Archive for August, 2007

Walsall Sign Another Junior!

Neil @ 3:08 pm Friday 31 August 2007

Richard Money seems bent on making himself unpopular with the press, in that he certainly likes keeping his cards close to his chest.

Just a couple of days after saying there’d be no signings before the deadline, he’s gone out this afternoon and signed up Joao Batista Mawete (otherwise known as “Mawete Junior” in Portugal and at International level).

The former Benfica striker has been given a four month contract to prove himself, having made his debut for the Portuguese giants at the age of 18 and gaining caps for Angola at under 21, under 23 and full International level.

He left Benfica for Sporting Braga and had dropped off the radar a little of late, but was very highly rated as a 21 year old.

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Gillingham vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:31 pm Friday 31 August 2007

The Priestfield Stadium is where it all started, really. There we were, having struggled badly through the end of the previous season, finishing in a very lowly position, a new team hastily assembled team of journeymen and has beens (and the odd foreign import), managed by an unknown with no record in management at all. No wonder the papers and the bookies had us as favourites to go down that season. Trouble is, the Manager was Ray Graydon, we won 1 – 0 that day and the rest is history. Nothing has ever been boring about Walsall football club since.

Richard Money’s dilemma tomorrow is going to be finding a system that will give us goals. We didn’t play well against Swansea last week, but didn’t play that badly either, and certainly had the chances to have drawn, or even won the game. Trouble is, we didn’t look like taking them.

Hopefully Tommy Mooney will have recovered and passed his fitness test today, but we have an otherwise clean bill of health, with Gerrard in for the suspended Roper the only major change. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 4 5 1 even if Mooney is fit, however, with Wrack or Demontagnac in the “hole”.

The likely line up is:

Ince, Weston, Gerrard, Dann, Boertien, Hall, Dobson, Sonner, Wrack, Demontagnac, Butler.

Manny Smith might well come in as cover on the bench, or he could take the risk of using Bradley, who can play centre half, as well as midfield. The usual suspects of Bossu, Sonko, Caneiro plus Mooney are likely to make up most of the bench.

Ronnie Jepson, the Gillingham Manager, will be without Efe Sodje, who is suspended. He also has some key players waiting for fitness tests in central defender Simon King (hamstring), defender Aaron Brown (leg), striker David Graham (leg) and striker Gary Mulligan (ankle).

Predictions?

We may have had a bad start to the season, but be glad you’re not a Gills fan. Three League games played, three lost (one to very unfancied Cheltenham) and only one goal scored, in a 3 – 1 defeat at Luton.

On that record, we aren’t going to get many better chances to get off the mark than tomorrow and I fancy us to sneak a win.

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Gillingham

neilr @ 7:38 am Friday 31 August 2007

The fixture computer has kindly handed us a trip to the garden of England in late summer. Unfortunately Gillingham is that bit of overgrown hard-standing behind the potting shed.

However, a warm welcome can generally be found amongst the diminutive terraced houses, and none more so than the Will Adams public house tucked away down Saxton Street just off the High Street, where the excellent welcoming atmosphere is matched by the standard of beverage and cheap bar menu.

There are several pubs within a few minutes walk of the ground, with The Livingstone Arms standing out as the away pub of choice. Although often extremely busy the bar-staff remain switched on with service of somewhat more basic brews and sandwiches, not to mention free snacks!. The Livingstone also has the advantage of being adjacent to away end, bookies, and a decent chippy.

For those arriving by train the Britannia offers an immediate if basic opportunity for sustenance and is ok for a swifty in preference to the other pubs at that end of The High St.

If nothing has changed since our last visit then beer is one of many things unavailable to away fans parting with 20 match-day pounds to enter the stadium, the others being a roof or even a stand worthy of the name, or decent toilet facilities. It seems strange that visiting supporters at Priestfield have to put up with these “facilities” year after year considering how well equipped and under-populated the rest of the ground can be.

I once accompanied a disabled supporter in the Medway stand and the facilities were first class, and for run of the mill games like ours I just don’t see why away fans can’t be given a couple of blocks elsewhere ala Rochdale, Orient, Carlisle, Stockport etc.

Shame on you GFC.

Walsall vs Swansea City Preview

Neil @ 1:34 pm Friday 24 August 2007

Of course, the football doesn’t really matter on Saturday.

Fans tend to get very involved in the fate of their teams, not to mention lost in a tribal intensity that can even go to far at times, but, it has to be said, football is only a game in the end.

The tragic death of Walsall schoolboy Anton Reid this week at the impossibly young age of 16 should make every single person at the Banks’s Stadium tomorrow ponder on what we should value above all things in life.

Anton lost his life on the football field doing the only thing he wanted to, doing something that any of us would have wanted to, getting a shot at making a success of the thing he loved most of all – football.

