Archive for December, 2003

Walsall 1 Reading 1

roger6 @ 11:47 am Sunday 28 December 2003

Walsall failed to capitalise on their first half dominance today and Nicky Shorey’s 72nd minute free kick cancelled out Jorge Leitao’s opener as the Saddlers held on for a point against Reading.
There was only a place on the bench for Paul Merson as manager Colin Lee decided to keep faith with the eleven who beat Cardiff on Boxing Day. Jamie Vincent returned to the sixteen after injury whilst Danny Hay appeared in a Walsall squad for the last time before his departure in the New Year.
Walsall dominated the first half in terms of possession and Jorge Leitao gave them a deserved lead after half an hour, rising to power home Simon Osborn’s corner. Moments later he almost made it two, but former Saddlers trialist Marcus Hahnemann turned his powerful header aside. Substitute Scott Murray then thought he’d equalised but his header was ruled out for offside.
Reading came out strongly after the break and kept Lee’s men pressed in their own half. Walker superbly denied Murray from close range before turning aside a shot from Nicky Forster. The Royals’ constant pressure at last paid off with twenty minutes to go. Roper was cautioned after halting the flying Murray and Shorey stepped up to curl home left footed from twenty yards. Reading thought they had snatched all three points after eighty minutes but Forster’s header was again disallowed for offside.


Cardiff 0 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 11:47 am Friday 26 December 2003

Neil Emblen grabbed a vital victory for Walsall as his 70th minute strike inflicted Cardiff’s first home defeat on Boxing Day for seventy years.
Emblen came into the starting line up in midfield in place of Paul Merson who didn’t travel to Wales. Stefan Oakes and Jamie Lawrence – back from his loan at Wigan – were recalled to the bench.
Walsall began strongly and forced several corners early on before Emblen’s goal bound effort after ten minutes was blocked by Tony Vidmar. Despite their dominance, Walsall’s only other chance fell to Darren Wrack but his header was stopped at point blank range by Martyn Margetson. Peter Thorne came closest for the Bluebirds however his header drifted just wide.
Emblen then grabbed the winner with twenty minutes remaining as he bundled in Zigor Aranalde’s left wing cross. Robert Earnshaw struck the inside of the post and Spencer Prior’s late strike was disallowed for a foul on keeper Jimmy Walker as Walsall held on to temporarily move into the top half of the table.

Hay Quits Bescot

roger6 @ 11:48 am Tuesday 23 December 2003

Saddlers’ defender Danny Hay will leave Bescot next week and return to his native New Zealand ‘for personal reasons’. The 28 year old has made 51 appearances for Walsall in the 18 months since he joined from Leeds and manager Colin Lee said “Having spoken to Danny at length it was felt there was no other option than to allow him to return to New Zealand. He will be a big loss to us, he’s a talented player and a nice lad. And although he has not been a regular in the starting line-up, he’s been a vital member of the first-team squad.”

Walsall 1 West Ham 1

roger6 @ 11:49 am Saturday 20 December 2003

Jorge Leitao’s 69th minute equaliser cancelled out Marlon Harewood’s early opener and earned Walsall a point against ten men West Ham at Bescot this afternoon.
The Hammers began with Harewood, Jermaine Defoe and David Connolly all up front but that lasted only six minutes as the hot headed Defoe lashed out at Ian Roper and was dismissed despite failing to make contact with the Saddlers’ defender.
Alan Pardew’s men took the lead minutes later as Saddlers’ skipper Paul Merson lost the ball in his own half and Matthew Etherington crossed for Harewood to fire home via the post.
Jimmy Walker then pulled off a fabulous one handed stop to deny Connolly as West Ham dominated the opening 45 minutes. With Merson stuck out on the right wing, Walsall’s best chances fell to Birch and Wrack whose shots from distance failed to find the net. Walsall beat off several clubs to sign Merse but have so far failed to consistently play him in the midfield role that he craves…
The enigmatic skipper should then have equalised at the start of the second half after latching onto Ian Pearce’s misplaced header inside the area, but he fired wide with the outside of his right boot with just David James to beat.
Walsall were a different team after half time and an equaliser seemed just around the corner. Gary Birch put the ball into the net after 57 minutes only to see it – seemingly wrongly – disallowed for offside despite it coming last off a home defender.
Then with twenty minutes to go, Samways’ floated cross was headed across goal by Darren Wrack and turned in by the outstretched boot of Jorge Leitao, his fourth goal of the season.

The Next Wayne Rooney?

roger6 @ 11:48 am Saturday 20 December 2003

Young Saddlers striker Matty Fryatt earned rave reviews after his debut for Football League basement boys Carlisle United today. The 17 year old starred for the Cumbrians as they beat Torquay 2-0 today and delighted manager Paul Simpson said “Young Fryatt did very well today. We had to throw them (Fryatt and fellow new signing Andy Preece) in and I’m pleased it worked.”
Carlisle fans bombarded message boards in praise of the youngster;
“Thought Fryatt was unlucky not to get MOtM, although the goal just shaded it for Preece. I hope Walsall don’t want Fryatt back too soon…That lad is the next Wayne Rooney! Perhaps not but he was brilliant today. Forward thinking is the best way to describe him which is what we’ve been lacking and he didn’t look 17 or inexperienced. Lets hope he stays forever…Fryatt also looked excellent, although the conditions today were atrocious he
showed great pace and a willingness to run himself into the ground for the cause. Just what we need…”

