Archive for March, 2011

Two year sentence for Smith

Exile @ 8:26 pm Thursday 31 March 2011

From the blogosphere, it looks like some information has been leaked, then covered up, surrounding the future of Dean Smith, currently our manager to the end of the season.

Looks like BRMB’s ‘thegoalzone’ jumped the gun, tweeting about a two year contract for Deano, which was picked up very quickly and retweeted by Darren Byfield. ‘thegoalzone’ have now taken down their original message, but too late.

Now Late Kick Off are saying that a Midland club have a press conference tomorrow.

If this news has a kernel of truth, it would be rude to offer it without a poll:


Two years for Smith is...
  • a good thing (77%, 226 Votes)
  • too early to tell (20%, 60 Votes)
  • a bad thing (3%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 295

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Franchise 1 Walsall 1

roger6 @ 2:51 pm Monday 28 March 2011

A few days to reflect on Friday evening’s point in Milton Keynes – lots of reaction on the message board, here are the thoughts of JackoSaddler:

Fantastic support from Walsall today, created a cracking atmosphere compared to the dire Mk fans who were awful! We played alright, lucky not to lose in the end, but then again we could have sneaked a win if we took our chances. They hit the crossbar from 2 yards out which looked like an open goal!

I am not going to rate every player, but I believed tonight nearly all players gave 100% and it is clear to see that they do want to stay up, and that they are fighting for it. Credit to Deano for that.

Oh, and just to mention for the “fan” behind me. Shouting abuse at both Richards and Byfield will not make them play better. We need to support the lads, and if you are only their to slag them off every time they touch the ball don’t bother coming.

I said I would take a point, got my prediction of 1-1 correct. Now for a 2 week break for Deano to get the boys rested and ready for Plymouth.

Franchise FC vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 9:09 am Friday 25 March 2011

We could have picked an easier game to try and get some more points from than the Franchise away, I suppose. The fake football team are, unfortunately, on a good run of form at the moment, which has seen them rise to just three points behind second place Huddersfield, so they will be flat out for a win. With the real Dons only second in the Conference table, judgement day may be further off than we thought.

Team selection will be very much on Dean Smith’s mind. Aaron Lescott is still unavailable through injury, so his decisions at the back will revolve around whether Smith or Lancashire lines up alongside Butler.

However, it’s the midfield and up front that the real conundrums arise. Jon Macken will have a fitness test to see if he is over the strain that saw him limp off against Hartlepool. If he doesn’t make it, then it’s a choice between 451/433 and 442/4411.

Personnel wise, of course, he will have lots of options. Start Ledesma, or keep him as the impact player? Do Laird and Cook start? (I suspect that Ledesma or Cook will be on the right wing). Still, after having an XI that picked itself under Hutchings (and was still bad), it’s nice to have those sorts of problems!

As for the other lot, midfielder Adam Clayton will be in the squad.

The Leeds midfielder signed on loan until the end of the season on Thursday and is set to be on the bench as manager Karl Robinson names an unchanged side from the XI which beat Peterborough on Monday night.

Goalkeeper David Martin returned from an ankle injury against Posh and will start while on-loan Fulham midfielder Keanu Marsh-Brown (groin) is fit again.

The club is still seeking clearance from FIFA for new signing Shaun Williams to feature while utility man Jude Stirling has left to join former Dons boss Martin Allen on loan at Barnet.

Predictions?

At home, they have won 12, drawn 4 and lost 3, scoring 28 and conceding 16. That’s the third best record in the Division, after Brighton and Peterborough It’s their away record (they’ve lost as many times away as we have) that has let them down. On the other hand, when they have struggled at home, it has tended to be against team from the lower half (lost to Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth and Orient, who were lower half at the time). Anything would be welcome, though.

Sunderland Man Signs

Neil @ 5:25 pm Thursday 24 March 2011

Dean Smith obviously has decided to go for broke, as he’s signed yet another attacking midfielder on loan, 21 year old Sunderland starlet Jordan Cook.

