Archive for October, 2006

Decent Reality TV?

Neil @ 11:44 am Monday 30 October 2006

Walsall’s first round FA Cup tie has been chosen for live broadcast by Sky.

You might think that this is a compliment for the way we have started the season, but the Macclesfield game has almost certainly been chosen mainly because of their new Manager, Paul Ince.

The game has been moved to Monday November 13th, with an 8.00 pm kick off, in order to accommodate the cameras.

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Walsall vs MK Dons – Stalemate

neilr @ 9:57 am Sunday 29 October 2006

If ever there was a case of two teams cancelling each other out, this was it.

The Franchise turned out to be a cross between the Wimbledon of old and a typical Martin Allen side. They were big, ugly and tough. So much so, that Keith Andrews, who looked fairly big and powerful in our midfield when we had him on loan, looked dwarfed by his team mates.

Coupled with the fact that we had a referee so determined to keep the game flowing, he missed things he shouldn’t have, such as only warning McCleod for his first blatant dive, then booked him for his second and, somehow, didn’t give a clear arm across the face of Hector Sam, or book their number 6 for numerous petty fouls committed. Ah, well, he was better than some we’ve had, I suppose.

The game really is summed up by the chances. There weren’t any to speak of.

Granted Ince had to tip a goal bound header over the bar acrobatically towards the end of the first half, but that really was meant as a flick across the goal that was miss-timed. Substitute Lloyd Dyer also hit the inside of a post for them with a miss-hit cross, but there only real golden chance was a header from Platt, comfortably saved by the excellent Ince, as the cross was too far behind him to get any real purchase on it. Apart from those, Ince’s saves were all from routine ling range shots.

The Walsall chances were equally scarce, however, with just a long drive from Fox that went inches wide with Harper beaten and, to be honest, the best chance of the game, a free header for Dann, (bought on to give us more of a physical presence up front), when he was superbly set up by Butler.

The problems stemmed from central midfield where Dobson was playing them on his own. Keates was completely muscled out of this game and showed his limitations when the opposition have something about them. Consequently, we got little possession down the flanks, which is where our creativity comes from and where, the superb Lewington had Mark Wright in his pocket.

Our best spell certainly came when Demontagnac replaced Keates, Fox moved inside and right back Jamie Smith, who had been cruising until them, was suddenly struggling.

Roper got the Sponsor’s MoM and I’ve got no complaints with that.

All in all, you could see why the Franchise’s away record is better than their home record, so better luck at the Hockey Stadium especially if we can find some needed reinforcements in the middle of the park.

Walsall vs Franchise (MK Dons) Preview

Neil @ 11:25 am Friday 27 October 2006

I hate this lot. The club formerly known as Wimbledon. It’s nothing personal with the players and management (well, that’s not strictly speaking true, as I can’t stand that * expletive deleted * Martin Allen or that cheating little ******* Izale McLeod), but it is with the fans and the owners.

I know that this attitude always seems a little strange for some of the younger fans who didn’t live through some of our darkest days, but, for someone who was involved with Barry Blower in the Save Our Saddlers campaigns when the late and not very lamented Ken Wheldon was trying to move us to Molyneux or St Andrews, the thought of a football club being ripped away from its soul and its roots and transplanted 80 miles away, just makes me very, very angry. The fact that Pete Winkelman’s consortium had already tried to hijack a couple of other League clubs (notably Luton) before all this happened makes me angry. The fact that they couldn’t have put money into the non-League team in the City (city – are they joking?) to bring it up the pyramid (ironically from the same level as AFC Wimbledon) makes me mad, as does the fact that the people of the town accepted all of this without backing the existing teams and the fact that the FA and the Football League stood by as a dangerous precedent was set. In fact, nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing them and AFC Wimbledon pass each other in the opposite direction. Pity they’re doing so well at the moment, isn’t it?

Richard Money’s problems are ones of success. Given the easing of the injury problems, especially with the return of Darren Wrack, his major task will be to keep the players’ feet on the ground, as confidence must be sky high.

Chris Westwood is available again, as is skipper Michael Dobson and top scorer Martin Butler, following his illness. As far as we know, that leaves Allan Picken as the only injury absentee and he should be back with us by next Saturday.

