Archive for August, 2010

Walsall v Chesterfield – Tinpot Trophy Tuesday!

Exile @ 11:25 pm Monday 30 August 2010

Chesterfield visit for the tinpot game on tuesday night, bringing with them old friend Dwayne Mattis. It’s one of those games where it’s anybody’s guess as to the team and the result, but regardless, if you get yourself down to the Banks’s's it’ll only cost you a tenner to support the lads / wear a yellow T-Shirt / stay in the bar / snooze in the library stand.

While Chesterfield have the slight edge on our league meetings (27 wins to our 26), they’ve never beaten us in a cup match. let’s not change that statistic, eh? Turn up to support the team and fly the flag for Walsall.

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Brighton 2-1 Walsall

Exile @ 10:13 pm Saturday 28 August 2010

What was a promising start ended up being a false dawn, as Alex Nicholls was the sacrificial lamb at Brighton this time round, and Walsall ended up going down 2-1. Macken, off the bench, for our late consolation prize.

Brighton vs Walsall – Match Preview

Exile @ 10:41 pm Friday 27 August 2010

Neil’s off on his hols, so you have to suffer an Exile preview from the wrong side of the planet, sorry.

REMINDER – THIS IS AN ALL TICKET GAME.

On to the team. Looks like the injured list is as at the beginning of the week with nobody recovered enough to feature, so we won’t be seeing Jones Byfield and Macken featuring up front. Behind them it’s all situation normal so expect the same team featured as last week. I’d be tempted to use Grigg from the 60 minute mark as an alternative outlet if thing’s look tight.

Brighton haven’t got a first choice keeper as Brezovan is still sidelined, Navarro is crocked, Sparrow and Greer are suspended (already?) so already they’re in the wars and unsettled.

When asked about Walsall, manager Gus Poyet boasted:

We know what they’re going to do, how they’re going to play. We know everything about them

Really, Gus?

Predictions? Withdean’s a dump, it’s next to impossible to see the game, it’s all ticket, the park and ride is a rip-off but still Saddlers enjoy this awayday. We’ve been on the end of some tonkings over the years but have dished out some of our own. With the sides not recording a 0-0 draw since 1948 I’ll go for that, although I’d fancy a smash and grab at the death for a 1-0 away victory.

Walsall vs Plymouth Argyle – First Reactions

Neil @ 5:47 pm Saturday 21 August 2010

The Saddlers produced a display at the Banks’s this afternoon, every bit as good as the one against the Franchise was abject as they came from behind to deservedly beat Plymouth 2 -1. The outstanding contributions were from the two centre backs, Smith and Lancashire, the Man of the Match and scorer of the second goal, Reuben Reid, and an unrecognisably excellent Matt Richards. Jones and Gray also looked very dangerous, Jones having his full back on toast until going off with what looked like a serious knee injury just before half time.

The most pleasing feature of the game for me was the fact that we were prepared to pass the ball properly and to feet, to the extent that we looked really, really neat at times. Two good goals as well, the first a beautifully placed header back across the keeper ito the top far corner by Marshall, on for Jones, froma pin point cross from Gray, the second the result of yet another powerful run and shot from the impressive Reid.

Cannock’s reaction was very similar to mine:

“That was fantastic. It’s what i want from a Saturday afternoon. Excitement, passion and good attacking football. What a brilliant afternoon. Any more games like this with the same effort and commitment i will be looking to get another season ticket. I’ve not been so enthralled since the Graydon years. Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant.

Reid was awesome and what we’ve been missing since Rambo, Leitao. As for Richards, i will eat my words as he had a blinder today. Six times i screamed “well done Richards” and that is highly unusual for me.

Really enjoyed it, got the buzz back. Fantastic.

Roll on the next one.

Well done one and all”

Walsall vs Plymouth Argyle Preview

Neil @ 8:26 am Friday 20 August 2010

Plymouth – now there’s a team that’s had a funny start. Under new Manager and “old stager” Peter Reid, they opened the season with a 1 – 0 win at Southampton (very much not to be sneezed at), but then promptly lost at home to Notts County in the League Cup and drew at home to Carlisle in their second League game. A mixed start indeed.

What has to be said, however, is that they should have the resources to get out of this Division, as long as their gates hold up – the Carlisle gate being 7,700 with, I’d have thought, not many away fans making the 780 mile round trip! Ah well, that’s football for you.