Attacking midfielder Jordan Cook saw his 2009-10 season ruined by injury.
He was sidelined for seven months after sustaining cruciate ligament damage in a reserve game against Burnley in September 2009.

Cook was on loan at Darlington at the time, for whom he made five appearances without scoring.

He returned to training at the back end of the 2009-10 campaign.

Cook made a good start to the current season and was called into the senior squad in December 2010, making his first-team debut as a substitute at Manchester United on Boxing Day.

He has, this season, made 11 appearances for Sunderland Reserves, scoring three times.

Another Loan Signing!

Neil @ 3:05 pm Wednesday 23 March 2011

Dean Smith strengthened his squad further today with the acquisition of former Manchester City midfielder, Millwall’s Marc Laird.

Millwall signed the young Scottish midfielder from Manchester City on a two-and-a-half year deal in January 2008. Described as an exciting prospect, he had a spell on loan at Northampton during the 2006/7 campaign and then a brief spell at Port Vale, with the Valiants pipped at the post for his signature by Millwall.

Laird made his debut for The Lions at Vale Park, just three days after finalising his move south.

He quickly reached 50 appearances, thanks to featuring heavily all across the midfield during 2008/9, being described as an energetic box-to-box player who contributed some crucial goals in that season.

Marc made a valuable contribution to Millwall’s promotion-winning 2009/10 campaign, but picked up an injury and then when loan signing Liam Trotter arrived from Ipswich Town, found first team opportunities in the latter part of the season limited.

Laird signed a new one year contract last summer and spent January this year on loan at Brentford.

Supporters Trust Press Release

Neil @ 6:00 pm Monday 21 March 2011

The Trust have made the following press release regarding the sale of the freehold by the Pension Fund:

The Walsall Supporters’ Trust were dismayed last week by the decision to put the freehold of Bescot Stadium up for general sale.

We have been in discussions with experts in the field of pensions, who have informed us that there are legal and financially viable ways for the freehold to be sold to the club, or even vested in an “arm’s length” third party, if it were felt to be desirable, with only minor detriment, if any, to the beneficiaries of the Self Invested Personal Pensions involved. Our advisors have been in touch with the beneficiaries of the pension fund pointing out these options to them.

We would, therefore, call on those beneficiaries of the pension fund to instruct Suffolk Life and the company handling the sale to take further advice on this and actively seek alternatives to the general sale,in order to assuage the fears that all Walsall fans have contemplating an uncertain future.

We feel that the best place for the freehold of the stadium is under the control of the football club, or in the hands of a third party, held in trust so there is no possibility of the land being used for any other purpose on the expiry of the current lease term, in the same way as the pitch has been at Chelsea football club, negating the possibility of redevelopment without the consent of fans.

Five star Saddlers second half stunner

roger6 @ 2:28 pm Monday 21 March 2011

When was the last time Walsall, trailing 2-0 with half an hour or so to go, turned the game round with 5 second half stunners? The answer my friends is two days ago at Bescot, when the Saddlers produced a masterclass to defeat Hartlepool 5-2.

Reaction has been frenetic on the message board; here are the thoughts of correspondent Lone Striker:

For 60 minutes of that game we looked relegation certanties, the back 4 looked the worst that they have since the change of Manager, the midfield was ineffective, with no threat up front made worse by losing Macken to injury. The introduction of Ledesma provided a spark and the whole team were lifted along with the crowd. As we got stronger Hartlepool just seemed to lack any appetite for the fight and in the end we got a massive three points. Not sure that the introduction of Smith at centre back made us stronger at the back, I believe the partnership of Lancashire and Butler was showing promise and the two goals conceded today were really bad from a defensive point of view, the result will mask the performance in the first half when we looked all over the place at the back. The decision to drop Taundry was correct after last weeks performance and hopefully the Manager will be brave and leave Ledesma in the team leaving the ineffective Nicholls on the bench, apart from a couple of over hit crosses again he produced zero as an attacking threat and offers no support to Westlake when defending. We need to accept that Ledesma will not be able to have a massive impact on every game he plays and at times will frustrate us, however, we need to win games and he may just be the spark to help us do this.