Tomorrow’s game will start with a gesture of respect to the young man, tragically lost, but let’s all remember that, in the end, it is only a game and football isn’t worth anyone’s life.

The match?

I think we’ll get off the mark, win-wise, tomorrow, but that isn’t what the day will be about.

Orient vs Walsall Full Time

neilr @ 5:21 pm Saturday 18 August 2007

The Fat Controller says he just doesn’t believe how we managed to lose this one.

Before the season started, we both said that our main worry wasn’t going to be making chances, but taking them, and that certainly proved to be the case today.

Apart from one loss of concentration to give away the goal, the defense was as solid as a rock in the second half, while the midfield dominated. Even Hall and Wrack were getting over plenty of crosses (in the words of the Fat Controller, probably more than we managed in the previous ten games), but no one looked like converting any of them.

Carneiro was the main culprit, missing the easiest of shooting chances with twenty minutes to go, but Bradley, on for the tiring Weston and Demontagnac also missed excellent opportunities towards the end.

Money has already said that he wants to strengthen the strike force, if possible, this game showed just how necessary that is, either before the window closes, or by use of a loan.

Man of the Match? A few candidates, including Ince for his penalty save, but the Fat Controller’s award goes to the outstanding Danny Sonner.

Orient vs Walsall Half Time

neilr @ 4:06 pm Saturday 18 August 2007

Yes, the Fat Controller returns with his first on the spot report of the season from Brisbane Road.

Richard Money bought in Weston for his debut and Roper for Gerrard, with Wrack moving to the left wing in place of Fox, in his promised changes for the first away league game of the season. According to the Fat Controller, it has been working so far.

The back four has looked very, very good, with both Weston and Boertien looking a cut above this level and the midfield unit has worked well, seeming to have a much much better balance with Wrack out wide.

Our problems today have come up front, where the ball just is not sticking and Carneiro is looking the weakest link there.

The Fat Controller does report, however, that Walsall were much the better side for the first half an hour and were a little unfortunate that our efforts didn’t bring greater reward.

The high spot of the half, however, was late on when Orient finally woke up and the referee gave a harsh penalty for a tackle by Dann that looked outside the box, only for Ince to save brilliantly from the in form Adam Boyd, then saving again from the rebound.

Changes may be needed in the second half, so the ball stands more chance of being held up up front.

Orient vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:01 pm Friday 17 August 2007

Before the start of the season, we’d have been looking forward to this Saturday’s trip to North London. Orient were looking like one of the favourites to struggle (and still might turn out to be), but, typically, we’re off to meet them when they are in a rich vein of form. With Richard Money hinting that changes are likely to be made to the starting sixteen, this could turn out to be an interesting afternoon!

Richard Money has some decisions to make for the Walsall line up.

Clayton Ince will start in goal, of course, but there may be other changes in defence. Rhys Weston may well make his debut in place of Darren Wrack, who, despite his excellent efforts, has struggled to cope as a temporary full back at this level, and Ian Roper is pushing for a start. It’s likely the centre backs will be the same, but if there are changes, Scott Dann is a shoe in to start.

The centre of the midfield will probably be the same, in Sonner and Dobson, but the remaining four positions are full of possibilities. Sonko or Hall? Demontagnac or Fox (or will Demontagnac start up front in a 4 4 1 1?), Butler or Mooney or Carneiro?

I think the line up is likely to be:

Ince, Weston, Dann, Gerrard, Boertien, Sonko, Dobson, Sonner, Fox, Mooney, Demontagnac in a 4 5 1/4 4 1 1.

That means a bench out of of Bossu, Butler, Hall, Deeney, Bradley, Smith, Roper and Wrack.

As for Orient, Manager Martin Lyng has had a busy summer and anyone who saw them last season will have difficulty recognising the side.

Out have gone John Mackie (Brentford); former Dingle Shane Tudor (Port Vale); Justin Miller (Port Vale); Donny Barnard (out of contract); Derek Duncan (Wycombe Wanderers); Phil Mulryne (out of contract); Glynn Garner (Shrewsbury Town); Adam Tann (Notts County); Gary Alexander (Millwall); Craig Easton (Swindon Town); Luke Guttridge (Colchester United); Matt Lockwood (Nottingham Forest)

In to replace them have come Stephen Purches (Bournemouth); Tamika Mkandawire (Hereford United); JJ Melligan (Cheltenham Town); Paul Terry (Yeovil Town); Stuart Nelson (Brentford); Sean Thornton (Doncaster Rovers); Wayne Gray (Yeovil Town); Adam Boyd (Luton Town); and Charlie Danielson on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.

Mkandawire, a useful central defender, might well prove vital amongst those players bought in, as their defence was very leaky last season, as will Melligan and Terry (brother of John, of course) in midfield, but the big success so far has been Adam Boyd, with two in two games and finding his scoring touch after a nightmare spell with Luton. That’s helped Orient to two excellent away wins, at relegated Southend and at QPR in the Cup.

