Archive for January, 2004

Stoke 3 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 10:10 am Saturday 31 January 2004

Walsall were denied a point at the Britannia Stadium after an 89th minute ‘equaliser’ was controversially disallowed for offside. Debutant Gary Wales met Zigor Aranalde’s left wing cross with a powerful header which was saved by keeper Neil Cutler. The ball looked set to trickle over the line but was given a helping hand by Jorge Leitao and the linesman’s flag was promptly raised.
With four first-team players suspended, Matt Carbon made his first start of the season and Kris Taylor was brought in for a debut in midfield. New signing Wales started on the bench.
Stoke took the lead after only nine minutes through Darel Russell. Gifton Noel-Williams ran at the away defence before laying the ball off to Russell, whose 25 yard drive was helped into the net by Aussie keeper Andy Petterson.
Four minutes later Walsall were level through Leitao; Taylor won the ball and gave it to Merson who exchanged passes with the returning Samways before crossing for Leitao to head home.
City regained the lead after 37 minutes when Kris Commons set us Carl Asaba who swept the ball past Petterson. Again the Saddlers equalised almost immediately as Gary Birch’s left wing cross was fired home by the impressive Taylor (42).
Eleven minutes into the second half, Stoke grabbed the winner – Asaba netting his second of the match.

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Samways Row Resolves

roger6 @ 10:11 am Friday 30 January 2004

Vinny Samways will remain a Saddler until the end of the season after sorting out his differences with manager Colin Lee. “The situation has been amicably resolved. Vinny and I have had long discussions over the past week. The upshot of those talks is that he will return to play for the club until the end of the season. He has apologised to me for his actions and would also like to do the same to the fans,” said Lee. Samways has consistently been one of the club’s best players this season and was sorely missed as the Saddlers were thumped 6-1 against Coventry.
Another of the club’s top performers – defender Paul Ritchie – has impressed Scotland coach Bertie Vogts and is set for a call up for the forthcoming friendly with Wales. Vogts said “I have been looking to strengthen my defence but did not know anything about Ritchie’s qualifications or career. No-one told me about him and it wasn’t until his name was mentioned a few weeks ago that I even knew he had scored for Scotland against the Czech Republic in 1999. I can’t understand how or why he was forgotten maybe it was because he was out injured for so long. But I immediately arranged to watch him in action against West Brom a fortnight ago and was very impressed. I will be calling him into the squad for the game with Wales and he has a great chance of being involved. He is strong, quick and very passionate and I like that in my players.” Ritchie has nine Scottish caps, the last of which came against Holland in 2000.
Finally, Colin Lee has hit out at Hearts after it appeared the Saddlers were losing the race to sign striker Gary Wales. “What’s preventing this happening at the moment is that we were told we would have to pay half his wages if we took him on. But he came down here on trial, people got wind of it, other clubs showed an interest and our gentlemen’s agreement seems no longer to be a gentlemen’s agreement. I find that very, very unacceptable because if you agree something then it’s done but unfortunately you come up against these things in football.” said Lee.

Walsall 1 Coventry 6

roger6 @ 10:11 am Saturday 17 January 2004

Walsall crashed to an embarrassing defeat at home to Coventry City today. Without Leitao and Walker (suspended), Ritchie (injured) and Samways (absent without leave), Stefan Oakes was given an (extremely rare) start and Kris Taylor and Mark Wright appeared on the bench. Zigor came in for Jamie Vincent, who incidentally took just fourteen minutes to open his Derby County goal scoring account.
After six minutes Joachim fired wide but somehow the referee – Lee Mason from Lancashire – managed to give City a corner and Morrell headed Warnock’s kick past debutant Andy Petterson to give Eric Black’s side the lead.
Davenport then headed against the bar before things went from bad to worse. Stefan Oakes has waited five months for a Walsall start – it lasted 37 minutes after he was sent off for a lunge at right back Whing.
Despite their shocking start, Walsall went in level at half time thanks to Darren Wrack’s 45th minute equaliser. He exchanged passes with Merson before curling past ex Saddler Gavin Ward from the edge of the box.
Walsall started the second half as they started the first and McSheffrey fired low past Petterson from twenty yards after 48 minutes. Morrell then headed his second from Joachim’s 57th minute cross before Joachim himself made it 4-1 in the 69th minute, bursting through the defence before firing past Petterson. Roper’s challenge then sent the ball trickling past Petterson for the fifth after 76 minutes and McSheffrey added a sixth with eight minutes remaining before hitting his 84 minute penalty against the post and spurning the opportunity of a hat trick.
Walsall’s worst home defeat for 15 years – reaction is literally flooding in with the message board packed with angry supporters. Confirmation also coming tonight that Samways is not returning to the club – he was in Spain today as the team he’s paid by were conceding six.