Chris Hutchings, of course, will have relative luxury to choose from this weekend – except in midfield, perhaps – with the arrival of Jon Macken and Reuben Reid. Whether either or both will start depends largely on Byfield’s fitness, as he is having problems with his achilles. If Macken does start, of course, we will have to make allowances for the fact he hasn’t had a pre-season, although that won’t stop some people writing him off if he doesn’t get a hat trick!

The intriguing thing about Reid’s signing is what it bodes formation wise. He is very suited to playing in a 4 3 3, so that may become more likely, but, whether it’s a 4 4 2 or a 4 4 3, either Gray or Jones will miss out if Reid plays (more than likely to happen with a loan signing) and that’s not likely to go down well (unless, of course, he intends to play one of them in the “3”). A lot of choices for the man to make, then.

As for Plymouth, they’ve had massive disruption with their relegation. Out have gone Jamie Mackie (QPR, undisclosed), Lloyd Saxton (Bradford, free), David McNamee (released), Yoann Folly (Aberdeen, free), Simon Walton (Sheffield United, loan), Ashley Barnes (Brighton, undisclosed), Alan Gow (released), Gary Sawyer (Bristol Rovers, free) and George Donnelly (Stockport, loan). In have come Rory Patterson (Glentoran, signed), Bondz N’Gala (West Ham, free), and Anton Peterlin (unattached, free). They are still an example of how the other half live, though, as their squad numbers 29!

Men to watch.

Midfielder Carl Fletcher, once of West Ham, is a big influence on the team, but they do also have the blistering pace of the lesser of the two brothers, Bradley Wright Phillips.

Saddlers will be waiting to see the son of former favourite, Kevin Summerfield, Luke, scorer of the winner at St Mary’s.

Predictions?

If you are going to play relegated teams, the time to do so is early on, while they are still adjusting to life in a lower Division. Plymouth’s opening day win at Southampton shows that they are dangerous, though. Following the confidence boost of our win at Brentford last week, I’d still hope for a home win here!

Two Signings In One Day!

Neil @ 5:35 pm Thursday 19 August 2010

A double signing day for the Saddlers today, as Jon Macken and Reuben Reid were bought in to strengthen the squad.

Macken’s will be a familiar name to many, having started as a trainee at Old Trafford. In 1997, he went from there to Preston, where he scored 74 goals in 188 starts and 41 sub appearances. That bought him to the attention of Manchester City, who paid £5 million for his services.

There he scored just 12 goals in 31 starts and another 28 sub appearances, before moving on to Palace, Ipswich, Derby and, finally, Barnsley.

He’s 5 foot 11 and is a full Irish International, with just 1 cap.

Reuben Reid was a trainee at Plymouth and did the rounds on loan at various lower league clubs learning his trade. He has spells at Kidderminster, Rochdale, Torquay and Wycombe before moving to Brentford and Rotherham. His spell at Rotherham was the most successful, as he scored 19 goals in 51 games, leading to the Albion signing him in 2009.

He’s 6 foot, quick and powerful, with the ability to play on the flanks or up front. He’s on loan for five months, until January. If he makes an appearance on Saturday, he will, of course, be making his debut against his first club

Brentford 1-2 Walsall: Match Reaction

Exile @ 10:11 pm Saturday 14 August 2010

A surprising (to this Saddler at least) away victory at Brentford will restore some fans faith in this season’s team after the unfancied Nicholls and Gray scored the goals.

Zece was at the match:

Just got back, cracking day, cracking result and cracking atmosphere considering we only took less than 130!!!

That report is about right for the first 10 minutes as we couldn’t even think if their keeper even touched the ball, then Nicholls pulls off a lovely flick over the keeper from an angle to open the scoring!

Was end to end after that for a while and we we’re playing pretty well until they scored theirs which was an odd goal. Ball came in and Lescott and Alexander headered it and Brain pulled off a tv save but he was trying to catch it with both hands and it was like he just didn’t put the effort in to actually keep it and it kind of pulled him into the goal!!! Oddly described but there you go!

2nd half was a lot better and the goal came from Byfield turning their defence inside out and crossed it to a near enough unmarked grey just by the post who smacked it into the tightest of places.

After that it was all them, attack after attack and they had a free kick a few minutes before the end… and Brain pulled off the save of the season to which he probably had no idea himself how he saved it (off his foot as he was going the other way!) The resulting corner they hit the post… to which it was pretty much all over then!

