Archive for February, 2007

Confusion Over Ex Bolton Player

Neil @ 3:05 pm Wednesday 28 February 2007

Despite a story circulating from a Plymouth fan’s site that former Bolton full back Anthony Barness was told by Richard Money that he was not in the Walsall Manager’s plans, the Evening Mail is saying something quite different.

The Plymouth Vital site says that Barness was told the bad news after the reserve game by Money, yet the local paper here is saying that they are due to meet to discuss options, the exact quote being:

“He came through 90 minutes of last night’s impressive 2-0 reserve win at Blues and was due to meet Money to discuss the next step”.

We await developments with interest.

Barness for Bolton

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Talking Balls

Neil @ 11:52 am Wednesday 28 February 2007

The Supporters’ Trust has been contacted by Supporters Direct, asking them to publicise an event happening at Bescot shortly.

It’s a play by the Federation of Stadium Communities and Women & Theatre called ‘Talking Balls’ and it is, unsurprisingly, about men’s health.

The play is being produced at several football clubs in the West Midlands, including Vale Park, Gay Meadow, The New Bucks Head, Villa Park, Aggborough, Molineux, The Hawthorns and the Ricoh Arena.

The Walsall production will be on Friday 16th March at 2.00 pm and 7.30 pm and tickets are free. Unfortunately, it’s over 16s only, though!

Talking Balls

Derby\’s Jackson It Is!

neilr @ 1:45 pm Tuesday 27 February 2007

The Express and Star have revealed that the player Richard Money is intending to bring in on loan is Derby County’s Richard Jackson.

The former Scarborough trainee was believed to be lined up as cover for the defense, following the long term injury to Ian Roper, but, unfortunately, picked up a knee injury in training last week. If this is confirmed as medial ligament damage, then that will put paid to any move, as Money was hoping to bring in central defensive cover before the trip to Darlington.

Richard Jackson was signed by Derby from non-league Scarborough in 1999 after 2 years with the club. He made only two appearances for the club in his first season-both as a sub – and he didn’t break into the first team until 2003, when he won the clubs young player of the year award making 21 appearances. Jackson was a regular in the side over the next couple of years and he made his 100th appearance in August 2005.

Jackson

Hartlepool Run To End!

neilr @ 10:13 am Tuesday 27 February 2007

Yes, the fantastic run that Hartlepool have been on looks like ending this week, as Danny Wilson seems to be a nailed on certainty for the Divisional Manager of the Month.

‘Pools have won all five games in February, including wins against their promotion rivals, in the shape of the Saddlers and Swindon away. The MoM award this season, however, has been even more of a poison chalice then ever, as it seems to have been followed by a major or minor slump in form for every recipient.

Wilson is up against Darlington boss Dave Penney, Stockport’s Jim Gannon and Shrewsbury’s Gary Peters and the winner will be announced on Thursday morning by Chris Kamara.

Walsall vs Barnet. A Bit Of Class Shows

neilr @ 8:19 pm Saturday 24 February 2007

Well, it took a while for the team to settle down, with the introduction of two new players, in the shape of Kevin Harper and Kevin Cooper, but, once it did, this became an emphatic win for the Saddlers.

For the first thirty minutes or so of this game, it was a stop/start kind of affair, with an over fussy referee not helping. Despite not managing to get any free flowing movement going however, Walsall were making the better opportunities.
Cooper, whose touches showed his class from the start, went close when the ‘keeper just managed to get to a through ball before he did, then Cooper again cut inside from the left to fire just over with his “wrong” foot.

Kevin Harper was the next to that bit of extra class, making just enough room out on the right to whip in a superb cross onto the head of Butler, who, unfortunately, just found the goalkeeper.

We were just starting to get into our stride at this point, only to be knocked out of it completely, when Dann slipped to let Oliver Allen in to fire home for his second goal in his second full appearance. His “hand to ear” celebration right in front of the home fans endeared him to no one, however, and his notoriety grew a few minutes later when he appeared to have a “dig” at Ince as he saved at his feet.

Fans were a little worried about fragile confidence at this point, but needn’t have been. Cooper and Harper switched wings for the second or third time in the half and Cooper whipped in a left foot cross from the right wing which was turned into his own net by Hendon. The half then finished with a low drive from Cooper, saved at the second attempt.

It seemed to me at half time that all we needed to do was give Harper and Cooper time on the ball to win this, but the second half became more than just that. Whatever Richard Money said to them worked as Dobson, especially, and Keates took complete control of the midfield.

First Dobson danced past a couple of challenges before firing just over, then Hector Sam was put in, only to fire just wide from a narrow angle.

With the Saddlers beginning to dominate, the lead wasn’t long in coming. Cooper broke down the right to win a corner. It was cleared, but only for Barnet to concede a free kick and Keates whipped the ball in for Dobson to score with a lovely glancing header.

