Archive for November, 2008

Walsall vs Swindon Preview

Neil @ 1:27 pm Friday 28 November 2008

It seems to be one crisis match after another just at the moment, as the Saddlers welcome Swindon to the Banks’s Stadium, in what is their game in hand on the rest of the Division. We are, at the moment, nine points behind Scunthorpe (in the last of the play off places) and six points ahead of Yeovil (in the last of the relegation places). It’s easy to see from that what the consequences of yet another home defeat (the fourth in a row, remember) might bring. It’s certainly difficult to see this team, in it’s current state, managing 17 games undefeated in a row, like we managed last season and we are uncomfortably close to the bottom should that home form fail to improve.

That brings us to the vexed question of team selection.

Gilmartin will be in goal (Ince will be out for three to four weeks), with new signing Kajtezovic on the bench.

Roberts missed the game on Tuesday and we don’t know if he’ll be fit, so the back four should be Weston, Gerrard, Smith and Boertien, but I think we can safely assume that Palmer will find his way in there somehow.

Dwayne Mattis is the doubt in midfield, with his back problems, and, I suspect, we’ll line up Taundry, Hughes, Bradley, Nicholls if he doesn’t make it.

Up front, everyone will be hoping for the return of Jabo Iberhe, but expect Deeney to replace him should he not make it.

As for Swindon, striker Barry Corr is rated at 50/50 for the game having suffered a knock to his calf in training. David Byrne will be able to include Craig Easton, who has recovered from his own calf problem, however.

They did line up in their last game like this:

Phil Smith, Jack Smith, Aljofree, Kanyuka, Timlin, McGovern, Pook, Peacock, McNamee, Paynter, Cox.

Subs: Brezovan, Ifil, Easton, Joyce, Nalis.

The familiar names there are old enemy Jon Paul McGovern, Lee Peacock (the player Merson was so sure of signing that he had no Plan B and we ended up with Barrowman instead), ex Leicester and Plymouth midfielder Lilian Nalis and former Liverpool youngster and ex Port Fail striker Billy Paynter. Former Saddler Jamie Vincent is a long term injury absentee. The dangerman, however, is Cox, who has 16 goals in all competitions this season, including three hat tricks.

Predictions?

Swindon are sitting 18th in the table with nineteen 19 points from 17 games played. Duke’s form guide to the last six games is:

Northampton – home – won 2-1
Oldham – home – won 2-0
Scunthorpe – away – drew 3-3
Leicester – home – drew 2-2
Bristol Rover – away – drew 2-2
Peterborough – home drew 2-2

Swindon’s last league defeat was Southend away (2-1), on 18/10/08 (although they have suffered 2 cup defeats 1-0 away at Histon in the FA Cup and 2-0 at Brighton in the JP Trophy).

They have recovered well from a poor start and will provide stiff opposition, but, with the players knowing that we are in the last chance saloon for this season, I think we’ll win this one.

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Kajtezovic Is Only Signing

Neil @ 8:10 am Friday 28 November 2008

Despite, by his own account, being constantly on the phone for two days trying to bring in the defender most fans would have said we needed from day one, Walsall’s only signing before the loan window closed wasn’t even a loan. It is out of contract Austrian keeper Albin Kajtezovic.

The player, who has dual Austrian/Bosnian nationality and is a former Austrian under 21 International, is 22 and just over six feet. He was, of course, on trial with us pre season, but didn’t sign at that time.

He spent last season at Austrian 2nd Division SC Parndorf, playing some 25 games, but has had no football since the end of that season.

His previous clubs were also in the lower reaches of Austrian football, being at ASKO Pasching for 5 months in 2004 and at FC Lusternau in 2005/07.

The move is subject to International clearance.

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roger6 @ 11:07 am Thursday 27 November 2008

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Oldham Athletic vs Walsall

Neil @ 9:06 am Wednesday 26 November 2008

A poor turnout from the away contingent tonight (hardly surprising, in view of the weather and a trip into the Arctic tundra) saw the Saddlers slip to another seemingly inevitable defeat.

The starting eleven saw, yet again, two left backs on the bench and a right winger at left back, with two strikers on the wings:-

Gilmartin, Weston, Gerrard, Smith, Palmer, Deeney, Taundry , Hughes, Mattis ,Nicholls, Ricketts.

