Archive for September, 2006

Walsall vs Mansfield Town Preview

Neil @ 12:37 pm Friday 29 September 2006

It’s another local derby tomorrow (of sorts) as we renew rivalries with another old “friend” in the shape of Mansfield Town. Minds on both sides may be a little distracted by the collections and the fund raising for Matt Gadsby, but this is also an important game, as the Saddlers continue in the attempt to try and get some daylight between then and the following clubs. A gap is already starting to appear after the first five or six and this is a bit like a long distance race in a major Championship, where you keep applying the pressure until you’re down to three, when the real race for first place can start. My God, I’ll be saying “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” next!

After a long period of two games in a week, Richard Money’s men will be feeling the strain and the performances away at Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury suggest that the first 11 is getting tired, despite the 4 points from the two games. The temptation will be for him to mix it up a little tomorrow.

Darren Wrack is now back in training and being looked at for a run out in the reserves next week against Barnsley and Nicholls has already appeared for them, but the game is probably too early him to play a part.

Ian Roper is fit again, as is James Constable, so the only other absentee is Allan Picken, who seems unable to shake off his troublesome knee injury.

If DD doesn’t mix it up, then the team is likely to be:

Ince, Westwood, Roper, Gerrard, Taylor, Wright, Dobson, Keates, Fox, Sam, Butler

Also fighting for a chance will be Bossu, Pead, Dann, Kinsella, Constable, Bedeau, Demontagnac.

As for Mansfield, manager Shirtliff has no real injury worries. Striker Michael Boulding has been missing, but is now due for a return to the first team, and defender Jon Olav Hjelde, who has been out for a while, made his return on Tuesday night We have, of course, come across him before in his Nottingham Forest days.

Danger man is likely to be former Sheffield Wednesday and Stockport midfielder Matt Hamshaw, who is their top scorer this season, with 4 goals.

Predictions?

Mansfield go into the game in a fairly lowly 14th position. Their record so far this season is:

P 11 Won 3 Drawn 4 Lost 4 GD –1, Points 13

Away from home, however, is their weakness, the record being:

P 5 Won 0 Drawn 2 Lost 3 GF 3 GA 7 GD –4 Points 2.

Despite them getting a good win in the week, against Darlington on Tuesday, their away form suggests that they will struggle against a team with a home record of:

P 5 Won 5 Goals For 12 Goals Against 0 Points 15.

I think I’ll go for a home win.

Small Town In Poland Launch

Tomorrow’s game will also see the launch of a new fanzine, “Small Town In Poland”, to replace the now defunct NMFE. The club have been without a fanzine for a while and this launch is an exciting prospect, given the fact that its predecessor was only being released on a very ad hoc basis even before its final demise.

The first edition will be in honour of the Matt Gadsby fund and around half of the proceeds will be being donated, once the printing costs have been paid.

If you want to help with the distribution, or to contribute to future editions, PM Stu on the message board here.

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Matt Gadsby

Neil @ 4:05 pm Thursday 28 September 2006

It’s going to be an odd atmosphere at Bescot on Saturday. It ought to be a warm welcome back to a team on top of the League, following four points from two tricky away games. It’ll all be a little different than that, though because of a man who played for both teams – Matt Gadsby.

Most Saddlers fans will remember Matt as a promising youth player who made his way up through the reserves, then made 27 first team appearances and 20 substitute appearances, all without quite making the grade. He was a solid enough defender, and played his part in the famous play off win against Reading, supplying the pass from which Byfield hit home the winner.

After being released by Colin Lee, however, he also made 15 full appearances and 7 as sub for Saturday’s opponents, before moving on to the non-League scene.

A week today (Thursday), however, will see the funeral of this, by all accounts, likable young man. Just under three weeks ago, while playing for Hinckley, he collapsed and died on the pitch.

Of course, fans from both sides will be doing something to help boost the fund that has been set up to support Matt’s wife Sarah and his daughter Milly. Buckets will be at Bescot for contributions to be made and a bunch of Mansfield fans will doing a sponsored cycle ride to the game. In the usual way, players from all over have donated shirts and memorabilia to be auctioned or raffled off (notably by Dean Keates, who came up through the ranks with Matthew).

In view of the fact that it will be just a handful of days before the funeral, let’s all make a contribution for the cause and let’s also not forget that, when Bill Shankly made his “football’s not a matter of life and death, it’s far more important than that” comment, he was, of course, speaking complete nonsense.

Matt Gadsby

Matthew Gadsby, 6th September 1979 to 9th September 2006. Rest In Peace.

Shrewsbury vs Walsall Team News

neilr @ 7:21 pm Tuesday 26 September 2006

New signing Bossu went stright into the squad tonight, but Richard Money decided to change things around a little as well.

Gerrard makes an immediate return after suspension for the injured Roper, Westwood moves back to right back and Tony Bedeau starts up front with Butler, in place of Sam, who moves down to the bench.

