Archive for August, 2004

Walsall 3 Swindon 2

roger6 @ 6:26 pm Monday 30 August 2004

Paul Merson’s super Saddlers fought back from 0-2 down to snatch a dramatic win right at the death, with Merse describing it as his proudest moment in management.
The Walsall player boss made three changes from Saturday’s draw with lowly Torquay, bringing in Zigor Aranalde, Joe Broad and Gary Birch for suspended Ian Roper, Matty Fryatt (foot) and Michael Standing.
The Saddlers couldn’t have started worse, with the unmarked Brian Howard heading home a Mark Yeates’ corner after only five minutes. Twenty minutes later, on-loan Gillingham striker – and former Colin Lee target – Darius Henderson latched onto a long clearance and slotted past Mark Paston to put Town two goals ahead. ‘A mad fifteen minutes’ said Merse later.
At last Walsall started to play. Within three minutes they had pulled a goal back as Gary Birch’s powerful drive was spilled by keeper Rhys Evans and Jorge Leitao headed home the rebound for his first goal of the season.
Then after 34 minutes, Birch and Merson combined well on the right with Joe Broad, whose cross was slotted home by Leitao who, according to Merson, was ‘different class’ and is the ‘best centre forward in the league’ when on form.
Darren Wrack then had a chance to seal a remarkable first half turn around, only to fire wide with the goal gaping. Wrack almost made up for this after the break, with yet another Beckham-esque free kick. Unlike against Barnsley however, this struck the inside of the past but did not cross the line.
Walsall pressed for the winner, but were almost caught on the break. Paston seems to have overcome his pre season blues and now looks a solid keeper. He kept out Sam Parkin’s late header with an instinctive stop.
Then, with three minutes to go, Jorge Leitao’s endless running provided a chance for Gary Birch who looped a header over Evans to seal a priceless win.


Torquay 0 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 6:27 pm Saturday 28 August 2004

The Saddlers failed to overcome Torquay at Plainmoor today, hindered by the dismissal of defender Ian Roper after only 39 minutes. Paul Merson made one change from the Saddlers’ last league encounter, bringing in Michael Standing for young winger Daryl Taylor. Zigor Aranalde returned on the bench after impressing in midweek Carling Cup action.
Stuart Noble, on loan from Fulham, came close for the Gulls before Roper picked up his second red card of the season following two bookings.
Merse replaced Matty Fryatt at half time and the Saddlers fared much better after the break, with Michael Standing missing a sitter and Merson firing a free kick just wide. Jorge Leitao also headed just wide for the Saddlers, for whom Mark Paston did well to deny Martin Gritton on several occasions.
Walsall: Paston, Bazeley, Roper, Emblen, Bennett, Kinsella, Osborn, Standing, Wrack, Leitao, Fryatt. Subs: McKinney, Aranalde, Merson, Daryl Taylor, Broad.

Meanwhile, Walsall have been drawn at home to League Two side Rushden and Diamonds in the first round of the LDV Vans Trophy, southern section. The match will be played in the week beginning Sept 27th. Incidentally, the sides have never met before.

Carling cup – Sheff Wed 1 Walsall 0

roger6 @ 6:27 pm Wednesday 25 August 2004

Paul Merson was accused of ‘devaluing the Carling Cup’ after his Walsall reserve side crashed to a 0-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough tonight. The Saddlers boss made ten changes to his side, handing debuts to defenders Ryan Willetts, Kofi Dakinah and Scott Dann and midfielder Joe Broad.
Wednesday won the match in the twentieth minute when Whelan won the ball from Gary Birch and crossed from deep. Former Bristol City striker Lee Peacock controlled the ball and fired past Mark Paston, who went on to make several super stops to keep Walsall in the game. Walsall’s best chance fell to winger Mark Wright, whose volley was turned around the post just after half time.
Walsall: Paston; Willetts, Dakinah, Aranalde (Capt), Taylor; Standing, Broad, Wright (McDermott 78); Merson; Birch, Atieno.
Subs: McKinney, Jameson, Dann, Williams, McDermott.

Walsall 2 Barnsley 2

roger6 @ 6:28 pm Saturday 21 August 2004

Darren Wrack’s injury time free kick salvaged a point for Walsall at home to Barnsley today, but the Saddlers are looking anything but promotion candidates.
Mark Paston came in for the out of form Richard McKinney, whilst Simon Osborn and Jorge Leitao also came into the first eleven in place of Gary Birch and manager Merson. Barnsley included Chris Shuker, who played for Walsall on loan for a short time, and Matt Carbon, who played for Walsall when he wasn’t injured.
Paul Hart’s men took an early lead, when Tony Vaughan headed in Stephen McPhail’s corner from close range (15). The Saddlers drew level after 36 minutes however, when Darren Wrack latched onto Mark Kinsella’s lofted free kick and crossed for Matty Fryatt to slide in his fourth goal in four games.
The Tykes came out strongly after the break and regained their lead after 49 minutes. Tom Williams’s left wing cross was powerfully headed home by the unmarked Barry Conlon – Paston left with no chance.
Walsall’s play became ‘gung ho’ for the remainder of the game. Striker Leroy Williams replaced full back Darren Bazeley, Standing replaced Kinsella and Tai Atieno made his debut, coming on for the injured Matty Fryatt. Throwing so many men forward, the Saddlers lost their shape and were vulnerable to the pace of Shuker on the break.
Wrack salvaged a point however, curling a free kick from the edge of the area in off the post.

Oldham 5 Walsall 3

roger6 @ 6:28 pm Saturday 14 August 2004

The Saddlers threw away a two goal lead for the second time in four days, crashing to a 3-5 defeat away at Oldham today.
Matty Fryatt, fresh from his England under 19 call up, opened the scoring after 29 minutes following a defensive mix up. Five minutes later, Daryl Taylor netted for the third consecutive match, firing past Les Pogliacomi from a tight angle.
However veteran winger David Eyres curled home a stunning free kick (42) before firing in a deflected equaliser from the edge of the box on the stroke of half time.
Oldham then moved ahead five minutes into the second half, Dean Holden firing goalwards from distance and seeing keeper Richard McKinney fumble his shot into the net. Four minutes later, Rodney Jack put the Latics 4-2 ahead, converting a cross from Jermaine Johnson.
Walsall then fought back to 4-3, Matty Fryatt winning and converting a penalty for the second successive Saturday. However, after having a potential equaliser disallowed, Walsall slipped to their first defeat of the season when Adam Griffin made it 5-3 at the death.

Bournemouth 2 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 6:28 pm Tuesday 10 August 2004

The Saddlers threw away a two goal lead tonight on the south coast, to pick up one point when three looked likely. Daryl Taylor opened the scoring late in the first half, Kris Taylor doubled the advantage, and Saddlers looked like going home happy. But two goals in two minutes saw Bournemouth on equal terms. How many good points – how many negatives – talk about the match now via the message board on the link below.

Walsall 3 Port Vale 2

roger6 @ 6:29 pm Saturday 07 August 2004

The Saddlers opened the new season with a 3-2 win over Port Vale on a hot day at the Bescot on Saturday. Merse had said he would give youth a chance this term, and his faith was rewarded with debut goals for teenagers Taylor and Williams. Fans on this message board have expressed mixed reactions but the consensus seems to be – there is plenty more to come, and the Saddlers sit 4th tonight…early days.

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