The squad, therefore, following Carlos Fangueiro’s departure earlier this week, should come from:

Ince, Bossu, Westwood, Pead, Dann, Roper, Gerrard, Taylor, Wright, Bedeau, Wrack, Dobson, Keates, Kinsella, Fox, Demontagnac, Butler, Sam, Constable, Nicholls.

Martin Allen has made some big changes down at the Franchise this week, freeing 6 players. Amongst those 6, club captain and ex Arsenal defender Ben Chorley has gone to Gillingham on loan, with a view to a permanent move and Craig Morgan, who got his first Welsh cap recently, has gone back to the club he came from, Wrexham.

We’ll have some ex Saddlers to “welcome back” tomorrow, in the shape of former loanee and ex Dingle Keith Andrews and the always awkward Clive Platt (remember when people thought he had more promise than Michael Ricketts?).

Other links are Clayton Ince’s understudy at Crewe, Ademola Bankole in goal and former Merson targets (but, then again, who wasn’t), Lloyd Dyer on the wing and Aaron Wilbraham up front.

Just to complete the picture of what these opponents are like, we may also see the likes of former Blackpool and Plymouth danger man Scott Taylor, Leicester, Swindon and Hull midfielder Junior Lewis, Aussie Gareth Edds and the dangerous ex Sheffield Wednesday player, Jon-Paul McGovern, all of whom have either proved themselves at this level or given us problems in the past.

Predictions?

Oh boy, this is tricky.

The Dongles are lying in sixth place at the moment, a full eight points behind us. They have an away record of won 4, drawn 1 lost 2, almost identical to their home record, where they have played one more game than that and lost it. That away record is, in fact, slightly better than our own. They really cannot afford to have the gap widen to 11 points, although, of course, the teams in second and third, Lincoln and Swindon, meet at the County Ground tomorrow.

On the other hand, of course, the Saddlers have the perfect record at home, having won all seven, with no goals conceded.

That record will have to go sometime, but I still have an inkling for a narrow home win tomorrow. If that does happen and there is a draw in the Swindon/Lincoln game, we will be four points clear at the top tomorrow night. That’s how important this game might be.

Matt Gadsby Testimonial

Meanwhile, on a more serious note, former internationals and stars are going to play in a match on Sunday in memory of former Saddler Matt Gadsby, who died recently aged 27 after collapsing on the pitch.

A post-mortem examination has revealed that Matt, who was in action for Hinckley United when the tragedy happened on 9 September, had a heart condition.

The memorial game is between Tamworth Sunday league team Newton Thistle and a Leicester City old stars side.

Peter Shilton and Cyrille Regis are among ex-England players due to play.

In addition, ex-Leicester pair Gary Mills and Paul Ramsey, Aston Villa’s European Cup winners Gordon Cowans and Tony Morley, and one of Coventry’s FA Cup winners Micky Gynn, are expected to feature.

The match will take place at the Newton Regis Sports Ground on Sunday, October 29th. The kick off is 1.30pm and admission is £3 adults and £1 juniors. (Newton Regis is just off the M42, near to Tamworth).

The game will kick start a very important week for Matt’s Memorial Fund which is edging ever close to the initial target of £25,000 as cash continues to come in.

Training Ground Approved

Neil @ 9:08 am Friday 27 October 2006

The Essington Parish Council have approved, in principal, the purchase by the club of the Broad Lane Pavillion site as a new training ground.

The resident consultation has reached a successful conclusion, so it would appear that the only remaining obstacle is the actual legal negotiations between the club and the Parish Council.

The club are still hoping to have the facilites ready for pre season July 2007.

MK Dons Clash – Tasty for ex Brentford Man!

Neil @ 11:01 am Wednesday 25 October 2006

One player looking forward to Saturday’s game more than most will be skipper Michael Dobson, who will be eager to renew his acquaintance with his former manager, Martin Allen.

Dobbo has told the Official Site:

“He obviously had an opinion that I wasn’t his first choice for some reason or another.

That’s fair enough. I put my head down and tried my hardest but no matter what I did I wasn’t going to play so it was time to move on.

It made my decision easier to move on when I wasn’t offered a new contract and it has given me a new lease of life.”

