Archive for September, 2003

Walsall 2 Gillingham 1

roger6 @ 12:00 pm Monday 29 September 2003

Walsall held on for a lucky victory over Gillingham today thanks to player manager Andy Hessenthaler’s unfortunate own goal.
The Saddlers dominated the first half and Paul Merson chipped wide before firing straight at keeper Bertrand Bossu. Man of the Match Chris Baird then stung the keeper’s palms with a rasping volley. Lee’s men at last broke through with a stunning strike from Pedro Matias. He fired home right-footed from 25 yards after a knockdown from Jamie Lawrence.
Gillingham equalised three minutes into the second half with their first real attack of the match. Vinny Samways was harshly adjudged to have handled a cross from David Perpetuini. Danny Spiller just beat Jimmy Walker from the spot.
Walsall had lost their way after an impressive first half and the Gills had a goal disallowed soon after when Chris Hope’s header was ruled out for a push on Leitao.
Lee chose to leave Birch and Burton on the bench, sending on right back Bazeley for left winger Matias. It looked like two points lost until the own goal with six minutes to go. Gary O’Neil’s corner was cleared as far as Baird, whose mis-hit volley struck Hessenthaler and deflected in. Jimmy Walker denied Tommy Johnson with a great save low to his left late on to clinch the three points.

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Walsall 2 Preston 1

roger6 @ 12:01 pm Saturday 27 September 2003

League win number two arrived for Walsall today – but as usual the Saddlers made life hard for themselves.
New loan signings Chris Baird and Gary O’Neil both impressed on their debuts, and it was O’Neil who almost opened the scoring in the first half with a rasping drive from distance which cannoned off the inside of the post and away. Jorge Leitao fired over when he latched onto a short back-header from Chris Lucketti and Jamie Lawrence was thwarted from six yards out.
The breakthrough came five minutes into the second half when Lawrence headed a free kick from Merson goalwards and Neil Emblen grabbed his first Walsall goal, turning the ball in from close range. Ten minutes later, Baird was brought down on the edge of the area and Vinny Samways fired in an exquisite free kick to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later Preston pulled a goal back, with Ricardo Fuller firing the ball in through a crowded goal mouth. The Saddlers then sat back and defended for the last half hour with Preston spurning numerous chances to equalise. The Saddlers needed to kill the game off but Colin Lee decided to replace goalscorer Samways with little Simon Osborn, before bringing on Gary Birch (in place of Leitao) at left back and then with minutes remaining, Deon Burton replaced Merse. Thankfully the Saddlers held on and will be looking to build on the victory against Gillingham in two days time.

Young Stars Saddle Up

roger6 @ 12:01 pm Friday 26 September 2003

There is a real buzz around Bescot ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Preston after the club confirmed the signings of two of the brightest young players around.
This morning, 21 year old defender Chris Baird signed from Premiership Southampton on a one month loan. Baird can also play in midfield but, as a specialist right back, is expected to take the place of Darren Bazeley tomorrow. Bazeley impressed many last season with his consistent performances at the back but has yet to find his form this season. “Chris is a young lad who comes here with a glowing reference from Southampton. They have high hopes for him and he is now starting to establish himself on the full international scene. He is a determined lad who is desperate to make his mark in the game and will be looking to gain valuable experience while he is with us.” said Colin Lee. Baird has yet to feature for the Saints this season but has figured for Northern Ireland against the likes of Ukraine and Armenia.
Gary O’Neil is the fourth member of last season’s promotion winning Portsmouth side to end up at Bescot, following in the footsteps of the two Pauls – Merson and Ritchie – and Deon Burton. O’Neil was expected to sign for Rotherham United today – the Millers had even ordered his kit and allocated a squad number to the England under 21 star – after a move to Stoke was blocked by Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric, still smarting from City boss Tony Pulis’ departure from Fratton Park. The Rotherham Official site states that “The management duo of Ronnie Moore and John Breckin are extremely disappointed in this dramatic turnaround as they felt they had got their man.” O’Neil has already appeared 81 times for Pompey but has lost his place to Czech star Patrick Berger after an injury last season.

Bolton 3 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 12:02 pm Wednesday 24 September 2003

Walsall crashed out of the Carling Cup after a 1-3 defeat at Bolton this evening. Brazilian debutant Mario Jardel proved the match winner in front of only 5000 people at the Reebok Stadium. Jardel’s headed after 14 minutes gave the Trotters a half time lead. Kevin Nolan added a second on 69 before Paul Merson converted a left wing cross from Gary Birch to reduce the arrears. However when Paul Ritchie handled in the area, Jardel sealed the win, converting the rebound after Jimmy Walker had brilliantly saved his spot kick. Youngster Matty Fryatt was given his first team debut late on but was unable to save the Saddlers from a fourth successive defeat.