Loan due set for Carlisle

roger6 @ 11:49 am Thursday 18 December 2003

Young striker Matty Fryatt has signed for Third Division strugglers Carlisle United on a month’s loan and could soon be joined by Stefan Oakes.
Fryatt, 17, will go straight into Carlisle’s squad for their match against Torquay. “I am looking forward to playing regular first-team football. It’s a long way from home and I know that the club are struggling at the bottom of the table, but I look upon it as a challenge and all part of the learning process. I want to play my part in helping lift the fortunes of the club, make a name for myself and prove to the people at Walsall that I am capable of doing a job at first-team level.” said the promising youngster.
Oakes – signed from Premiership Leicester in the summer – is still thinking over the move. However, Walsall bos Colin Lee is convinced the move would be in the midfielder’s best interests; “With no reserve team fixtures scheduled until well into the New Year, it would be beneficial for Stefan to go out and play regularly over Christmas. He has been unlucky since he has been here and I would have thought the opportunity to play regular competitive matches would appeal to him.” said Lee.

Contact UptheSaddlers

roger6 @ 11:35 am Thursday 18 December 2003

UptheSaddlers will be pleased to help with any enquiry, including these common ones:

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To contact UptheSaddlers please send an email to Please include contact details and an idea of how urgent your enquiry is.

If your enquiry is for autographed footballs, player signatures, or anything to do directly with the club – you are best off contacting Walsall FC direct.

Wimbledon 0 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 11:50 am Saturday 13 December 2003

Neil Emblen bundled home a 72nd minute winner to hand the Saddlers only their second away win of the season in Milton Keynes today.
Without skipper Paul Merson due to illness, Jorge Leitao was recalled up front against a Wimbledon side minus the talents of young skipper Nigel Reo-Coker. Darren Wrack fired inches wide and Jamie Vincent then forced keeper Steve Banks into a save before being forced off by injury, as Walsall started strongly at the National Hockey Stadium. Gary Birch thought he had given Walsall the lead when he headed in a corner from close range but the goal was ruled out after Ian Roper was penalised for pushing. Jimmy Walker was then forced to palm away a Wayne Gray header as the teams went in level at half time.
Steve Corica became the second Saddler to be forced off by injury, when he was replaced by match-winner Emblen early in the second half and the Saddlers switched to 4-3-3. Soon after Dons’ striker Patrick Agyemang fired miserably wide from six yards when clean though and then Emblen put Walsall ahead; Vinny Samways’ long ball found Leitao on the byeline and his cross was knocked back by Gary Birch and bundled in by the substitute.
Leitao then put the ball in the net himself but this time it was ruled out for handball. Wimbledon pushed for an equaliser and Rob Gier somehow headed over from close range whilst Darren Bazeley hacked a corner from Adam Nowland off the line.

Blades 2 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 11:50 am Tuesday 09 December 2003

Walsall crashed 2-0 to Sheffield United at Brammall Lane tonight to leave the Saddlers with only one away victory to their name this season. Paul Peschisolido’s 41st minute strike gave the Blades a half time lead; he pounced when Jimmy Walker spilled a free kick from Alan Wright to fire home. Nick Montgomery doubled their advantage on 52, converting a cross from Michael Tonge. Colin Lee – who had recalled Vinny Samways in place of Tony Dinning – sent on Jorge Leitao as Walsall chased the game but Lee will have rued the chance missed by winger Darren Wrack with the score still at 0-1.

Walsall 1 Bradford City 0

roger6 @ 11:51 am Saturday 06 December 2003

Gary Birch grabbed all three points for Walsall as they beat Bradford 1-0 at Bescot today. The twenty-two year old’s fourth strike of the season decided a poor match in which the Saddlers were lucky avoid defeat after Bryan Robson’s met hit both post and bar.
Darren Bazeley and Paul Ritchie came in for Neil Emblen and Danny Hay respectively whilst Simon Osborn replaced Vinny Samways in midfield. Samways is rumoured to have returned late from his home in the Canary Islands and missed training on Thursday. There was a surprise place on the bench for Stefan Oakes.
Dean Windass fired a free kick just over the bar and Andy Gray was denied by a last ditch clearance from Bazeley as the Bantams dominated the first half. Osborn seemed unable to pass the ball, Merson to control it and Dinning was just plain anonymous. The Saddlers at last bucked up their ideas with half time approaching and Corica was denied by the outstretched leg of keeper Alan Combe after a powerful run. Referee Colin Webster then angered Saddlers players after failing to give a penalty when Birch was pushed to the ground by Paul Heckingbottom. The ref had earlier angered home fans by giving a free kick against Osborn for heading the ball (!?) and then failing to spot a handball by Windass.
Hesitancy between Walker and Ritchie almost gifted Bradford a goal at the start of the second half, but Windass fired into the side netting with the goal gaping. Corica fired over before Gavin headed against the bar for the visitors. Lee then sent on Leitao for Dinning and Walsall snatched the winner just minutes later, breaking away to devastating effect. Merson’s flick sent Wrack scampering forwards and he slid in Birch who smashed it past Combe for the winner. Lee sent on Emblen on the right wing for Birch and Aranalde replaced Corica as the Saddlers held on for all three points.

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