Archive for April, 2004

Walsall 0 Sheff Utd 1

roger6 @ 9:57 am Saturday 24 April 2004

Today began with a party atmosphere, a steel band, red balloons and lots of hope. One dubious Jack Lester penalty and ninety minutes later, Walsall had fallen into the relegation zone for the first time – with only two games to save ourselves.
Merse and Ozzy both played themselves in midfield, Jimmy Walker shrugged off his groin injury and Kris Taylor replaced Zigor at left wing back. At the front of our 3-5-2 formation was the pace and enthusiasm of Jermaine McSporran and Matty Fryatt. Making welcome returns to the bench after injury were Darren Wrack and Aaron Kerr.
Walsall dominated possession but it was United who registered the first two efforts of the game; Tonge firing over left footed from the edge of the area and then Andy Gray forcing Walker into a fine save with a looping header. Darren Bazeley’s deflected volley –from McSporran’s left wing cross – was the closest the Saddlers came.
Just before the break, United defender Chris Morgan took out about six Saddlers’ as a cynical foul sent Matty F crashing into our dugout. Morgan was booked, as was Ian Roper a minute later when he fouled Lester on the very edge of the box.
Three minutes into the second half, Warnock’s men netted what proved to be the winner. Ropes was adjudged to have fouled Lester by ref Mark Clattenburg and the Blades’ striker fired the spot kick into the roof of the net.
On came Bradbury for McSporran and Wrack for Taylor. Wrack immediately sent Fryatt away but he was unable to get a shot away and the ball was cleared. Bradbury then headed wide and Matty was again halted after he looked to have beaten the last man. Bradbury then fired wide before Wright replaced Osborn.
United sent on Shaw, then McLeod and then Rankine as the Blades ran down the clock. Kenny was spoken to about time wasting before McLeod – notorious for diving during his time at Derby – fell to the ground after Walker had tried to get the ball back. McLeod was booked for his theatrics.
Emblen, moved up front, was just inches away from an equaliser only for Fryatt’s cross to somehow evade him. Merson’s men continued to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at United but alas, it was not to be our day. That was confirmed when Emblen was wrestled to the ground at the death but still no penalty was given.
Gillingham and Burnley both won so things are no longer in our own hands. A tough trip to in form Palace next week could see us relegated…but with Merse in charge, and Matty up front, there’s always hope!

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Info for away fans

roger6 @ 11:12 am Friday 23 April 2004

How to get to Bescot Stadium
BY CAR: Exit at Junction 9 of the M6 (signposted A461 Wednesbury). At roundabout turn right (signposted A461 Walsall). After 100 metres, turn right where the road divides (signposted A4148 and Bescot Stadium) into Wallows Lane. Straight through traffic lights, over bridge, and right at the lights into Bescot Crescent.
BY RAIL: Railway station (Bescot Stadium) right by the ground. Half hourly service from Birmingham New Street. No Sunday service.
Bescot stadium
Total capacity: 11,500
For away fans: 2,000 (Turnstiles 21-28)

Parking
There are separate car parks for home and away fans costing £3. You can also park on the retail park for free but the owners have recently started parking patrols to enforce a 2 hour limit. There is also plenty of street parking, but you cannot park in Bescot Crescent immediately by the ground. There are not many problems getting away but due to the traffic lights at each end of Bescot Crescent, allow about fifteen minutes to get out of the car park.

Pubs / places to eat
Inside the ground the Balti pies are well worth a try. As for pubs, the Imperial is a good place in the town. It is a JD Weatherspoons pub so the beer and food are cheap. Only one problem, they tend not to like fans wearing colours. There is a Mcdonalds at the retail park next to the ground, and a Morrisons supermarket close by.