When the combative midfielder joined the Saddlers, Brentford fans were asked for their opinions on him on their message boards. More than one expressed their admiration for Dobson and said that he suffered, like others, from a breakdown in their relationship with the prickly Allen, which had little to do with their football abilities. That breakdown eventually lead to Dobson being loaned out to Reading (ironically playing in a higher Division) and then not being offered a new contract.

Whatever the case, Dobson will feel he has something to prove on Saturday, although he won’t be too close to Allen on the pitch, as the Manager is serving a touchline ban, follwing his “sending off” in their home defeat by Hereford last weekend.

Walsall Release Ex Millwall Man

Neil @ 1:10 pm Tuesday 24 October 2006

Reports are reaching UTS that Walsall have released Carlos Fangueiro.

The Potuguese right winger had been given a contract until the January transfer window in order to prove his worth to the squad.

Despite one or two promising appearances, injury has restricted his opportunities and, with Mark Wright, Tony Bedeau and Darren Wrack all able to play in his position, it looks like the club have freed Fangueiro, so he can find another employer.

Walsall To Get Former England Man?

neilr @ 7:27 am Monday 23 October 2006

There is a strong rumour on the message board that Walsall are about to re-sign their former striker, Michael Ricketts.

The ex Bolton and Middlesbrough player is curently at Southend, where he has fallen into disfavour with the management amongst accusations about, according to rumourm, either his fitness levels, or being late for training.

He has played just 45 minutes competitive football for Southend, although he did score twice for thme in a pre-season friendly.

If there is one thing Richard Money has proved so far in his tenure at Bescot, however, is his ability to instill discipline in his players and this may well turn out to be an inspired move, should it prove to be true.

Ricketts is currently a free agent, having had his contract paid up by the Essex club.

We will await developments with interest.

Walsall Youths Go Top

neilr @ 9:24 am Sunday 22 October 2006

It turned out to be an even better day for the club yesterday than the win at Accrington suggests.

Chester City’s Youth Team were beaten 2-0 by Walsall on Saturday morning.

This was only Chester’s second defeat in eight games and it saw second placed Walsall leapfrog them to top the Puma Youth Alliance North West B Conference.

FT: Walsall Youth 2 Chester City Youth 0

Accrington vs Walsall Smash and Grab

neilr @ 5:12 pm Saturday 21 October 2006

The Saddlers failed to get off to a good start at the beginning of the second half, as their tempo dropped, inviting the home team on.

The main fault was again the central midfield, where we failed to get a grip on the game, despite DD changing things, moving Gerrard to centre back, Dann to right back and Pead into the middle of the park.

Ian Roper, however, was immense. Despite picking up a couple of knocks (as usual), his marshalling of the back line was exemplary as Walsall repelled wave after wave of Accrington attacks.

Eventually, pressure had to tell as Stanley won a (dubious, in the opinion of the Fay Controller) free kick right on the edge of the box. Ian Craney stepped up and hit his shot around the wall into the top corner.

The Walsall of the last few seasons would have collapsed at this point, but not Dicky Dosh’s men. With just over five minutes to go, he replaced the tiring Constable with Demontagnac. Almost immediately, Ishy got away dowm the left and flun ghis cross over. mark Wright got something on the ball (the Fat Controller thinks iot may even have been his backside) and the ball trickled over the line for three points on a ground where others will struggle this season.

Not a vintage performance, in fact far from it, but job done.

Accrington vs Walsall Half Time

neilr @ 4:04 pm Saturday 21 October 2006

The suprise for the Saddlers this afternoon was the starting line up. It had emerged on WM last night that Martin Butler was carrying a knock and he was duly replaced by James Constable. Skipper Michael Dobson was, however, also missing from the sixteen and Gerrard moved into midfield in his spot, with Roper returning at the back.

The first half, however, was a story of that new look midfield not working, according to the Fat Controller at the ground.

Keates and Gerrard were struggling to cope with a neat looking Accrington side and the fact that Clayton Ince seemd to be having one of his more indecisive days didn’t help. That said, most of the home side’s attacking threat was from set pieces and they were failing to make any clear cut chances.

The Saddlers also looked incapable of producig much, until, and somewhat against the run of play, Gerrard spread a pass out the left wing, in came the cross, Constable’s looping header was tipped onto the bar and Hector Sam was on hand, as all good strikers are, to knock home the rebound.

Half Time Accrington Stanley 0 Walsall 1

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