Archive for March, 2010

Exeter City vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 12:59 pm Friday 26 March 2010

I had to look up Chris Hutchings’ record earlier this week for a post. They are worth repeating now:

Hutchings: Played 63, Won 21, Lost 24, Drawn 18 – 1.28 points per game

That compares with the hapless Mullen, sacked, remember for results, especially at home, leading to “falling gates” (just like now) – of:

Mullen: Played 29, Won 10, Lost 14, Drawn 5 – 1.21 points per game

Hutchings’s win rate is 33%, Mullen’s 34%.

(By way of comparison, by the way, Money averaged 1.6 points per game and had a win ratio of 42%).

In addition, since the 1st December, as Exile pointed out earlier this week, we’ve played 18 games, won only 4, losing 9 times and gaining a mere 17 points, including an 8 game streak without a win. Luckily we made those points in the first half of the season, as that’s relegation form whatever way you look at it. On this basis we’ll be lucky to see 55 points by the end of the season, and we’re doubly lucky that there’s some runaway good teams in the top 6 and plenty of dross surrounding us.

Over those 18 games, we are averaging just 0.94 points per game, or a seasonal aggregate, over 46 games, of 43 points. That’s nailed on relegation form, so we are, quite frankly, getting worse.

At least the injury news is a little better. Mattis and Richards are set hand the beleaguered Saddlers a boost and win their fitness battles ahead of the trip to Exeter on Saturday.
Both limped out of Tuesday’s disgusting defeat at relegation threatened Southend and were rated doubtful, but boss Chris Hutchings has confirmed they are due to rejoin training.
The manager said on Thursday: “Matt will train tomorrow and hopefully Dwayne will too, it’s just a matter of time to let the injuries settle down and hopefully they will be available for Saturday. Dwayne’s was a flare up of his Achilles and they are a nightmare as I have had them myself and Matty just got his knock on the ankle. Hopefully we can get Dwayne through because we haven’t got a midweek game the following week.”
The Saddlers will, of course, be without two first choice centre backs, as Hughes and McDonald are both suspended. Quite how that leaves the defence remains to be seen. Hutchings has seemed to be reluctant to bring Smith in from the cold during his contract dispute, so we might even see a situation, given Richards’s injury problems, of two full backs at centre back (Weston and Vincent) and two kids at fullback (Westlake and Sansara), or even a midfielder at right back (Taundry).
As for the opposition, they may have a new boy in the ranks, in the shape of 6ft 2in Rotherham striker Ryan Taylor on a month-long loan transfer, with a view to extending the deal.

Taylor is likely to feature for the Grecians tomorrow, giving manager Paul Tisdale plenty of options up front, with Marcus Stewart, Adam Stansfield, Barry Corr, Richard Logan, James Norwood and Stuart Fleetwood already on the books. Stansfield is a doubt for tomorrow, though, as he is suffering from a stomach bug.
Quite frankly, after the pathetic display on Tuesday night against a team in the bottom four, I am firmly of the belief that it’s impossible to forecast anything we are going to do this season. It ought to be a draw, but who knows?


A season of two halves

Exile @ 2:14 am Wednesday 24 March 2010

Another season is fast disappearing up it’s own backside and we’re well placed for midtable mediocrity, based on average performances. On the face of that’s much better than a relegation challenge, but after a couple of years of standard preseason sound bites from Roy Whalley about promotion, that’s cold comfort indeed.

The problem with the first paragraph is ‘average performances’. On results so far we’re on 47 points, 10 off relegation and cruising into the home stretch. Trouble is, if we look at how that season has progressed we see two very distinct halves.

In the first 19 games we gained 30 points, helped along by the November purple patch that gave us some hope for the rest of the season. We defeated Yeovil away to round off that half season on the 1st of December.

Since then we’ve played 18 games, won only 4, been dumped 9 times and gained only 17 points, including an 8 game streak without a win. Luckily we made those points in the first half of the season, as that’s relegation form whatever way you look at it. On this basis we’ll be lucky to see 55 points by the end of the season, and we’re doubly lucky that there’s some runaway good teams in the top 6 and plenty of dross surrounding us.

Chris Hutchings was appointed in January 2009 and has now had 15 months in the role as manager, after serving as Paul Jewell’s understudy (and sweeping up after him) for much of his previous career. Never stellar in previous caretaker roles, his record at Walsall has now been so patchy it can best be desribed as flattering to deceive. We’re so inconsistent there’s no tipping point, no crisis, no defining moment that shouts out loud “You don’t know what you’re doing”, but an accumulation of deflating performances, non-existent or ineffectual tactics, inexplicable substitutions, team sheets with good names missing or players out of position, and a succession of lacklustre games that leave every fan flat can say the same thing much more quietly.

