ship at the back. Wrack was head and shoulders above everyone else again – nice to see the sponsors get one right. Herivelto playing in his third position of the season in centre of midfield. The tinkering with the side has not yet finished then.
Dave Gittins – Curtis played a good solid game in the centre of midfield today. Apart from a few misplaced passes, Bennett didn’t do too badly either. I was impressed with Chettle at the back. When is Ray going to play someone alongside the main striker up front though?

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Man City 3 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 12:39 am Thursday 27 September 2001

An unhappy debut for on-loan Steve Chettle as Walsall crashed to their 7th defeat in 8 at high-flying Man City. The 3-0 scoreline was as comprehensive as it suggests, with Chettle bringing down Paulo Wanchope for the third goal from the spot. It’s now more than 300 minutes since our last goal. Fullbrook Saddler gives his views on the game, and suggestions for Sir Ray for the Millwall game:
If we are going to play wing backs then Gadsby and Aranalde need to be dropped now. They both (in particular Zigor) lost their man when city attacked by constantly drifting inside and leaving the city wingers in acres. I say we play Herrivelto and Pedro in those positions. At least they will stick to the flanks (neither is bad defensively when tracking back) and give us more attacking options (Gadsby is useless going forward), as Wrack and Byfield clearly lacked service last night. Plus, both have got some pace.
I would also put Angell on the bench. In the games that Herri and Pedro have played, noone is latching onto the numerous crosses they both put in. Angell would thrive on them if we needed goals and Byfield/Jorge weren’t scoring. Incidentally, Jorge, when he came on, produced his best football for a long time – the hunger is back, so I would start with him against Millwall in this team:
Harper (better than Jimmy)
Brightwell Barras Chettle
Herrivelto Curtis Simpson Wrack(free role) Pedro
Byfield Leitao
Bench: Angell, Bennett, Walker, Zigor, Carlos
We need to stick to one formation (my suggestion above) and stop tinkering with it – this confuses players (although they won’t admit it).
And after our recent results, it will be hardcore true supporters only attending (those unable to attend excepted), so the atmosphere will be one of resolve/determination – this will be a help I think – no near capacity crowd full of blind expectation.

Walsall 0 Wolves 3

roger6 @ 12:39 am Sunday 23 September 2001

Fans have now had the weekend to reflect on the 3-0 mauling by Wolves at Bescot on Friday night. 3 goals conceded in the space of 6 first half minutes saw Walsall’s relegation position cemented, although Rotherham lost and Stockport could only pick up a point at home to Grimsby. Points made by several Saddlers fans as you can see below: 1) why did Sir Ray change Tuesday’s team when it did so well against Portsmouth, and 2) if the board are unwilling to sign players for transfer fees to stay in the division, what does that say about their ambition?
Paul G – Well done to Byfield who did OK on his own up front and to Wrack who continues to impress in midfield. The rest was pants and should be made to live and work in Wolverhmapton for the next week like I will have to.
Sheffield Saddler – we play Curtis a second division player who is not even fit, we loan a player who doesn’t even belong in this division, no better than what we already have thats for certain folks
Alan – I’ve never criticised Graydon before, but why oh why did he change from Tuesday’s formation? Tonight we were humiliated, it could have been 6 or 7 if they hadn’t taken their foot off the gas.
PT – What was so bad about the Pompey performance that Ray felt he had to not just tweak the side (e.g Curtis for Bennett) but wield an axe through it?
David Roe – We have (again) tried to stay in this division on the cheap. It didn’t work two years ago and it definately won’t work this year.
Ulster Saddler – If we get relegated but make a profit the Board will think we have had a successful year. If the board have any brains they should hold a crisis meeting first thing on Monday morning with one item on the agenda ie HOW ARE WE GOING TO TURN THIS AROUND BEFORE ITS TOO LATE.

Walsall 0 Portsmouth 0

roger6 @ 12:39 am Wednesday 19 September 2001

A good point for Walsall last night in a 0-0 draw with Portsmouth to stop the rot and halt a sequence of 5 successive defeats. With Stockport and Rotherham still firmly below us the coming weeks will see a determined effort by Sir Ray and the lads to climb out of the bottom 3. No coincidence I suggest that the return of Andy Tillson to defence resulted in a clean sheet…Match reaction from the message board and reports below.
Shaun – excellent football by the saddlers last night , must praise the whole team worked there socks off , if they can preform like that game after game we’ll do o.k . Bennett played his best game for along time along side Simpson (how many times have we said this is the best partnership) , my only gripe is that we didn’t test there keeper much as we had the lions share of possession , question ? why does Byfield have to turn 15 times on the edge of the box when a toe poke would do. Leitao looks half a yard short at this level but I’m not sure if Byfield is the answer why can’t he do more of what he did at Cardiff i.e turn and shoot

Burnley Reflections

roger6 @ 12:40 am Saturday 15 September 2001

The Saddlers crashed to their fifth successive defeat at Burnley, as the defence went AWOL after we clawed it back to 2-2.
Walsall are now in the relegation position of 22nd – and fans are wondering whether the board’s inability to spend any of the £3 million gained from TV money in transfer fees is going, once again, to see us straight back down to the 2nd division. So, to remind them what it looks like – we have found a picture of a cheque book!