At this point, the tiring Hector Sam, who had had another very good game, was replaced by Wright, with Harper going up front.

Barnet tried to get forward now, but that proved to be their undoing. Ince made a catch from a cross and saw Harper in space. A deft underarm throw sent the winger speeding away. He then ran half the length of the pitch, before exchanging passes with Butler and touching the ball past Burch into the net. A quite exquisite goal.

Ince then decided to have his customary “silly” moment, dropping the ball from a cross, but the defence got their bodies back admirably.

A Keates free kick was then headed back across goal by Harper and Gerrard was unlucky not to score, before Cooper won another corner. Keates put this one to the back post and, when the ball was headed back across, there was Harper to lash it into the roof of the net.

Sinclair missed a decent headed chance for the visitors before, in injury time, Mark Wright went on a jinking run before curling his left foot shot narrowly wide.

This was far from being the perfect performance, as the defence looked a little shaky at times, but Dobson was superb in the second half as he and Keates benefited from having some options out wide. Butler and Sam always looked dangerous, but Cooper and Harper oozed class and looked far too good for this Division. I think we may be back on track.

Walsall vs Barnet Preview

Neil @ 1:58 pm Friday 23 February 2007

Richard Money has been showing commendable faith in his squad so far, despite the blip in form, but the time has now come to act. With the loan regulations as they stand, we can now bring in players on long term loans to cover the remainder of the season and that is exactly what he has done, in an attempt to act from what is still a position of strength. Let’s hope it starts to bear fruit at home to Barnet tomorrow.

The club have already announced that Kevin Harper will go straight into the 16 for the game at Bescot, but it remains to be seen whether Kevin Cooper will as well. With DD obviously seeing the flanks as the major weakness, it’s likely that both wingers will get a start, a tantalising prospect to say the least. I hope for their sake that the Barnet full backs are up to scratch, as I think that Cooper and Harper could have a devastating impact at this level, if they are anything like up to form.

The injury to Ian Roper on Tuesday night was a blow the team could well have done without, especially as it now seems that he’s likely to be out for the rest of the season. Whatever our best centre back partnership is, of those available to Dicky Dosh, Roper is certainly one of the two names you first think of.

If the 16 is anyone’s guess, the starting eleven will be even more so, but I’d be looking at something like:

Ince, Westwood, Gerrard, Dann, Fox, Harper, Dobson, Keates or Pead, Cooper, Butler, Sam.

The bench would then look consist (probably) of:

Bossu, Lyall, Wright, Cederqvist and Pead or Keates.

All of that, of course, supposes that there won’t be any further reinforcements announced this afternoon. With the news about Roper and Picken still not ready, a defender arriving wouldn’t be out of the question.

As for Barnet, they will be without Ismail Yakubu, as the centre back picked up a thigh strain last week and former Mansfield striker Adam Birchall is unlikely to be fit, after his lay off. Goalkeeper Lee Harrison will still be missing as well.

Barnet is hardly a team full of household names, with striker Grazioli, veteran Paul Warhurst (once of Manchester City, Bolton and Oldham amongst many others) and former Gillingham player-manager Andy Hessenthaler the only really well known players. The 40-odd year old Hessenthaler was a sub on Tuesday night and plays most of his games nowadays coming off the bench, but Warhurst has been a regular this season. Partnering Grazioli in the last game was one interesting player, in the shape of Oliver Allen, son of ex Spurs and QPR prolific scorer, Clive Allen. He scored his first goal for the club in what was his first full appearance, needless to say.

Predictions?

Well, Barnet certainly did us a favour on Tuesday night, by defeating Swindon 1 – 0 at Underhill, but that was their first win in seven games, as Paul Fairclough’s team have struggled this season.

They have an away record of :

Played 17, Won 3, Drawn 6, Lost 8, For 16, Against 26, points 15.

Although they have lost fewer than half the games they’ve played away, a mere 16 goals from 17 games tells its own story. I’ll go for a home win, with a long afternoon in store for their full backs.

Cooper

Harper

Cardiff’s ex Wolves Winger Joins

Neil @ 11:34 am Friday 23 February 2007

The second arrival in the mid season revolution has arrived at Bescot, in the shape of former Wolves winger Kevin Cooper.

The left winger has been at Cardiff recently, but has been unable to break his way into the team at the Championship high flyers.

Like yesterday’s arrival, Kevin Harper, he started out in England at Derby County, before moving to Stockport County. He later went to Wolves and Wimbledon in big money transfers.

It would seem that Richard Money has decided that the wings are the major problem in our current lack of creativity.