Norwich 5 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 9:58 am Saturday 17 April 2004

Life without Colin Lee began properly today…and Walsall were thumped 5-0 by a Norwich team destined for the Premier League. Temporary managers Paul Merson and Simon Osborn made four changes to the team beaten by Gillingham last week; Jermaine McSporran – making his first Walsall start – Craig Burley, Paul Ritchie and Jorge Leitao came in for Mark Wright, Steve Corica, Paul Merson and Keith Andrews, the latter two of which dropped to the bench.
Life under Merse got off to the worst possible start when the Canaries forged ahead inside two minutes, Damien Francis touching in Darren Huckerby’s cross. The Saddlers held on until the stroke of half time when City got a second. Former Walsall loan target Huckerby was again the provider – his cross was met by the head of Leon McKenzie and the ball looped over Jimmy Walker and in.
Six minutes into the second half, Delia Smith’s side scored a third. Mathias Svensson headed in Curtis Flemming’s cross to net his fifth goal in five games. Immediately, Walsall made a double change. One manager replaced another as Merson came on for Osborn. Matty Fryatt also replaced Lee Bradbury.
Huckerby hit Norwich’s fourth after latching onto Phil Mulryne’s lay off with seventeen minutes remaining. Svensson’s second of the game – four minutes from time – sealed City’s biggest home win for six years.
Leitao, Bradbury, McSporran, Bazeley and Kris Taylor – on for Leitao after 61 minutes – were all thwarted by England keeper Robert Green.
Junior netted a penalty as Derby beat Preston 5-1 to move above the Saddlers. Thankfully, Gillingham and Burnely both lost so Walsall sit in 20th place with three games left – at least survival is still in our own hands.

Lee Speaks Out

roger6 @ 8:59 am Saturday 17 April 2004

Colin Lee has spoken out following his sacking at Bescot, admitting that he was proud of his achievements at Walsall, shocked at having his contract terminated and hopeful of getting his ‘dream job’. Unfortunately for Colin, it looks as though Hibs boss Bobby Williamson will be appointed Pilgrims’ boss on Monday.
“The job I’ve done here is almost miraculous in some areas,” he said.
“I’ve made history at Walsall by keeping them in the first division for two successive seasons. I feel I have been successful without winning anything. Success has to be judged by the club you are managing. I’m proud of what I’ve done at Walsall.”
However, he felt let down by Jeff Bonser: “I can’t do anything about what’s happened,” he said. “But I’m very surprised because the owner of Walsall was the one who passed my number on to Plymouth Argyle and who gave them permission to speak to me. And from doing that they’ve used it as an excuse to dismiss me.”
Lee then went on to say “I had the chance to speak to Plymouth Argyle after getting permission by Walsall and I wanted to listen to their ambition. I want to be at a club who want to move forward, and I believe Plymouth have that potential. I’m a Devonian and I would relish the chance to manage the biggest club in Devon.”
That honour instead looks to belong to Williamson. “I’m sure the fans will be disappointed, but I was put in a position where I was asked to speak to Plymouth and I spoke to them.” said the Hibs boss.

Colin Lee Sacked

roger6 @ 9:59 am Friday 16 April 2004

Colin Lee’s contract at Bescot has been terminated by owner Jeff Bonser today. Assistant manager Paul Bracewell has also left the club and players Paul Merson and Simon Osborn will take charge of first team affairs for tomorrow’s clash with Norwich.
“The decision by Plymouth to delay the announcement of their new manager has created an atmosphere of intense uncertainty at this stage of the season. The situation was created by Colin Lee being prepared to talk to Plymouth about their managerial vacancy just six months after pledging his long-term future to Walsall.” said Bonser.
Lee’s assistant Bracewell then decided that “Colin Lee brought me to the club to work with him and it seems right that if he departs, I should go too.”
The news seems to have come as a shock to Lee, who pledged his future to Walsall earlier today; “I’m not walking out, I’ll never walk out and I’ve no intention of walking out on my contract at this football club. I’ve not behaved in any way incorrectly, and I’d never do anything behind the owner’s back like speaking to another club without Walsall’s permission. But Plymouth Argyle approached this football club, permission was granted for them to speak to me and I felt I had to go and see what they had to say although it was nothing more than a chat and I see nothing wrong with that.”
Lee is now a free agent and would be free to join Plymouth, although the second division leaders won’t appoint their new manager until next week. Lee joined Walsall in January 2002.