Perhaps there’s problems further up the chain? We are all well aware of Mr. Bonser’s desire to leave contract negotiations to the last possible moment, the club’s financial shortcomings and the fact that other potential managerial candidates (and previous managers) have decided that Walsall was not for them based on personal financials and lack of future commitments. There’s a smell of short-termism surrounding Walsall FC, and that’s not good for a sports club that’s survived 123 years.

We need some progress. We need some leadership. Heck – we need some consistent football! Where’s that going to come from? Your guess is as good as mine. Consistently finishing in League One midtable is not my definition of a club going anywhere, but where is there to go when we can’t pay for a better squad and refuse to pay for a better manager?

Sorry there’s no answers in this monologue.

Result: Southend 3-0 Walsall

Exile @ 9:59 pm Tuesday 23 March 2010

“We made them look like 1970s Brazil” said a Saddlers fan on Facebook. An early goal, a sending off, a goal just after half-time and a coup de grace near the end saw Southend chalk up their first win of 2010 at Walsall’s expense. A sorry result.

Since December 1 2009, Walsall have played 18, won 4, drawn 5 and lost 9 games. We’ve scored only 16 goals in those 18 games and chalked up a grand total of 0.94 points per game – relegation form in anyone’s eyes.

More to follow.

Southend United vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 5:56 pm Monday 22 March 2010

Another three points will put us on the “magic” figure of 50, and an opportunity, with the season definitely over, to try and start some long term planning for next season (including some contact negotiations).

Saturday’s excellent fighting win against the odds, following Hughes’s sending off, proved that there is spirit within the team. I, personally, don’t think that that side of Hutchings’s management has ever really been in question. My problem with him has always been his apparent lack of tactical awareness and, accordingly, his inability to change a game by either altering the line up, or the astute use of substitutions. In other words, his actions tend to show that he has spent most of his time as a number two, rather than having to make those decisions himself.

Unless there is a change at the very top, I can’t see anything altering for next season, either in terms of him departing, or bringing him in a tactician, so let’s hope that that side of his game is going to improve.

That need to get over the finishing line and start looking ahead means that we could do with getting the points as early as possible and we will have a good chance tomorrow at Southend. This is a team in the bottom four and four points shy of safety.

Rhys Weston has returned to the fold following his injury, so that makes up, at least in part, for Hughes’ enforced absence for the next three games. He isn’t fully match fit, so will probably be on the bench. Daryl Westlake should have recovered from the illness which kept him out on Saturday and may be at full back, with Taundry reverting to midfield.

Hutchings will, it has to be said, find it difficult to change much, other than (probably) Smith replacing Hughes.

As for the opposition, Southend will be without skipper Adam Barrett. The central defender was sent off in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Carlisle for two bookable offences and will serve a one-match ban.
Steve Tilson is expected to start with Osei Sankofa in the absence of Barrett, who scored the Shrimpers’ equaliser as they fought back from 2-0 down against the Cumbrians.
Jean-Francois Christophe is also unavailable once again as he serves the final game of a four-match ban.
Johnny Herd was preferred to Scott Malone at left-back against Greg Abbott’s side and is expected to get the nod once again, while Francis Laurent is a doubt with the pelvic injury which ruled him out at the weekend.
Young goalkeeper Daniel Bentley will keep his place on the bench if Kelvin Jack (hamstring) is not fit to return, as the Shrimpers look to end a dismal run of 12 games without a win.

That last statement is the key – “a dismal run of 12 games without a win”. If not for that, you’d think this would be close, as Southend’s home record is the same as our own was before Saturday, won 5, drawn 8, lost 5. They are in a mess, however, and we’ll never get many better chances to get an away win.

Walsall vs Colchester United Preview

Neil @ 12:57 pm Friday 19 March 2010

It’s been yet another very strange week in the life of Walsall Football Club. It wasn’t as if it wasn’t bad enough having to read the comments on 606 from Orient fans that the only reason they won was that were positively the worst team they have seen down there this season, we then got Troy Deeney’s comments running down other players for not trying. Quite what’s going on is beyond me. There have been lots of positive comments about Deeney from fans, but I just think it is distracting from the real problems at the club – the lack of investment and, quite frankly, the Manager. Such is the state of mind of fans at the moment, when it was announced that Hutchings wasn’t going to discipline Deeney, my first thought was that he’d been encouraged to say it for exactly that reason!

All that makes another home game against one of the play off contenders even more important, as Colchester United come to town.