Former Loanee To Return

neilr @ 7:39 pm Wednesday 21 February 2007

Besides the rumours on the message board and Sky Sports News, UTS had already heard from one of our usually reliable sources that we are in the process of bringing in former loanee Kevin Harper on loan and the story has now been confirmed by the Stoke Official website.

The tricky little ex Derby, Pompey and Stoke man was one of our more successful loan signings in recent years, impressing with a series of appearances in what is now the Championship. He was so impressive that his loan was curtailed when Portsmouth made a successful £300,000 bid for the player, who was an integral part of their Championship winning team, scoring one of the goals at Bescot in their 2 – 1 win. he spent much of that season playing at left wing back, in fact, showing an ability to play down either flank, although he made his name as a right winger.

Since signing for Stoke, he has had problems with injuries, which meant he could not break into the side and was sent out on loan to Carlisle last year.

At this level, he will be an extremely welcome addition to the squad.

Harper at Pompey

Geordie\’s Pub Guide to Stockport

neilr @ 9:22 pm Monday 19 February 2007

I always feel that Walsall and Stockport have a lot in common. Despite being amongst the largest towns in the country, they are of course in the perennial shadows of more illustrious neighbours, especially in the football sense. Despite this however both places have an identity distinct from their “city” neighbours, including an independent brewery (Stockport’s being Robinson’s).

Stocky fans are also generally a friendly bunch IMO, and tropical storms apart I’ve always found the trip to be an enjoyable experience.

As this is a night game I’ll keep the guide to those pubs near the ground which is in the separate suburb of Edgeley as distinct to Stockport town centre, in fact to be even more specific Castle Street, which offers just about everything you need for pre-match boozers.

In reverse order of merit The Jolly Crofter, although recently refurbed was so jolly on my last visit that I walked out after waiting 25 minutes to not be served.

The Armoury has always been a pleasant and very traditional Robinson’s pub although again I found the service to be pretty woeful to be honest, while The Robert Peel is also busy and welcoming, but very limited in its choice of ales.

For me the place to go for a good few years has been the Royal Oak on the corner of Castle Street, the one pub that seems able to mix atmosphere, quality and choice, service, and proximity to the ground. A good all round pre-match pub, especially suited to a Tuesday night when time might be at a premium and one doesn’t fancy doing much wandering. Although of course it is a couple of years since my last visit, when we actually won an away game under the previous regime!!

Let’s hope tomorrow night’s nervous pre-match supping gives way to the same euphoric abandonment that accompanied that never to be forgotten occasion.

Stockport County vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 2:03 pm Monday 19 February 2007

A turnaround in fortunes is becoming somewhat urgent as the pack has closed right in. Richard Money is making noises about the need to bring in reinforcements, and is looking at the loan market for (unsurprisingly) a central midfielder and a winger, according to the Express and Star, but the good news is that at least the gap between the play off teams and the rest is already a chasm at 8 points (18 for us). The top seven have broken away, now is the time to make sure we stay in that top three.

There is no team news as yet from either camp, as the Official Sites are keeping mum as the teams assess the effects of the weekend games. Walsall will be hoping that Gerrard will have returned to fitness to give us more options at the back, but it’s not really that part of the field that Saddlers’ fans will be most worried about.

Hopefully, Michael Dobson will have recovered from his illness for the game and it’s difficult to see him playing that badly again, but there are question marks about all of the midfield. Pead doesn’t seem to have the same impact when he starts there, compared to when he comes on or moved there for the second half, as on Friday night, Keates was completely ineffectual in that game and neither Wright nor Fox ever looked like creating anything. Of the possible replacements, Wrack didn’t do much when he came on, Bedeau has still not found any form and Demontagnac proved in his 45 minutes in the previous home game that he’s not ready yet.

I think that Dicky Dosh may yet be tempted to go for a 4 5 1 (or 4 4 1 1) tomorrow night, which would be hard luck on Hector Sam if he were to be left out, as he was one of the better performers in the Lincoln game, but it would give Money the chance to bolster the misfiring midfield by bringing in the likes of Lyall.

Predictions?

This is the third of what has been a really difficult run of games. Hartlepool away, when they had, at the time, taken a grand total of 41 points from the previous 45 (now 47 from 51 available), Lincoln, the Division’s top scorers away from home, and now Stockport away. Stockport, I hear you say, why Stockport?

Well, they are, if anything, THE form side of the moment, even more so than Hartlepool, having won seven League games on the bounce and their last six home games in succession. If they were to win on Tuesday night they would equal a club record for successive home wins.

County, with their 1 – 0 win at Accrington on Saturday, also set a new club record of seven clean sheets on the trot, the first time they have ever done that within a season, so they are not easy to score against, either.

This is the most difficult of fixtures in the circumstances and it’s difficult to see us coming away from Edgeley Park with anything – which probably means a win, knowing us!

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