Archive for February, 2009

Walsall 2 Yeovil 0

roger6 @ 6:09 pm Saturday 28 February 2009

Three straight league wins for the super Saddlers, all by a 2-0 scoreline, as real signs that the Chris and Martin show are working their magic. Today a patchy first half performance of half chances was turned into a comfortable two goal victory. The only negative note were possibly injuries to Gerrard and Zaaboub which leaves Walsall looking a bit thin for the visit to Scunthorpe on Tuesday night.

Louise was at the game and offered these early reflections via the message board

Very pleased with today – we didnt set the world alight but did enough to win the game. Deeney is obviously brimming with confidence and Im sure Nicholls will be after todays goal. My highlight though has to be John Terry aka Ricketts in Central Defence! I was very worried after his first touch there but he managed to hold it together and even did a view sweeper like moves! Does highlight how much we need cover at Central defence though.

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Walsall vs Yeovil Town Preview

Neil @ 1:30 pm Friday 27 February 2009

Yeovil’s another one of those places, isn’t it? It’s like Hereford and Cheltenham – not at all the sort of place that you expect League football to be played. Football – the professional version, that is – goes with weary matchstick men trudging down rain drenched cobbled streets, past looming factory chimneys belching out smoke and soot, doesn’t it? Jumpers for goalposts and all that sort of thing. Anyway, we’ve got them tomorrow.

The last two Saturdays have bought two successive doubles and tomorrow’s game is an opportunity to continue our good run. The double isn’t on, as we drew away at the start of the season, but 4 points out of six against them would do very nicely, thank you.

Hutchings will still be without the ever not present Roberts (just 16 League games this season, out of 32 possible – and he hasn’t finished all of those), Rhys Weston, who is back in training, but unlikely to be risked, and Sam Williams, returned to Villa for treatment on his injury. Apart from that, we should be a full strength, with the main choices being, presumably, who will partner Stephen Hughes in central midfield and who will partner Ricketts up front.

Yeovil have a new player manager, in the shape of long serving Terry Skiverton (387 appearances for them in total), but he will be missing tomorrow with injury. His likely replacement will be former temporary Saddler, Aaron Brown, the man who, it is rumoured, we signed on a short term contract when Richard Money thought he was coming on trial!

Gary Roberts could start having been a substitute in midweek, on-loan Shaun MacDonald may be fit after calf trouble but Alex Prijovic is out with mumps.

Predictions?

Yeovil lie four places and six points below us in the table, so this looks good on paper. They were, however, were in even worse trouble back in January, but then went on a run of four consecutive wins, including victories at Southend and Peterborough, of all places (Aaron Brown scoring in both games)! They then, for some strange reason, sacked the manager and have drawn one and lost won since.

Having said all that, we should prove too strong for them and I’m backing us for three points in this one.

Northampton Town vs Walsall – Reports

Neil @ 8:39 pm Saturday 21 February 2009

The arrival of Hutchings and O’Connor is beginning to pay off, as the Saddlers got their second double in succession, with a victory at Northampton. Four Oaks Saddler supplies the main comments:

“Both goals were brilliantly taken, and there was some nice football at times. We also showed we were prepeared to ‘mix it’ when the game got a bit more turgid. The grit that Hutch and MO’C have brought to the squad was there for all to see.

Ince – the odd routine save but wasn’t really tested
Palmer – started OK, then reverted to the usual. Poor positioning, inability to tackle / head luckily didn’t cost us
Smith / Gerrard – coped well with the threat of the busy Clarke and the bustling Akinfenwa, save the odd lapse
Boertien – continues to impress and makes a mockery of the decision to select Palmer / Sansara ahead of him. Links up well with Zaaboub
Nicholls – struggled but showed glimpses. I think he suffers from the fact that (a) he’s not a winger (although he generally acquits himself adequately) and (b) he’s not playing in front of a recognised right back
Hughes – a true captain’s performance: broke up play, distributed well and broke superbly to net the winner
Bradley – in and out, still a shade of the Bradley of last season
Zaaboub – probably the least effect i’ve seen him recently, but still brilliant. The opposition just couldn’t cope with his direct running.
Ricketts – class. He gets criticised for not running around but when you can do what he can do, you don’t need to
Deeney – i’ll admit, i’m not a fan. But he’s slowly winning me round. Hustled and bustled to good effect

Mattis – put himself about and enabled others around him (Hughes / Zaaboub / Ricketts) to use the ball
Jabo – did what he does and scored the goal to seal victory with unusual composure
Taundry – little time to have an impact

It’s performances like this that may give us an outside hope of the play-offs. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed, although it’ll be out of hope rather than expectation.

There was no doubt in Cully’s mind who the star of the show was, either:

“New management team, tactics and the sprinkling of a few decent players including one outstanding one for this division, Michael Ricketts. His performance today was simply masterful, from tackling back in the first minute to deny some Northampton dreg a chance, albeit at the expense of a corner, to laying on both goals with defence splitting passes”.