Rhys Weston is likely to be the only absentee, as Richards is back from suspension and Parkin is fit again. Hopefully, Mattis should be able to play as well. Quite where that leaves Hutchings’s team selection is quite another matter, but I will be hoping to see a centre half at centre half and a left back at left back, unlike the farcical selection last week. I would be expecting to see something like:

Gilmartin, Westlake, Hughes or Smith, MacDonald, Vincent, Jones, Taundry, Mattis, Gray or Richards, Deeney, Nicholls.

Personally, I’d play Richards ahead of Gray, as his contributions so far have been negligible, although it has to be said that the left wing berth has been a huge problem all season. It might be the time to try a 4 3 1 2, (or, God forbid, a 4 1 3 2, with Taundry holding, and Jones down the middle, supported by Mattis and a n other!) but I don’t think the Manager is that adventurous to be honest.

As for the opposition, they may well welcome back from injury the somewhat wonderfully named John-Joe O’Toole, who was an unused substitute in the defeat by Carlisle.

Defender Paul Reid is unlikely to feature after having an injection in his back last week.

As a team, Colchester seem to specialise in wonderful names, as they also have Kayode Odejayi up front, who was, of course, scoring the winner against Chelsea for Barnsley not to long ago.

We will also be welcoming back to Bescot ex Saddler, Clive Platt.


This might well depend totally on what the players’ morale is like after Deeney’s outburst earlier in the week. The reason I say that, is that, otherwise, it looks too close to call. Our home record is won 5, drawn 8, lost 5 and Colchester’s away record is won 5, drawn 7, lost 6. In other words, we have gained just one more point at home than they have away!

In the meantime, for anyone contemplating a different kind of entertainment on Saturday, there’s a pub guide to Uttoxeter, where the Midland Grand National will be taking plce:-

Deeney – “It’s pathetic!”

Exile @ 7:05 pm Monday 15 March 2010

Troy Deeney came out and said what many fans have felt for a while now – some players don’t care about the shirt and put in the minimum of effort to grab a pay cheque as they cruise along in their comfort zone.

He added: “as always, we play crap one week and then do well the next week. The cracks get papered over and nobody says anything.” Finally, though, Deeeney has had the guts to say it on behalf of everyone. He readily admits he has a selfish motive for this – wanting to do bigger and better things for himself, but as he points out, the lack of effort and support from some on the team means he doesn’t look that good himself, and is more likely to end up on the football scrapheap than in a Championship squad on current showings.

While we’ll moan with the best of them, Walsall fans don’t seriously expect their team to be world beaters – it rarely happens to us and we know it. On the other hand, we do like to be entertained, and we do expect that the players will want to try while they’re on the pitch. If that doesn’t happen, the outcomes are obvious, and words like Troy Deeney’s, while sounding harsh, are actually a welcome break from the usual claptrap club statements.

Well done Troy for having the guts to speak your mind. Hopefully this won’t mean you’re benched and scapegoated for other peoples’ problems.

Leyton Orient vs Walsall – Report on Not Much At All

Neil @ 10:59 am Sunday 14 March 2010

All summed up by Wyrley Saddler:

Disgraceful performance. To call ourselves a professional football team is a joke. I can’t remember Orient’s keep actually having to make a save. The few shots that we did have went wide and were ironically cheered by the 178 Saddlers fans.I realy can’t think of one player that played well for us. Hutchings is an idiot. Why play Sansara with Hughes & Smith on the bench? Why wait until we’re 2-0 down to make a sub? Why take off the only player who looked like they had the possibility to do something for a league 2 reserve player?

I think it’s time for Hutch to go. He’s had his chance, all we are going to do now is plummet like a stone towards the bottom if the performances of late carry on

And, in the same vein, Zece_wfc:

Been today and I really really wouldn’t be surprised if we are dragged into the relegation scrap after that rubbish.

It got so bad, we were cheering when we strung more than 3 passes together…. and that only lasted a few times.
I don’t know where the 2 shots on target came from because we didn’t have any!!!!
I can’t be bothered going through each player because they all should be sacked, with the exception of Jones! Gray can be first out the door, he was shocking.

There was no passion, no determination, no spirit, no fight….

Worst players on the pitch were Sansara and grey by a country mile.

Rubbish, rubbish rubbish. Bye bye Hutchings

Leyton Orient vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 12:58 pm Friday 12 March 2010

It seems to be a strange thing to say, but somewhat symptomatic of what’s been a very strange season, that we have the relief of an away trip tomorrow. It’s just five wins at home, as against 6 away. Only Brighton in our Division have managed the trick of winning away more often than at home this season and you have to say that it is more than just co-incidence and there has to be a logical reason for it. This probably isn’t the time to go into the lack of creativity in the side which stops us from breaking down sides at the Bescot, compared to the relative pace we have up front and on the flanks, which enables us to hit teams on the break away from home, but I do think that’s a large part of the answer.