Millwall 2 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 12:02 pm Saturday 20 September 2003

Walsall slipped to their third defeat in a week and have now slipped 21 places in the table since our last victory. Steve Corica had given the Saddlers an early lead but the Lions came back and won the game with eleven minutes to go thanks to Neil Harris’ controversial twice taken penalty.
With skipper Paul Merson missing with an ankle injury, boss Colin Lee reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, with Gary Birch and Steve Corica on the wings and Deon Burton partnering Jorge Leitao up front.
The Saddlers took the lead on 6 minutes after Deon Burton was hauled down inside the area. He had beaten the offside trap after latching onto a through ball by Corica, only to be fouled by Tony Warner, who escaped with only a booking. The Aussie confidently converted the penalty, sending it into the top corner.
The lead lasted only ten minutes however, as Darren Ward rose to head home a Dennis Wise free kick and make the score 1-1.
Walsall lost Darren Wrack and Danny Hay to injury and rarely threatened to score. In fact, Lee signalled his intentions by replacing an ineffective Leitao with defender Emblen, leaving youngster Matty Fryatt – surely far more hungry than Leitao – on the bench.
The Saddlers failed to pick up that point though, as the Lions secured a deserved victory in the 79th minute. Just moments after replacing the injured Hay, Stefan Oakes was harshly adjudged to have fouled Paul Ifill in the area. Harris netted from twelve yards but was made to retake the penalty after encroachment by home players. Again he made no mistake and another dour display left Walsall heading home pointless.

Ipswich 2 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 12:03 pm Tuesday 16 September 2003

Walsall lost to the First Division basement boys for the second time in four days after a 1-2 defeat at Ipswich tonight. Goals from Alun Armstrong and Darren Bent – either side of Gary Birch’s first goal of the season – gave Joe Royle’s Town side their first win of the season.
Colin Lee made three changes after Saturday’s defeat to Junior’s Derby County. Jorge Leitao and Jamie Lawrence were dropped to the bench whilst new boy Deon Burton was left out of the squad, presumed injured. Steve Corica, Vinny Samways and Birch came into the side.
It was a mistake from one of these players that led to Ipswich taking a 13th minute lead. Corica’s short back pass was intercepted by Darren Bent, who was then brought down by Jimmy Walker. Armstrong sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.
Paul Merson and Samways both had efforts from distance before a set piece from the latter set up Birch to equalise. The young striker headed in powerfully from six yards after 29 minutes.
Bent had already tested Walker with a header and a volley before snatching what proved to be the winner as he got his head onto a 67th minute right wing cross from Fabian Wilnis to make it 2-1. The goal came whilst Birch was off the pitch, receiving treatment to a head wound sustaining after a collision with Diallo moments earlier.
Leitao and Lawrence were sent on in search of an equaliser but Counago almost made it 3-1 in injury time when put clean through, but man of the match Walker superbly denied the Spaniard.

Judas – who else?

roger6 @ 12:03 pm Saturday 13 September 2003

Walsall slipped to their first home defeat of the season after a dismal display against Derby today. The First Division basement boys took all three points thanks to Brazilian striker Junior’s 80th minute strike.
Deon Burton made his Walsall debut after signing on loan from Portsmouth and Jamie Lawrence – back from injury – made his first start of the season. Zigor Aranalde and Vinny Samways were suspended and Steve Corica was dropped. Derby began with Judas up front against his former club and the striker was booed and jeered throughout. Judas began brightly and headed a sixth minute cross against a post when he should have scored, before curling in a free kick which Jimmy Walker tipped over. Burton fired Walsall’s only first half chance over the bar.
Paul Merson was not having one of his better games and many of his passes failed to find their intended destinations. One cross however, at the start of the second half, fell to Jorge Leitao and his header was somehow clawed behind by Andy Oakes. Darren Wrack then fired in a left footed screamer which Oakes tipped over. Chances were few and far between, Walsall’s only other effort coming from a Merson free kick which the captain flicked up and fired disappointingly into the wall.
Former strikers always score against their former clubs and today was no exception. Unfortunately for Walsall, it was Junior and not Deon Burton who netted the winner. Last season’s top scorer swivelled inside the area to fire, left footed, past Jimmy Walker with ten minutes remaining. Colin Lee brought on Stefan Oakes, Pedro Matias and eventually Neil Emblen, reverting from 352 to 442 but, in truth, Walsall never really looked like scoring against a side who had previously collected just one point this season.

Burton deal confirmed

roger6 @ 12:04 pm Friday 12 September 2003

Jamaican international Deon Burton has today been confirmed as a Walsall player. Rumours surfaced last night that the 26 year old Portsmouth player would be joining the Saddlers and he has today signed a one month loan. He will go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s match against Derby County, for whom he joined in 1997 in a £1 million deal. “Deon is a player who has plenty of experience at this level and above.” said boss Colin Lee. “He is always looking to score goals and not only that, he is also very adept at holding the ball up and bringing others into play. Hopefully it will work out well and develop into a longer deal.”

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