Hull Saddler offers his reflections on the Burnley game:
I feel that playing 5 in midfield holds out hope for the season. Going forward on tuesday and today we always looked dangerous and with a bit of luck we should have scored 4 or 5 against Burnley. You cannot legislate for the 2nd goal we conceded, it was so depressing as Jimmy had just made a world class save. As for the last one what was Erivelto doing losing the ball like that, I’m sure Jimmy never expected the lob that came. However I thought that the midfield linked up really well, players seemed to be able to move forward quickly to link up and support in attacks. I thought that darren wrack was a revelation as compared to the times that I saw him last season. He seems to be regaining the confidence that he had in our previous promotion season. I think that playing him in the centre of midfield is something that should be perserved with. Also i think he should be taken off transfer list (if still on it). It was a superbly taken goal which I think will do wonders for him. I’m not so sure, though, that Jorge suits this system, as he seems to prefer laying the ball off to another attacking partner, though I thought that he was better in the 2nd half. I was a bit disappointed in him as either he has lost a bit of sparkle or he does not stand out against 1st div defences in the way that he did last year.
Is Carbon going to be available soon because at times our back 4 seemed to lack total awareness of Burnley’s positional play.
I know that we are in a depressing situation in the league but I hope that Ray will continue with the current tactics for a while as i think that if we can reproduce the positive aspects of our play that I have seen this week then we can beat enough teams to stay up. Am starting to think that William Hill’s knew what they were doing with my 150-1 each way bet on us.

Bolton 4 Walsall 3

roger6 @ 12:40 am Thursday 13 September 2001

Premiership leaders Bolton Wanderers breathed a sigh of relief after clinching a dramatic extra-time winner over plucky Walsall. The Nationwide Division One side looked to have won the game when two goals in the last seven minutes pulled them back from 2-1 down.
But Akinori Nishizawa hit an injury-time equaliser for Wanderers to force the game into extra-time.
Danish striker Henrik Pedersen put Wanderers ahead but when Scottish international Colin Hendry was sent off after bringing down Darren Byfield in a goalscoring position, the home keeper, Steve Banks, proved the hero when he saved Tony Barras’ 99th minute penalty.
Walsall started well and when Pedro Matias went down the left flank he cut the ball back to Matthew Gadsby whose shot flew just over the bar.
Nishizawa’s first contribution was a neat turn that foxed Matias but his follow-up shot was not executed quite as well, the ball flying well wide.
His next touch, however, could have provided the opening goal as he squared the ball inside to Dean Holdsworth but he was blocked by the retreating defence.
Darren Wrack’s run down the left suddenly gave Walsall a glimpse of a goal but as he tried to tee-up Jorge Leitao, Ian Marshall managed to clear the ball for a corner.
Nishizawa, however, was determined to mark his first match and he forced Lee Harper to make the first save of the game, directing a 12-yard header at goal.
The first division club should have gone ahead when Erivelto fired in a shot that Banks could only parry but Leitao only succeeded in putting his header wide.
Five minutes before half time Walsall again had Wanderers in trouble, this time Erivelto firing across the face of goal.
Walsall kept up their attacking ideas at the start of the second half forcing a corner in the opening minute and Marshall was relieved to head clear with Fitzroy Simpson menacing.
Wanderers finally produced a move that unsettled the Walsall defence with cross-shots being headed off the line.
Dean Holden caused panic with a shot from the edge of the area when Harper failed to hold the ball but with Holdsworth and Nishizawa waiting to pounce a relieved defence managed to clear the danger.
Walsall quickly countered that with a thundering 25-yard shot from Wrack that just clipped the outside of the post as it flew past Banks.
However, the game finally burst into life with two goals in two minutes. Walsall deservedly got the first in the 65th minute, Matias firing in a shot that Banks could only knock towards the unmarked Wrack who was left with an easy tap-in from a yard out.
The Saddlers’ celebrations were hardly underway before Bolton grabbed the equaliser in the 67th minute.
Holdsworth set up the chance when he raced through to set up a one-on-one challenge with keeper Harper. He managed to block the effort but the ball span to Wanderers leading scoring and former Walsall player Michael Ricketts, who fired the ball home from 12 yards.
The Walsall keeper was injured in the challenge and was stretchered off leaving James Walker to take over in goal and he did not have long to wait before he was called into the action to tip Nishizawa’s header over the bar.
But Wanderers were finally rewarded when Holdsworth fired them into the lead in the 79th minute only for Walsall to hit back with two goals in the closing seven minutes.
And it was the sub Byfield who caused all the problems for the Premiership outfit.
First his glancing header evaded Banks to make the scores level in the 83rd minute and two minutes later his cross found Barras perfectly placed to head in what looked like the winner before Nishizawa’s late equaliser.
Pedersen put Wanderers ahead in the 96th minute but all the drama came two minutes later when Hendry brought down Byfield in a goalscoring position.
Hendry was red-carded for the challenge but Banks saved the situation when he pushed Barras’ 99th minute penalty round the post

Crewe Inquest Begins

roger6 @ 12:41 am Sunday 09 September 2001

The optimism has now well and truly evaporated. In the wake of Walsall’s third consecutive 2-1 league defeat, this time at struggling Crewe, Saddlers fans are now posing a series of questions for the board/team:
- are we witnessing a re-run of 1999-2000, when the board were urged to spend cash but resorted only to the loan/free players market?
- will Sir Ray find the players to strengthen the midfield – where captain Bennett (taken off again yesterday) is evidently struggling
- despite the five strikers on our books, can any of them show the clinical finishing necessary at the higher level
Yesterday’s game at Crewe saw a lot of pretty passing from Walsall, but it petered out on the edge of the opposition area. Simpson’s 30 yard thunderbolt gave the travelling army a massive boost, but defensive lapses had preceded it, and the doubts are beginning to sink in. We know the players are committed to trying first division football – are the board prepared to back this now by using any of the £3million plus about to be banked from the ITV TV money…

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