Northampton v Walsall live blog

roger6 @ 8:14 am Saturday 21 February 2009

Coverage begins below at 2.45pm (or view in full screen)

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Northampton Town vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 9:14 am Friday 20 February 2009

Fans get to dislike certain opposition players – usually for valid reasons. The odious Kiegan Parker and Izale Mcloed spring to mind for some of their “falling over” antics in the past. The hardmen are another breed it’s difficult to warm to when they are kicking your players up in the air – but the trouble with them is you tend to like them when they are on your side. (Just what did the opposition ever make of John Keister?). There are the ex players too, of course (although Jimmy Walker’s reception at half time and at the end of the game last week show the opposite to be true as well, sometimes). Our opponents tomorrow, however, have, amongst their ranks, one I don’t like at all – for the very good reason that he’s good and always gives us problems – Adebayo Akinfenwe. Like the hard men, though, you’d like them on your side!

Hutchings and O’Connor should have a relatively easy job tomorrow. The injury to Rhys Weston and the ever present one to Stephen Roberts means that the defence picks itself, with Ince, Palmer, Smith, Gerrard, Boertien. Manny Smith certainly stepped into the breach well last week when Weston went off, so we will be hoping for a continuation of that from as the youngster develops.

We don’t know yet if Dwayne Mattis will be gracing us with his presence, but, if not, with Taundry also out, the midfield will be also picking itself, with Nicholls, Bradley, Hughes and the currently electric Zaaboub.

A goal each for Ricketts and Deeney means there should be no change up front, but Williams’s injury means a big day for Jabo Iberhe, should he get on. The big man has gone from 1st choice striker to fourth choice last week and will be desperate to impress.

Cobblers boss Stuart Gray has said he might make changes to the team that were beaten 2-1 at Oldham last Saturday, even though he will be missing three key players for our visit.

“Luke Guttridge, Ryan Gilligan and Liam Davis are all still unavailable so I can’t make as many changes as I’d perhaps like to but there may still be one or two changes from the side that played at Oldham,” he said.

Dangermen?

The aforementioned Adebayo Akinfenwa, of course. The Cobblers’ poor from this season has only seen him net eleven times, but he is always dangerous.

Predictions?

The Cobblers at home this season have been hard to beat, losing just 3 league games out of 15 at home. In fact only Leicester, Oldham and Millwall have lost fewer games at home. If it wasn’t for their poor away form they would be a lot higher than their lowly 18th spot. However, it has to be remembered that, last week, we played a team with the fourth best away record in the Division and ended up winning quite comfortably in the end, despite some early problems. They aren’t playing well and I think we’ll come away from here with something.

Meet The Manager – Thursday Night

Exile @ 7:44 pm Monday 16 February 2009

This Thursday the Saddlers Club plays host to a ‘meet the manager’ evening with dynamic rot-fighting duo, Marty & Hutch, both in attendance.

Doors open 7.00pm, with the session due to start around 8.00pm. There’s a small door charge, but it should be worth it to ask the team such pertinent questions as ‘when’s Jimmy coming back?’, ‘what are you doing about dog poo on the training ground?’ and ‘when’s the new away stand being built?’.

They won’t have a clue about any of that, but should be able to tell us the extent of Weston’s injury, what plans are in store for further loan players (if any) and what their focus is for the rest of the season.

Call the club about advance tickets. 01922 633 357. OK, it’s run by the Supporters Club and isn’t a Fan Forum, but it’s the next best thing – chatting to the management face to face over a pint or two!

Walsall 2 Colchester 0

roger6 @ 9:42 pm Saturday 14 February 2009

The Hutchings and O’Connor era at Bescot continued to show progress with a convincing 2-0 win for Walsall against Colchester today. The game saw the return to Bescot of super Jimmy Walker in the visitors goal, but he was beaten twice by Michael Ricketts and the in-form Troy Deeney in the first half.

Bangor was there and offered his thoughts on the action:

Ricketts was different class today. absolutely superb. I take it the bone idle brigade didnt notice him filling in at centre half, right wing and in the middle when players where injured? Our best player. well done today MR.

My first look at Hutchings Walsall. Was very impressed. We look to have a killer touch in front of goal now and are much more creative from wide areas. I think the missing piece is more creativity from the middle of midfield to be honest.

The defence were awful until Weston went off. He had a mare – i don’t care where he wants to play – he is a right back. Palmer is diabolical.

Good win and there is a chink in the tunnel of light for the play offs. slim chance but not beyond us. We will have to go on a 10 game winning/ not losing streak.

Talk about it on the message board

Walsall v Colchester live blog

Exile @ 3:11 pm Saturday 14 February 2009

sorry – technical issues…. ALL SORTED NOW!