Lee Can Talk to Plymouth

roger6 @ 9:59 am Wednesday 14 April 2004

Walsall owner Jeff Bonser today confirmed that Plymouth had made an aproach for manager Colin Lee and that he would be allowed to talk to them.
“I have received a call from Paul Stapleton requesting permission to talk to Colin Lee,” said Bonser. “I made it clear to him that the timing of his approach, at this crucial stage of the season, was diabolical. I would never inflict such disruption on another club. Nevertheless, the rumours that are circulating about Colin being linked with the Plymouth job, and the unsettling effect they can have on the club, make it essential that the situation is clarified.” Bonser continued “Colin Lee has been informed of the approach from Plymouth, and the decision now rests with him whether he wants to talk to them.”
Lee has long been linked with the second divison leaders, his home town club. Hibs boss Bobby Williamson is also rumoured to be a target although many fans would like to see Rotherham’s Ronnie Moore at the helm.

Gillingham 3 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 10:00 am Monday 12 April 2004

Walsall were sucked further into the relegation battle today after a feeble defeat away at Gillingham today.
Colin Lee made three changes after Saturday’s dire defeat against Burnley, dropping Leitao to the bench and Burley from the squad. The injured Ian Roper was replaced by Matt Carbon whilst Mark Wright and Steve Corica were also brought into the starting eleven.
Gills player-manager Andy Hessenthaler described the game as “the biggest in a long, long time” but Walsall never showed. Jimmy Walker made several fine stops with the pacy front two of Patrick Agyemang and Mamade Sidibe causing problem after problem. Chris Hope headed a corner against the bar and then it was his header which was helped over the line by Agyemang to give the Gills the lead on the stroke of half time.
Walsall sent on Leitao and Taylor for Merson and Andrews at half time but were unable to turn things around. Agyemang added a second after 67 minutes and diminutive midfielder Danny Spiller rose unmarked to head home a third at the death. Jermaine McSporran was again sent on on the left wing leaving many fans to wonder why Wycombe’s top scorer is not being given the chance to get the goals which Walsall need so crucially at the moment.
Jimmy Walker kept the score down with one of his best ever performances and Neil Emblen also defended well but few other players came out of the match with any credit. With Derby and Watford both snatching late winners, Walsall are now only two points away from the relegation zone and with tough games against Norwich, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace coming up, things are looking ominous.