Subs: Boertien, Sansara, Zaaboub, Reich, Bradley.

More bad news came in the first half, with Mattis picking up a knock and being replaced by Bradley after 22 minutes, but there was also a completely inexplicable substitution as well, with Reich’s appearance being left to the first minute of injury time in a game we were losing.

Mel58 gives an eyewitness account: “128 of us (according to the OAFC announcer) in a crowd of 3,900 odd.

Their 1st goal – a wicked deflection that gave Gilmartin no chance. Surreal to go 2 – 1 up in less time than it took me to text the news of our 1st goal to my mates. We never looked comfortable or confident though.

OAFC again played the sort of intricate, passing football that has become their hallmark under Sheridan’s management but they didn’t have the decisive ‘cutting edge’ that separates them from the best teams in the division. We had some good opportunities – notably from Ricketts’ passes or through balls that weren’t anticipated by his less ‘gifted’ team mates, but we never seemed likely to hang on to our lead.

Their 2nd and 3rd goals were virtually identical – both 3 foot tap-ins by Lee Hughes in the centre of the goal from left-wing crosses. This was bad enough the first time, but they made a point of attacking down our right side throughout the game and I’d have hoped the lesson would have been learned by half – time.

Chris Palmer, who played at left back tonight, put a solid shift in. Gilmartin did well. He couldn’t be blamed for the goals and made a couple of good saves. Hughes did well to last the 90 and never gave up.

Overall, a disappointing night, on which we promised to deliver more than expected but ultimately played to form. The potential is obviously there but isn’t being fully harnessed. Reich was brought on in the first minute of 4 minutes of injury time – I don’t see what purpose that served. Zaaboub made a slightly longer, though no more effective, appearance. We still appear too predictable and seem bereft of confidence”.

This defeat, for the “glass half full” supporters, leaves us bang in the middle of the table, in eleventh place, nine points outside the play off zone, with a game in hand and sporting a zero goal difference. For the pessimists, we are now just six points above the relegation places, with some form teams below us and, since the start of October, we have picked up a grand total of eight points from the 27 available. It seems Saturday and the game in hand is now crucial.

Oldham Athletic vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 3:35 pm Monday 24 November 2008

Anything could happen tomorrow, I suppose. On the back of our seventh home defeat in eleven games, a trip up the M6 to the desolate and frigid wasteland, huddled under the brooding menace of Saddleworth moor, that is Oldham, should be the most unwelcome of trips. (My, but that was getting all a bit “Hard Times” or “Wuthering Heights” there for a minute, wasn’t it?). However, Mullen’s “hoofball” tactics have caused our opponents a few problems away from home this season so far. A good job, as our home form is almost bottom four (Hereford, in 22nd place, have only got one less home point than we have).

What makes things more problematic still, however, is the likely absence of injury victims Ince, Roberts, Hughes and Iberhe. How that will leave the starting eleven is anyone’s guess (other than the fact that Mullen’s love child Palmer will, extraordinarily, be in the starting eleven). I’d guess at:

Gilmartin, Weston, Gerrard, Smith, Palmer, Nicholls, Taundry, Mattis, Zaaboub, Ricketts, Deeney.

Mind you, he’s probably blame Weston’s slip for the first goal on Satruday for the whole sorry shambles and drop him, with Palmer moving to right back and Boerien back in. Oh, I don’t know.

Oldham will be without supposed one time Walsall target (back in the Merson era) Reuben Hazell, as the defender serves a one-match ban after collecting his fifth yellow card of the campaign. That could mean a recall for veteran Sean Gregan, making up the former Bag Lady contingent with Lee Hughes. Deane Smalley (hip) and Danny Whitaker (ankle) remain out.

The dangermen for Oldham are, of course, the aforementioned Lee Hughes (scorer on Saturday) and, of course, the on loan Darren Byfield, who has always relished his games against us since leaving. However, the scorer of the winner at the Millennium Stadium should have earned himself legendary status just for that one strike.

Predictions?