New Signing At Shrewsbury

Neil @ 9:02 am Tuesday 26 September 2006

French goalkeeper Bertrand Bossu has signed a contract with the Saddlers until the end of the season.

The ex Gillingham ‘keeper is 25, well over six feet tall and around 14 stones and will provide cover for first choice Clayton Ince .

He came to England originally from Calais, as a trainee at Barnet, before making his name at Hayes. Gillingham acquired him on the strength of his appearances there.

He spent last season at Darlington, but negotiated a release from his contract after missing most of the season out with injury (a broken ankle).

It has been rumoured that Richard Money intends to let current back up Rene Gilmartin out on loan to gain first team experience and he has been looking for a suitable number two for a while.

It’s likely that he will go straight into the squad for tonight’s clash at Shrewsbury.

Other team news for the Saddlers is that it’s still too early for Wrack and Nicholls, Constable is still struggling with his injury and Roper is doubtful, following his knock which forced him off on Saturday. Anthony Gerrard is available again after suspension, however.

Shrewsbury have no injury worries and are likely to field the same squad that drew with Darlington at the weekend.

Geordie\’s Pub Guide – Shrewsbury

Neil @ 11:18 am Monday 25 September 2006

Here it is, the day we thought would never come when the rodents slipped into non-league obscurity and we signed you know who, but thanks largely to the latter three years on we meet our barber cap wearing neighbours from under the Severn on equal terms, well almost, we are of course top of the league and they mid-table nobodies.

Apart from when ourselves or the oh so mighty Wrexham are in town Shrewsbury is a relaxed day out pub wise, plenty wattle and daub style real ale bars dotted around the town and the area known as Abbey Forgeate near the disgusting tin shack that masquerades as a football ground

But of course tomorrow we are in town, so the air will no doubt be crackling with tension, fear not in my experience Shrewsbury fans are a well balanced bunch boasting a chip on each shoulder when in comes to the Saddlers.

So where to drink? The station is right next to the ground although an annoying little walk if you don’t fancy absailing down a grassy knoll, but there is a horrible amber painted pub called the Albion Vaults under the bridge as you exit the station, I was refused entry on my last visit so guess what? Recommended it isn’t. but I’m sure it’s lovely.

If you fancy a pint of quality Banks’s then walk about 3 minutes up the hill from the station to the Bull’s Head on Castle Gate. However, my own personal favourites are the Lion and Pheasant which is a short walk away from the ground towards the town and The Old Lion Tap which is set in a back alley off the main road again walking over the river towards the town.

Back on Abbey Forgeate the home orientated Crown is probably the closest pub to the ground. While a little further along The Dun Cow offers the best option for those arriving early in search of quality pub food with its superb traditional menu and exotic meats for anyone that can’t resist a bit of pre-match alligator or kangaroo.

Honorary mention as well to the spacious warehouse conversion called The Armoury which is on the opposite side of the town where the river loops round, but still only about half a mile from the ground. If you have the time its well worth a visit, although it’s a bit pricey when it comes to food the atmosphere is far more relaxed than most other town centre pubs on a match-day.

Bristol Rovers vs Walsall – We Are Top Of The League.

neilr @ 5:12 pm Saturday 23 September 2006

The second half was a mirror image of the first, in many ways, as the central midfield again struggled to cope and to keep possession, which just left the strikers isolated.

At the back, however, Westwood and Dann were outstanding and continued their task of making the Bristol Rovers attack look very ordinary indeed.

Chances were few and far between in the second 45, for both sides, but, having taken both of their chances in the first half, Walsall, as the away side, didn’t have to do any more.

Bristol Rovers had far more of the possession, however, and a better team might have punsihed us, as the saddlers did sit a little too far back. That said, Ince was still not really troubled until a minute into injury time, when Sandell hit one home from 20 yards.

The overall impression from the ground was that this was not a very good performance by the lads. It was, however, three more away points, which took the saddlers back to the top of the League.

Bristol Rovers vs Walsall Half Time

neilr @ 4:18 pm Saturday 23 September 2006

Richard Money suprised everyone at the Memorial Ground this afternoon, according to the Fat Controller, by not keeping the team that did so well against Bolton on Tuesday.

Out went Craig Pead and in came Scott Dann, with Westwood moving to right back. The Saddlers, therefore, lined up:-

WALSALL: Clayton Ince, Scott Dann, Chris Westwood, Mark Wright, Ian Roper, Daniel Fox, Michael Dobson, Dean Keates, Kris Taylor, Martin Butler, Hector Sam

Subs: Craig Pead, Tony Bedeau, Carlos Fangueiro, Ishmel Demontagnac, Rene Gilmartin

Whatever DDs plans were, they were soon changed when Roper seemed to go over on the ankle he injured making a block on Tuesday night. He was replaced by Pead, with Westwood moving to centre back.