Walsall 0 Burnley 1

roger6 @ 10:00 am Saturday 10 April 2004

Dismal Walsall were beaten by Robbie Blakes’ 56th minute penalty at home to struggling Burnley this afternoon. The Saddlers never got going, rarely featured in attack and were booed off after ninety dire minutes.
Colin Lee kept the same defensive side that scrapped out a result at Derby last week but also boasted little incision and attacking flare.
Wolves reject Mo Camara registered the first meaningful shot of the match, firing just over with his weaker right foot. Incidentally, when was the last time a Walsall full back got forward to score from open play?! Glen Little headed over the bar, Walker was forced to save from Tony Grant and then Neil Wood – on loan from Man United – fired inches wide from the edge of the box. Goal scorer Blake always looked dangerous up front whilst Ian Moore had to be watched, if only because of his tendency to dive and appeal for anything and everything. Walsall were being overrun at home by a team who had only won three times away all season!
Paul Merson at last forced keeper Brian Jensen into a save as the first half drew to a close. Then, at half time Matt Carbon replaced Roper who had picked up a knock in the first half.
Whatever Colin Lee said at half time didn’t work because Burnley quickly resumed their dominant position. Grant fired over from distance before being brought down by the anonymous, unfit-looking Craig Burley – Blake sent Walker the wrong way from the spot. That was Blake’s 22nd of the season…just think where we could be if we had that sort of a goal threat. Or if we had eleven players with the heart of Neil Emblen, who was superb at the back yet again.
On came Mark Wright and McSporran for Burley and Merson as the Saddlers reverted to 4-4-2. Why do we always have to wait until we are behind before sending on the subs? It is usually blatant that we need them before we have gone behind. Wright got in a few crosses but McSporran rarely received the ball, despite Colin Lee regularly telling newspaper reporters that he has been ‘busy working with McSporran in training in a bid to utilise his devastating pace.’
McSporran did come close to an equaliser, volleying Wright’s cross just past the post. McSporran, you see, will shoot first time. If Lee Bradbury possessed this quality, he may have had a hat trick today. Unfortunately he doesn’t and didn’t.
Keith Andrews fired a quick free kick over the bar before Zigor’s free kick was saved easily by Jensen, as the Saddlers slumped to their seventh home defeat of the season.
In truth, Walsall rarely looked like scoring. Too many players lack the heart for a relegation battle and Lee’s tactics – Merson a left winger? Because he certainly wasn’t playing ‘in the hole’ – also don’t help. Youngsters Fryatt, Taylor and Wright have all shown potential AND all scored yet all have been dropped from the starting eleven. Bazeley is a mere shadow of his impressive self last season. Burley has yet to contribute anything of note in a Saddlers shirt. Merson constantly disappoints and the front two of Bradbury and Leitao – for all there physical presence (Bradbury) and running out of their hearts (Leitao) – probably couldn’t score in a brothel at the moment. Yes fans want results but they also want decent performances every now and again. If all they wanted was results, they’d probably just sit at home and watch Ceefax.

Derby 0 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 10:01 am Saturday 03 April 2004

Striker nets winner against former club at Pride Park…surely something all Walsall fans were dreading this past week? Thankfully for us, it wasn’t that Brazilian scourge Junior who smashed home an 86th minute penalty to snatch all three crucial relegation points but LEE BRADBURY.
Bradbury made his second start for the Saddlers up front alongside the returning Leitao. Paul Peschisolido and Michael Johnson both played for the Rams, having turned down moves to Bescot earlier this season. Former Saddler Jamie Vincent missed out through injury but Junior returned to the sixteen after long term injury.
Derby dominated the first half, lead by the tricky winger Candido Costa. Peschisolido and Everton loanee Leon Osman both tested Walker while Manel’s header was disallowed for offside. Walsall’s best chance came from the left boot of full back Darren Bazeley, whose shot was blocked by keeper Lee Grant.
Rob Edwards replaced the injured Paul Boertein at the start of the second half for Derby and Lee Bradbury then found himself clean through but his lob sailed wide.
Then the home crowd were up in arms when the referee blew for a foul by Keith Andrews – who was then booked – despite Pesch being clean through.
Derby then sent on Junior – to the inevitable boos and ‘Judas’ chants – and McSporran replaced the largely ineffective (still unfit?) Leitao.
With less than five minutes to go and the game looking like a stalemate, Bradbury latched onto a long ball and was hauled down in the area by Johnson. The linesman seemed to have flagged for a foul by Bradbury but the ref gave a penalty and sent off Johnson. Bradbury drilled the ball straight down the middle to win it for Walsall.
Moments later the Saddlers almost clinched victory; Merson fed Bradbury, who played the ball into the path of McSporran. The substitute cut inside two players before firing past Grant, only to see the ball hit the inside of the post and roll away to safety.
Derby threw everything forward in the four minutes of injury time and forced five successive corners! One of these fell to Junior, who thought he had grabbed a cruel equaliser but was denied on the line by Bazeley. Jimmy Walker was booked for time wasting and the Saddlers held on to move six points clear of he drop zone.

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