Walsall vs Colchester United Preview

Neil @ 5:48 pm Friday 13 February 2009

Colchester. Anyone know anything about Colchester? Well, it is, apparently, the oldest recorded town in Britain, as the Romans beat up the locals and the events were recorded by Pliny the Elder in 77AD. No, not very exciting is it?

I was intrigued to find out it was the birthplace of Constable, but it turns out it was the 19th century dauber, rather than the former Walsall striker. No, I just think we have to accept it’s not a very interesting place.

Chris Hutchings should have a virtually full strength squad for tomorrow’s game, with the return of Clayton Ince from International duty. The only absentees are likely to be the ever injured Roberts and Richard Taundry, although he is close to making a return.

There has been some talk coming out of the club about Ince not automatically getting his place back, but, if that were to happen, I think that would be an admission that the season is over and that we were planning for next year. (Although that might not be a bad attitude to be taking). The other difficult choice, with the scoring return of Michael Ricketts on Tuesday, which two out of Iberhe, Ricketts and Deeney will play. I think we are likely to see a line up of:

Ince, Palmer, Weston, Gerrard, Boertien, Nicholls, Hughes, Mattis, Zaaboub, Iberhe and Ricketts, (although a strong case could be made for Deeney’s inclusion in view of his current scoring streak).

As for the opposition, midfielder Kem Izzet is the sole change to the U’s squad for the game against Walsall this Saturday, following a one game suspension.

Lewis Gobern is fit despite a slight groin strain, Chris Coyne doesn’t travel following his midweek trip to Japan with the Australian national side, and Steven Gillespie misses out despite returning to training this week after his recent calf injury.

U’s team will, therefore come from: Walker, Cousins, White, Maybury, Tierney, Heath, Reid, Baldwin, Perkins, D. Hammond, Izzet, Wordsworth, Hackney, Vernon, Platt, Gobern, Yeates, Guy

The main point of interest for Saddlers will, of course, be the return of legend Jimmy Walker. He will get a wonderful reception, but let’s hope he has a stinker!

Predictions?

Colchester are just a place ahead of us, with five more points and a game in hand. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. They do have an away record that is bettered by only three other teams in this League – Leicester, MK Dons and Scunthorpe. It is only the poor start they had at home in their new stadium that is stopping them being right in the mix at the top of the table. We will need to be at our best to win this one.

Carlisle United vs Walsall Report

Neil @ 7:10 am Wednesday 11 February 2009

The general view from returning fans seems to be on of encouragement, as our resilience seems to be getting stronger, as well as the team spirit that was rapidly disappearing. As Bangsection puts it, we also have our own scheming little Frenchman playing well at the moment:

Just got back from the game. It’s nice to know that in these uncertain times some things remain reassuringly predictable. It will always be brass monkeys in Carlisle in February and – as someone mentioned earlier in the thread – Mick (aka ‘t-shirt man’, ‘freezing bloke’ etc) will always be dressed appropriately!

But what of the game? Carlisle and Walsall are two teams who have largely underachieved this season and this game illustrated why. If either team had had the nouse to impose themselves on the match then it was there for the taking. Instead, Carlisle had a go in the first half and then they very kindly let us have a bash in the second. In truth United should have been three up in the first half hour. From where I was sitting there was little Gilmartin could have done about Thirlwell’s opener but Taylor and especially Danny Graham missed absolute sitters shortly after they took the lead. All of our best work came from Zaaboub with the Frenchman whipping in a series of inviting crosses and working a good free kick that ended up with Nicholls having a goal ruled out for offside.

The second half started relatively quietly but after Hutchings replaced Deeney and Jabo with Ricketts and Williams (good, positive decision IMO – although our starting pair had played pretty well without really creating many chances) we started to cause Carlisle problems. Zaaboub was really annoying the home fans with a succession of, ahem, ‘continental-style collapses’ but then, incredibly, he did the same thing in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. I’ll be interested to see a replay but it seemed very soft to me. Well done Sofiene! He may be a conniving foreign schemer but he’s OUR conniving foreign schemer and he really seemed to enjoy the Zaa-booing from the away support when he came to take a corner in front of us late on.

You might have expected us to use some of the time wasting tactics that our opponents had been employing as the game entered the last five minutes but to our credit we really went for it and looked the more likely to snatch something. Nevertheless a draw was a fair result.

Individual players: Gilmartin made a couple of good saves but a few dodgy kicks were nearly punished. Back four were generally solid – I certainly didn’t think Gerrard stood out as having a poor game. Hughes did what he is good at – breaking up play and making good use of the ball, Bradley was disappointing – too many misplaced passes, Zaaboub was sporadic but effective, Nicholls better in the second half than the first and our strikers (all four of them!) played well – Williams certainly looks the part.

All in all, encouraging stuff from a team that seems to have rediscovered a good deal of its self-belief.

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