A depressing way to end the year at Bescot as Walsall went down 3-0 to a Watford team riding high – now seven games without defeat for the Hornets. Listening to the commentary via WM the Saddlers seemed toothless in attack, having been upset early on in losing Ian Roper with a facial injury. Jimmy Walker, superb in recent games particularly against Crewe, was at fault for the second goal. Teamtalk seemed to sum up the display pretty well: “Overall Graydon’s men were defensively poor, gave the ball away far too easily and lacked Watford’s cutting edge in front of goal”.
Archive for December, 2001
A Boxing Day dogfight at the Bescot saw the Saddlers triumphant, deservedly taking three points from old foes Crewe. Jimmy Walker made some fine saves to prevent the railwaymen from getting back into the game, but Freddy Biancalani continued his impressive run in the side whilst at the back Matt Carbon and Ian Roper looked as solid as any pairing this season. Views from the fans below:
Dave Gittins – A very comfortable 1st half and a deserved 2-0 half time lead, looked very confident second half until Rodney Jack scored for Crewe (admittedly a very well worked goal) then it was backs to the wall defending. The chances we had towards the end of the game we insisted on trying to walk in to the net.
PT – Quick word on Bennett – I was hard on Bennett at the start of the season but the last couple of months he has been playing out of his skin and really leading from the front and by example. Having become a father myself over recent weeks I can sympathise with that vacant/where the F am I?/Jesus I’m tired, look that he had for a month at the start of the year.
A post-Christmas exclusive from Bescot today, with the news via the official website of a signing. 30-year-old Portugese midfielder Carlos Andre has joined on loan for the rest of the season. Very little is known about the lad, other than the fact he impressed Paul Taylor during a recent trial. Butt the same could be said for eight other players who have joined in recent months, not many of whom have made the first team. International clearance is being sought, to try and get him into the squad for the Watford game. Sir Ray is thought to be sticking with the same side who beat Crewe on Boxing Day.
Just when we thought the corner was being turned, a result in from the Bescot to sink Saddlers’ hearts – Walsall defeated 2-1 by Sheffield United after two defensive errors, first by Zigor, then, for the second game running by Tony Barras. Darren Wrack had opened the scoring on 21 minutes, but two goals in 2 minutes from United, the second resulting in Ian Roper being sent off, ultimately proved decisive. Even so, Jorge Leitao had two great efforts to get a point – first when his shot was superbly saved by Tracey, and then an overhead kick that sailed over the bar.
A better away performance than of late, but still no points from our latest trip out of Bescot – this time going down 1-0 to Birmingham in a bad-tempered local derby. Darren Purse got the controversial winner after twelve minutes, converting a penalty at the second attempt after Jimmy Walker had saved Marcelo’s first effort, only for the ref to order a retake for encroachment.
Matt Carbon got his marching orders late in the second half after receiving a second caution for throwing the ball at Geoff Horsfield.
The next site update will be on Boxing Day after the Crewe game – so to all the loyal visitors to upthesaddlers.com, a very Happy Christmas, and let’s hope Santa brings Sir Ray and his men six points from Crewe and Watford in front of packed houses at Bescot.
It may be a brief respite, it may have been against the weakest side to visit Bescot this season, but no-one can begrudge the Saddlers a weekend to remember after a 4-0 victory over Grimsby on Saturday ended a run of five games without a win. Brett Angell was the star of the show – making three goals and scoring the other with a twenty yard lob. Reflections from the Walsall fans:
Neil Ravenscroft – Graydon always picks horses for courses – he took one look at the size of their back line and Angel was a must. Shows what sort of managers we would make, though, as everyone round me was calling for Jorge to be brought on for Brett when he promptly scored the goal of the season and made two more. Biancalani didnt look oout of place, great to have Brightwell back, Ropes and Carbon solid, Wrack had a better second half Heri looked good (still a bit of a luxury player, though).
Fed up – This ones for all the married guys on this site. After finally escaping my wife (were you going, xmas shopping, leave it all to me each year ect.), went to the match. Now I never leave before the end, but my phone went about five minutes before the end, “you on the way home yet, you sort the kids out, fighting all afternoon”, so like the real man I am made my way back to the car before the final whistle. before I reached Bescot Crescent, bleep went my text, 3-0, , halfway down Delves, bleep, 4-0.
Geordie Saddler – Take it all back about the season ticket – worth 200 smackers just for Brett’s lob(s). Only kidding, mind you if this continues then Sir Ray could be getting used to the taste of humble pie. Already we’ve seen Wrack come off the list, now “Brett does not and will not figure in my plans” Angell, has three goals in seven starts, and must surely get in the side in front of Jorge. I don’t mean that as an insult to Jorge, but all of his best efforts this term have been from the bench, also what a great performance from Roper. Just hope that this win against an awfull side doesn’t get used to paper over the cracks.
The spirits of Walsall fans everywhere sunk even lower on Saturday after crashing to a predictable 4-1 defeat at resurgent Barnsley. Those optimistically expecting the Saddlers to add to their five-point away tally this season were quiet after just 40 minutes, by which time the Tykes were 2-0 up.
A spectacular strike by Zigor Aranalde minutes after coming on from the bench breathed brief hope, only to be extinguished by further strikes from Donovan and the outstanding Mike Sheron.
After the game “defensive” coach Chris Nicholl pointed again to individual mistakes at the back “costing us”, saying the Saddlers went into self-destruct mode. Meanwhile, the real analysis is taking place on this site’s message board, with the message firmly going out to Paul Taylor – let’s spend this money we’ve supposedly got to spend on transfer fees, and fast!
The next player to come to Bescot will be the 99th piece of transfer business conducted by the Sir Ray / Paul Taylor combination in just over three years, according to new figures compiled exclusively for upthesaddlers.com.
Since Sir Ray has been manager, with Paul Taylor in the Director of Football role, Walsall have:
- signed twenty eight players on contract
- transferred twenty six players out
- made eighteen loan signings
- loaned thirteen players out
- released thirteen players
Since June 2001 Walsall have made eight contract signings, with one of those, Dino Mennillo, already having left the club. Of the eight signed, none has been a first team regular this season. Of the eight signed during the 2000-2001 promotion season, five became first team regulars.
Although mystery surrounds the actual transfer fee received for Michael Ricketts, a rough estimate suggests during the three years Walsall’s transfer income (Â£830,000) is more than four times greater than expenditure on transfer fees (Â£190,000).
All too predictable. A negative and uninspired performance by Sir Ray’s men today, another away day slump, as Rotherham easily collected three points. Despite a relatively solid display by centre back pairing Roper and Barras, there was almost nothing from Walsall going forward, and with tougher places to visit, Saddlers fans hoping for am improvement on an away-day return of just five points this season look like being disappointed for some weeks to come. Reinforcements needed!