WBA 2 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 10:12 am Friday 09 January 2004

West Brom avenged their 4-1 thumping in front of the Sky cameras at the Hawthorns tonight. A deflected free kick from Jason Koumas and then a close range header from Geoff Horsefield condemned the Saddlers to a 2-0 defeat.
It could have been a different story if Darren Wrack hadn’t spurned a glorious chance after two minutes; Merse fed Jorge Leitao and his right wing cross picked out Wrack sliding in three yards out but somehow the winger failed to turn the ball in. Then on six minutes, Gary Birch met Merson’s cross with a powerful downward header which Hoult palmed away.
Walsall then got lucky when the ref chose to book Horsefield for diving in the area despite a blatant trip by Ropes. The Horse – clean through after intercepting a wayward Roper pass – was then brilliantly foiled by Walker as the teams went in level at half time.
The deadlock was broken after 62 minutes when Horsefield dived under pressure from Ritchie and Koumas’ low free kick deflected past Walker off Vinny Samways. West Brom rapped up victory eleven minutes later when young debutant Lloyd Dyer’s cross was knocked back by Dobie and headed in by Horsefield. Paul Ritchie – eager to impress watching Scotland boss Berti Vogts – then limped off after an ugly looking collision with Koumas, who was stretchered off.

Millwall 2 Walsall 1 – FA Cup

roger6 @ 10:12 am Saturday 03 January 2004

Walsall’s FA Cup run is already over after an eventful clash with Millwall at the New Den. Jorge Leitao had given the Saddlers a twelfth minute lead against their first division rivals, pouncing on a slip by Lions’ defender David Livermore to fire past Tony Warner from six yards. It was the Portuguese striker’s fiftieth goal for the club and his third in four games. Dennis Wise’s men pulled level against Merson-less Walsall after 33 minutes however, when youngster Kevin Braniff latched onto Neil Harris’s pass to fire past Jimmy Walker from fifteen yards. Then on the stroke of half time, Tim Cahill snatched what proved to be the goal that sent the Londoners into the fourth round of the competition. He climbed – literally – above full back Darren Bazeley to head home Wise’s right wing cross, much to the annoyance of Colin Lee’s players.
Millwall dominated the second half and hopes of a fight back were dashed after seventy minutes when Leitao was sent off for two bookable offences in quick succession. It came as no surprise that the fouls were on Kevin Muscat and Wise – no strangers to trouble themselves. Far more concerning was the loss of keeper Jimmy Walker in stoppage time; the Saddlers’ acting skipper raced into the Millwall half to remonstrate with the referee after an injury to striker Gary Birch. However when Wise became involved, Wacker raised his arms to push away the home manager and was promptly dismissed. Neil Emblen donned the goalkeeper’s top – albeit without the gloves – for the final minute or so and Lee will hope that goalkeeper Shaun Allaway’s back injury is fully cured ahead of Walker’s pending suspension. Walsall are no strangers when it comes to trouble at MIllwall – defender Paul Ritchie was dismissed last time around, also a 2-1 defeat.
There was better news elsewhere for Walsall fans as Matty Fryatt grabbed his first professional goal for Carlisle against Boston and Craig Stanley netted for Raith Rovers. However, former Saddler Tony Barras was dismissed for Notts County against Middlesbrough – a match also involving Michael Ricketts and Clive Platt.

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