Scott Dann, however, soon proved his worth, when a free kick was launched into the Bristol Rovers penalty area from the centre circle. The home ‘keeper came, didn’t get there and Dann got a back header in to score his third of the season.

The rest of the half saw the home team get plenty of possession, as the central midfield of Keates and Dobson just failed to work properly. It was to no avail for Rovers, though, as Westwood and Dann were absolutely outstanding, repelling everything thrown at them.

Wright showed some nice touches and Butler and Sam were their usual busy selves, though and the Pirates looked in trouble from almost every set piece.

Eventually, an inswinging corner was met by Danny Fox with a bullet header which gave the ‘keeper no chance.

Half time: Bristol Rovers 0 Walsall 2.

Bristol Rovers vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 11:56 am Friday 22 September 2006

Back to the bread and butter of the league tomorrow and Richard Money will have been concentrating on making sure the players haven’t dwelled on Tuesday night’s superb performance against Bolton and are up for getting three point from the visit to the Memorial Ground. The top five teams of Wycombe, Swindon, Lincoln, Franchise and Walsall have already started to open a little gap and, if the promotion places do turn out to be perm any three from five, no one will want to be the first to falter, even at this early stage of the season.

Walsall, of course, have won all five of their home games so far this season, so, if anything does need to be improved, it’s the haul of 5 points from 4 games away.

Fortunately, Dicky Dosh seems to have no new injury worries following Tuesday night, other than Kinsella picking up a slight strain in the reserves, which won’t stop him playing. It’s still too early for Alex Nicholls to be putting in an appearance, I’d have thought, Wrack is still not fit and Gerrard suspended. Constable is still likely to be missing with his ankle injury too.

Picken was left out of the squad on Tuesday so he could play the 90 minutes for the reserves on Wednesday, as was Fangueiro, so I would expect the side to be the same sixteen as the Bolton game, with Picken and Fangueiro added:-

Ince, Gilmartin, Pead, Westwood, Roper, Picken, Dann, Taylor, Wright, Kinsella, Keates, Dobson, Fangueiro, Demontagnac, Fox, Butler, Sam and Bedeau.

Manager Paul Trollope has more problems than Dicky down in Bristol. None of them are revolving around injuries, as the team have a clean bill of health, other than a slight doubt about central defender Steve Elliott, who was struggling to be fit for the last league game at Darlington. They will also be welcoming back skipper James Hunt from suspension.

No, Trollope’s problems all revolve around trying to find a settled side and someone to start scoring the goals that Junior Agogo used to get for them. They did bring in Rickie Lambert (28 goals in 61 league starts for Rochdale) as a replacement, but he has failed to find the net as yet and the whole team has been misfiring in front of goal.

Predictions?

Rovers’ home record is, at present, reasonably dismal and it’s virtually all down to that lack of goals. It reads:-

Played 4 Won 2 Drawn 1 Lost 1 Goals For 3 Against 2 Points 7.

Less than a goal a game doesn’t bode well for their long term prospects and Trollope has been desperately trying to get some extra firepower in on loan.

The key to this game has to be how well DD has motivated his team following their heroics on Tuesday night. Rovers don’t score many goals, but they don’t concede that many either, so this will be close. I’d take our (hopefully) superior class up front to give us a 1 – 0 win.

Geordie\’s Pub Guide To Bristol

Neil @ 12:29 pm Thursday 21 September 2006

Short and to the point this week, as Geordiesaddler has been inundated at work. With a city the size of Bristol, though, it is difficult cutting this down to a managable level!

A trip to Bristol can mean many things from the wonderful Smiles brewery tap near the hospital, the Wharf development down by the Avon, or the rather grotty and old fashioned city centre.

For a trip to The Memorial ground the best option is to stick to the plethora of pubs that exist on Gloucester Road. The Wellington is an excellent spacious pub that boasts Bath Ales and although home orientated I’ve never had any problems.

The more compact Victoria can be found a little further up Gloucester Road and is worth a look, although, like The John Cabot, it can get extremely busy on matchdays. I would tend to avoid the latter to be honest as it gets a bit “yokelly”.

Lovers of Real Ale may want to try The Annexe near the Cricket Ground about 7 minutes walk from the stadium. Good also if you have the kids or if it’s a nice day as this bar is family friendly, does good cheap food and boasts a beer garden.

There is also the usual social club at the ground, although with the choice of bars on Gloucester Road its hardly necessary.

Trialists and Returnees At Albion!

neilr @ 7:08 pm Wednesday 20 September 2006

The reserves are playing at West Bromwich Albion tonight and the team is containing a trialist and a welcome returnee, according to the Fat Controller at the Hawthorns..

The trialist is former Gillingham French goalkeeper, Bertrand Bossu. The 25 year old has been at Darlington as back up since leaving Gillingham in 2005 in somewhat acrimonious circumstances. He made 9 appearances for them.

The returnee is the welcome site of Alex Nicholls, back in action after his broken leg.

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