So overall, a lot lot better performance wise, squeeky bum time for the last 15 but very happy! Uts!

Well done the lads. Brentford were less than charitable on their own website:sour grapes all round.

Good result, but are we now playoff contenders?

Brentford vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:58 pm Friday 13 August 2010

In this week’s column in the Advertiser, I said that this season is in danger of going downhill rapidly. Our next four fixtures are a tough prospect with improving Brentford and Brighton away and promotion candidates Plymouth and Colchester at home. The first of those games comes tomorrow, with a far from easy trip to the Smoke and, it would seem, still no new faces on board. The team has to improve massively if this start isn’t going to turn into a disaster.

Ryan McGivern will return to the line up, having been missing on Tuesday on International duty. That means we have a full strength line up to choose from.

That, in turn, leads to the obvious question of whether Hutchings will stick to the same team, or make some changes (other than the obvious one of Lescott back to right back and McGivern in, with Westlake dropping to the bench).

I might be starting to sound like a stuck record, but I would go for strengthening the midfield, which has looked very weak so far, even if it means playing with one striker.

Brentford went down in their opening day fixture too, with a defeat at Carlisle, but went some way towards atoning for that when they beat Cheltenham at home in the League Cup on Tuesday (what does the second round look like, again?).
They have seen lots of changes in the close season and have bought in Nicky Forster (Brighton, free), Toumani Diagouraga (Peterborough, undisclosed), Craig Woodman (Wycombe, undisclosed), Richard Lee (Watford, free), David McCracken (MK Dons, signed), Simon Royce (Gillingham, free), Kirk Hudson (Aldershot), Mark Spillane (Norwich, undisclosed)
Out have gone Nikki Bull, Danny Foster, Ben Strevens, Alan Bennett (all Wycombe, free), Ryan Dickson (Southampton, free), Cleveland Taylor (St Johnstone, free)
Since then, they have also acquired two more strikers, in the shape of Robbie Simpson, on loan from Huddersfield and a scorer already, and Gary Alexander from Millwall, scorer of two against us at the New Den the season before last. That gives them to choose from, Carl Cort, Nicky Forster, Simpson and Alexander. Makes us look a little weak up front!

Fortunately, they may be without the dangerous winger, Myles Weston, who will need a late fitness test.

Predictions?

I haven’t got a clue. Play like we did last Saturday and we’ll get tonked, that’s all I know.

Walsall 0-1 Tranmere Rovers: Cup Shambles

Exile @ 9:46 pm Tuesday 10 August 2010

A complete lack of plan saw Walsall capitulate to a Tranmere side bereft of confidence and ability on a dismal Tuesday night at the Banks’s. Goodison did the damage on 40 minutes from a set piece. More to come.

Tranmere Rovers Preview

Neil @ 9:06 am Tuesday 10 August 2010

It was a terrible turn out from the fans on Saturday and an equally terrible performance out on the pitch, so Walsall will be desperate to put that right at home in the League Cup tonight against Tranmere. The big question is, are we capable of producing it?

Hutchings has a fully fit squad to choose from, by all accounts (although that seems a little strange, as I was not the only one who thought that Lancashire had come off with an injury on Saturday), so he has two choices, either pick the same team and give them another chance, or make wholesale changes. I think he’ll go for the first – it’s his style. Me? I’d go 4 3 3:

Brain, Lescott,, Smith, MacDonald, McGivern, Taundry, Richards, Marshall, Jones, Byfield, Gray.

If he does want to keep 4 4 2, I think he ought to give Marshall and Grigg a go anyway.

Tranmere are somewhat in disarray, it has to be said. Out at the end of last season went Bas Savage, Chris Shuker, Gareth Edds, Charlie Barnett, Josh Macauley, Kithson Bain (all released), Craig Curran (Carlisle, free) and in have come Joss Labadie (West Brom, free), Timothy Cathalina (FC Emmen, free), Gunnar Nielsen (Manchester City, loan until January), the incredibly, wonderfully named Enoch Showumni (Falkirk, free) and Nick Wood (Sheffield Wednesday, free).

To make things worse, the team, which only avoided relegation on the last day of last season have now been rocked by a transfer request from their star striker, Ian Thomas-Moore, who has, it seems, got himself another club lined up.

All things considered, this should be a relatively easy start for the Saddlers, especially as Tranmere lost at home to Oldham on Saturday, but we were so bad against the Franchise, I really wouldn’t want to pick a winner out of this one.

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