Oldham are lying in seventh place, just one point off the pay offs. Their home record is won 5, drawn 2, lost 1, scoring 19 in the process and conceding just 7. In theory, of course, with the lack of confidence Saturday’s defeat will have left us with and a patched together side, it should be a home banker – which means we’ll probably win!

Walsall vs The Franchise – Reports

Neil @ 11:02 am Sunday 23 November 2008

Well, the first forty five minutes were about as clueless a load of dross as I have ever seen from a Walsall team. The Franchise never had to get out of second gear against a Saddlers team bereft of any ideas, flair and tactics. Mullen actually managed to send out a 4 5 1 at home, which did not contain a single left footed player! This was on a “family day”, too, intedned to bring in the fans of the future, which actually worked, as the Family Stand was pretty full. It was almost empty by ninety minutes, though.

Louise spoke for many: “ABSOLUTE DROSS. I never come away early but today I did – could have sat there all night and we wouldnt have scored. We have no craft,no guile, no effort and above all no tactics ( well any that make sense!). Just awful hoof football, its painful to watch.
We missed Jabo yes but its more than just that – we are not a team. I noticed today we no longer do the ‘huddle’ at the start of the game – I know its only a small thing but it is indicative of the lack of any team spirit at all.

Later when Clayton went down and seemed to stay down not one of our players went to check he was ok – small things I know but its shows no team spirit at all and fighting qualities.

I can take losing , but not even competing is beyond it for me – as I feel tonight I’m going Christmas shopping next week cos just cant face another weekend feeling like this”.

Insane Saddler was also close to the mark: “The 1st half was the worst half of football I have ever seen ANY team play in my life! That includes Under 10′s and I’m being completely serious!

The 2nd half was a slight improvement but it couldn’t get any worst. It hurts to see what’s happening down there it really does and there is nothing it seems that can be done about it which frustrates the life out of me!”

Burnside too: “No Pattern to our play.
No Tactics to harm the opposition.
No commitment from the player.
Nothing constructive from the Bench.
No interest from the fans.
No viable options to change the game on the bench.

Marco Reich is an intelligent player. Marco Reich probably has more talent than them all put together. HE is in the ilk of Jeff Peron, Pedro Matias – that kind of player.

Palmer will not be as good a defender as Boertien as long as I’ve got a hole in my backside.

its hard to get Ricketts to put effort in as part of a twosome, let alone by himself.

Jimmy muppett, Jimmy muddle, more like Jimmy flipping Mallett”.

The positives? Whoever decided to have the scoreboard show nine blanks for the opposition name – one for each of the letters of “Wimbledon”.

Walsall vs The Franchise – Preview

Neil @ 11:54 am Friday 21 November 2008

I thought I’d try and say something nice about the Franchise this week, but I couldn’t be bothered thinking that hard.

I don’t know the latest, but I do know there was a campaign started to get them to drop the “Dons” from their name, as they really don’t have any connection left with the club known as Wimbledon. That’s a campaign I have every sympathy with!

I suppose we are stuck with them as a club now, but that doesn’t make me look forward any less to the possibility of AFC Wimbledon overtaking them in the League. As far as I am concerned, they are, and always will be, an abomination and the epitome of everything wrong with the modern game.

The word in the press seems to be that there is a reluctance from Jimmy Mullen to shuffle the pack, following last week’s win at Colchester. That’s a brave decision. Normally, changing a winning team can be the wrong think to do, but last week’s enforced absence of the suspended Jabo Iberhe meant a 4 5 1, which can be far more suited to an away game than a home one. Iberhe has now got a knee problem, apparently, which means that “no change” is the most likely line up:-

Ince, Weston, Roberts, Gerrard, Palmer, Taundry, Hughes, Mattis, Nicholls, Ricketts, Deeney.

Subs: Bradley, Gilmartin, Boertien, Reich, Zaaboub.

Personally, I’d go for a 4 4 2, (and bring Boertien back!), but we’ll see.

As for the Franchise, Kevin Gallen departed on loan to Luton despite the injury problems the Dons have had in their own forward department (although these are now clearing up).

Torre Andre Flo has joined the camp, ostensibly to train with his former team mate Roberto Di Matteo, but there is not chance of him signing yet.