Predictions?

This is going to be a hard one to call. Money is still waiting to field his strongest line up, what with injuries and suspension, while Orient will be full of confidence following wins away against South East rivals. I really can’t see us coming away from Brisbane Road with anything and have to say a point would be a very, very good result.

Geordie’s Pub Guide To Orient

Neil @ 1:22 pm Thursday 16 August 2007

Here we go again….or maybe not for some, as we haven’t visited this corner of London save for a midweek trip in the tin-pot trophy for what seems like decades.

Leyton Orient, despite its proximity to the city, the involvement of Barry Hearn and the impending Olympic explosion on its doorstep remains the poor relation of inner London football. Fortunately this makes a trip to Brisbane Road one of the friendliest the capital has to offer. However, disappointingly for a traditional stadium there aren’t that many pubs in close proximity.

If you are alighting at Leyton underground station then heading for the ground, turning right up Leyton High Road, the first pub you will come across is in fact the nearest to the ground, namely the Coach and Horses. This is a typical rough and ready football pub, although probably friendlier than it appears at first sight, predictably busy, although like most pubs in the area hand pulled beer is available in the guise of Adnams and London Pride.

However if real ale and a quieter environment are top priority then try heading left out of the Tube station and down a set of steps to Goodall Road, then left into Langthorne Road where after about a 3 minute walk you encounter The Birbeck free house, which is about 10-12 minutes walk from the ground. This establishment boasts a pleasant and spacious outdoor beer garden for lovers of fresh air and nicotine alike.

For supporters arriving at Midland Road station on the High Road on the other side of the stadium, The Three Blackbirds offers the most immediate opportunity for sustenance prior to the 15 minute walk to the ground, and is probably the best bet for food.

There are a couple of other places dotted within a 10-15 minute walk, the pick of which is probably The Northcote on Grove Green Lane, a small traditional east-end boozer with memorabilia and big screen sports.

Honourable mention to the supporters club bar located in the West Stand, which for a pound entry offers a good choice of ales at reasonable prices, but as usual with these establishments entry cannot be guaranteed.

Swansea City vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:58 pm Tuesday 14 August 2007

With day one of the League programme over, it’s nice to get away from the pressures of the bread and butter stuff with a nice easy tie in one of the Cup competitions. Naturally enough, being Walsall, that’s what we didn’t get when we pulled Swansea City out of the hat.

Richard Money, strangely enough, doesn’t have many real decisions to make for the game, if any. Ince will keep his place in goal and three of the back four pick themselves, with Gerrard, Dann and Boertien. His choice will be whether to bring in the recovering Rhys Weston in place of Darren Wrack at right back and, possibly, he might just decide to give Ian Roper a run out out in place of Dann or Gerrard.

Hall, Sonner, Dobson and Fox also pick themselves, with Demontagnac still suspended and Sonko injured, unless he decides to give Alex Nicholls or Mark Bradley a game.

Up front, if Carneiro is injured (although there has been no news about yesterday’s reports, so it might have just been a scare) and Butler fit, then I’d expect Butler and Mooney to be together. Deeney is the option if Butler doesn’t make it.

As for Swansea, they have had a few changes over the summer, mainly to their strike force. Out have gone Andy Oakes, Izzy Iriekpen, Tom Williams, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Pawel Abbott and Lee Trundle, to be replaced by Matty Collins, Jason Scotland, Guillem Bauza Mayol, Ferrie Bodde, Darryl Duffy and Angel Rangel

Their form is likely to depend on how well the two Spaniards settle in, along with Jason Scotland, who has a good scoring record north of the border. That, however, doesn’t always mean that a player does well in the English Leagues straight away. They will also have to get over the loss of the talismanic Lee Trundle. Whatever the merits of Trundle as a player, he was undoubtably a hero with the fans and, I think they won’t be showing much patience if they are slow off the mark in front of goal.

Predictions?

The question, of course, is whether their manager, former Saddler Roberto Martinez, sees the League Cup as any sort of priority when getting out of the Division has to be their main aim. They are, yet again, amongst the favourites for promotion and the pressure will be intense on them this season. Because of that, it really is impossible to say what kind of starting eleven we might see from them tonight, so I’ll be sitting well and truly on the fence and won’t commit myself to any score at all!

Carneiro Blow?

Neil @ 10:54 am Monday 13 August 2007

UTS has heard that Carlos Carneiro, who started up front for the Saddlers in their first game of the season on Saturday in place of Martin Butler, has been taken to the Manor Hospital this morning for x rays on a suspected broken arm.

If this turns out to be a serious injury, then it makes the need for the signing of a striker imperative before the end of the transfer window on the 31st of this month.

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