Whatever the reason, the season is as good as over, with us now standing 16 points behind the play offs and 12 points clear of the relegation zone, so this ought to be the time to start looking towards next season and experimenting a little. To counterbalance that, however, with the Early Bird season ticket offers now out, we could also do with going on a decent run in an attempt to coax some supporters back. A difficult balancing act for Chris Hutchings, then.

One decision that ought to be made, however, is to give Gilmartin another chance after last week’s howler. He is the future, for the time being at least, and should keep his place ahead of Ince, who will be likely to leave at the end of the season.

Westlake is another who should get a runout tomorrow, as Weston has a calf strain and will miss two weeks. That leaves the rest of the positions across the back between Smith (rumoured to be a target for Norwich City), MacDonald, Hughes, Vincent and Richards.

In the middle of the park, Jones will be on one flanks and Gray on the other, with two out of the returning Mattis, Taundry, O’Keefe and Bradley in the middle. If we are going to experiment, I’d go for thee in the middle (Mattis, Taundry and Bradley or O’Keefe or Richards), with Jones playing off the front two, in a 4 3 1 2, but I don’t think Hutchings will go down that route.

Up front, Deeney and Nicholls are likely to keep the starting berths, with Byfield and the now fit again Parkin in reserve.

As for Orient, they’ll be sweating on Ben Chorley’s fitness ahead of the game. The centre-half missed Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Oldham with a hamstring injury and needs a late fitness test.

Luke Ashworth deputised for Chorley at Boundary Park and will be on stand-by again.

Veteran striker Scott McGleish was rested in midweek and should be back in the starting line-up alongside Jonathan Tehoue, who this week signed a long-term deal with the club.

Left-back Charlie Daniels came through the full 90 minutes unscathed against the Latics after a groin injury and midfielder Sean Thornton is pushing for a start after dropping to the bench.


Orient go into this game in 16th place, just 6 points above the drop zone. They have been suffering, according to their camp, from a shortage of goals, which is effecting their overall position. That puts our record into perspective, as they’ve scored just one less than we have! At home, they’ve won six and drawn six, so they’ve won the same number at home as we have away. I’d expect a point at least from this, but there has to be a very good chance of sneaking all three.

On The Buses – matchday special launched!

Exile @ 7:43 pm Wednesday 10 March 2010

The club’s taken on board a supporter suggestion and negotiated with Centro and Midland to launch a new matchday special bus service to get people to and from the stadium!

Buses WFC1, WFC2 and WFC3 will run each matchday between now and the end of the season, so if you’ve had trouble getting to the match, here’s a great solution.

WFC1 runs from Walsall Wood, via Shire Oak, Brownhills, Pelsall and Rushall.

WFC2 runs from Lower Farm via Bloxwich (Park Road), Blakenhall and Coalpool.

WFC runs from Bloxwich (Turnberry Road) via Mossley and Beechdale.

Fares are 1.70 one way or three quid return. The service will operate for the Colchester, Wycombe, Tranmere, Hartlepool and MK Dongs games, and if successful will continue next season. More info on the official site here and a timetable is here (with a great photo of Swifty!)

Saddlers 2 Lions 2

roger6 @ 3:55 pm Sunday 07 March 2010

It finished 2-2 at Bescot yesterday after the Saddlers led 2-0 but in-form Millwall hit back to grab an equaliser in injury time. Louse was at the game and offered these thoughts via the message board;

I had a strange unfamilar feeling as I left the game today , I think it was called ‘enjoyment’. Yes, I actually enjoyed the game.
For once we were entertained and the result literally to the end was uncertain.
First half I thought we were superb.Nicholls had plenty of time to take his goal but Ive seen players panic and miss in that situation – he had a cool head and cleanly put it away.Taundrys goal was a cracker and that should have been game over .
However a defensive howler a few mins later and Millwall were back in it -and after that we were always on the defensive.
My only two negative remarks are Richards, still dont think hes any good and a sending off really made it backs against the walls for the last 20 mins.Gray – I dont rate him at all – watched him closely and he is no use at all.
Positives – Well the Sun shone for a little while , lots of fit men in Army Uniform around for the Help the Heroes fund :wink: – oh you mean on the pitch…I thought Gilmartin second half did come out a lot and look more confident in his handling etc, Taundry and Nicholls both had good games and in the first half we showed we can play attractive passing Football.
Although leading all game to concede an equalizer at the death feels ike a defeat, however I think Millwall played well enough to deserve a point so a fair result.

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