The future is brighter up front now with Aaron Wilbraham getting some pitch time at Hartlepool, young Daniel Powell getting his debut goal in the same fixture and Sam Baldock returning to full training after his hamstring injury. Di Matteo has actually a bit of a selection dilemma as Ali Gerba has proved a willing worker in the absence of his colleagues.

Further back in the Dons line up Carl Regan and Jude Stirling are still struggling for fitness whilst Sturm and Swailles remain long term absentees.

On top of all of that, I suppose I ought to mention the return to the Banks’s of Mark Wright. Not one of my favourite players, but even I’ll admit a real danger on his day.

Predictions?

The Franchise go into the game in fourth place, with an away record of won 5, drawn 2 and lost just one, scoring 17 and conceding just 9 in the process. 17 goals in 8 away games is even more than they’ve managed at home, so our defence needs to be at it’s very, very best! I think this has got score draw written all over it, although the worry remains of how we will react to any tactical changes from the opposition.

Colchester 0 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 9:57 am Sunday 16 November 2008

Back to winning ways for the Saddlers yesterday at Colchester, the lads delivering a 2-0 win to lift some of the gloom – Surrey Saddler was one of 200 fans at the game and gave his views on the message board:

Just got back (one of the 200). Now I don’t want to dampen any enthusiam but by no stretch of the imagination did we play well. We had three chances and took two of them. Should have won 3 -0 but when Nichols – who played well and showed great pace – put Zaboub through, he hesitated and lost a golden opportunity. Colchester were poor, had 70% of the game, won every 50:50 ball but had no penetration. That said – I guess that means our defence played well. Still, 3 points. Let’s hope it gives the lads the confidence to push for a play off place.

Colchester United vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:09 pm Friday 14 November 2008

I hope this last two weeks, crashing out of two cup competitions, coupled with rumours of unrest and the sacking of Ishmel Demontagnac have seen us reach the pits. If we have, at least the only way from here is up, although I do think there may be worse to come.

Jimmy Mullen must be near desperate for three points at Colchester tomorrow, to alleviate some of the pressure on him (pressure which he has already admitted in the press this week), as it seems the majority of the fans have turned on him – and turned on him very quickly. With gates plummeting, the club does seem to be in meltdown.

One of the big criticisms of Mullen’s reign so far has been the lack of tactical nous and he will have a chance to change the team tomorrow. Jabo Iberhe will be missing, as he has now picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, as will, of course, the dismissed Demontagnac.

If I were him, I’d be going 4 5 1, with a line up of (considering that Jimmy’s love child Palmer would be bound to play!):

Ince, Weston, Roberts, Gerrard, Boertien, Palmer, Bradley, Hughes, Mattis, Zaaboub, Ricketts.

On his performance so far, however, we’re likely to have a 4 4 2, with Weston left out, Palmer at left back, a striker on the right wing and either Nicholls or Deeney up front!

As for the opposition, full-back Lee Hills, 18, could make his debut after arriving from Crystal Palace on a one-month loan. Dean Hammond returns from suspension, and Chris Coyne is fit again, but Steven Gillespie (hamstring) and Paul Reid (broken toe) miss out.

Their dangerman is former Walsall youngster Clive Platt, who has never managed to score against us since he left. Bloody hell, that’s an ominous thought.

Predictions?

Everything will depend on the morale of the players and their attitude to this game. Mullen’s “hoofball” tactics are better suited to away games than home games, as we can hit teams on the counter attack. Colchester have found life back in this Division difficult so far and they have only managed one win at their new home, so they ought to be vulnerable. If our players have their “heads on”, then we should win this, but, if morale is low and there is dissention in the ranks, we could be in sinking lower come tomorrow night.

Ishy Sacked

Neil @ 10:55 am Thursday 13 November 2008

The news which was circulating on the message board and on BBC 606 yesterday is true. The club have sacked Ishmel Demontagnac.

The rumours were that there had been some sort of fracas after his sending off on Saturday, which lead to him being escorted from the ground. The club statement does say that there was a police incident, which led to the arrest of the player.

The mercurial winger had shown some improvement in his temperament under Richard Money, but the that all seems to have gone by the wayside under Mullen and there was a certain inevitability about the decision. In fact, the player could have gone a long time ago, if not for his obvious talent, which looks like being wasted.

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