Results did not go for us today, however, we are still in with a chance of staying up. The loan window closes this week and would like to think that if the manager requires some help from the board to give us a bit more for the last 8 games it will be forthcoming, if Macken has an injury keeping him out for a few weeks a replacement is essential as we need him to hold the ball and link play up front.

Walsall vs Hartlepool United Preview

Neil @ 2:35 pm Friday 18 March 2011

A change in attitude this week is called for. Whereas the Swindon and Yeovil away games were must not lose games and the Orient game was never going to be easy, this next fixture has to be counted as a “must win”. Until recently, it had been the Saddlers’ home form that has let them down so badly this season and this has to be an opportunity to improve the points haul against Hartlepool. They are, after all, a team sitting in mid table with, even at this stage of the season and nine games left for them, virtually nothing left to play for, being 11 points outside the play offs and 14 clear of relegation. Even better, they struggle to score (38 goals in 37 games) and may well be missing their leading scorer!

Dean Smith will have a clean bill of health, other than Aaron Lescott, whose medial ligament strain wont see him fit until next weekend at the earliest. Oliver Lancashire, who went off at half time at Yeovil when he was cramping up, to be replaced by Manny Smith, will almost certainly be OK, however.

I suspect that the main bone of contention around selection will be the right side of midfield, however, as the Taundry experiment hasn’t been totally successful, and whether the flair of Ledesma will be required.

Mick Wadsworth has injury doubts over James Brown and Antony Sweeney.

Striker Brown went over on his ankle during the first half of Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat against Leyton Orient and had to be substituted despite receiving lengthy treatment.

If Brown fails to recover in time Colin Larkin could deputise, although Wadsworth has other options in Ritchie Humphreys and Andy Monkhouse.

Top scorer Sweeney, who missed the midweek defeat against Leyton Orient, remains doubtful with an ankle wound suffered against Plymouth which required stitches.

Veteran midfielder Paul Murray, 34, looks set to keep his place after returning against Orient, but Joe Gamble and Adam Boyd are pushing for recalls following midweek cameo appearances.

Predictions?

Dean Smith put last week’s lacklustre performance at Yeovil down to tiredness, so the full week’s rest – the first for a while – will have been welcome. Although Hartlepool don’t consider themselves out of the play off race, an eleven point gap with just nine games to go looks insurmountable to me and they have lost only one fewer game away from home than we have. I fancy this for a home win.

The Land Is For Sale!

Neil @ 11:57 am Monday 14 March 2011

The club have announced this morning that Suffolk Life, the current landlords, are prepared to sell their interest in the land.

The club, of course, are making reassuring noises that this will not effect them, as the lease is secure. However, as the basis of the ownership of the freehold has always been one of the major bones of contention between supporters and the club, this will, obviously, be of great interest, as will the possibility that this marks the beginning of the end for Jeff Bonser’s association with the club.

The Trust and Unity have a meeting with the club this week and this will, of course, be bound to be a major topic of discussion. The Trust have also announced thier AGM for Tuesday the 29th March at the Saddlers’ Club at 7.45, which will give fans a chance to discuss what our reaction ought to be.

Yeovil Town vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 12:54 pm Friday 11 March 2011

I suppose there will be the usual claims that tomorrow’s fixture is a “must win” game. I suspect that this time it is – but for Yeovil, rather than us, as the other teams fixtures are in our favour, with four of them away from home..

A defeat for the West County team tomorrow will drag them well and truly into the relegation mire, as we will overtake them. Of the other teams in the mix, Bristol Rovers are at home to high flying Huddersfield., Plymouth away at Hartlepool, Dagenham away at an increasingly looking doomed Swindon, Tranmere away at leaders Brighton and Notts County away at Sheffield Wednesday. This could well be a pivotal day in the fight at the bottom.

Dean Smith will, unfortunately, be without the services of Aaron Lescott. The much criticised full back has been in a fairly consistent spell at the moment and his replacement, Westlake, looked far from comfortable on Tuesday night, proving yet again that there is no substitute for experience in the situation we find ourselves. Whether he thinks about moving Taundry to right back, say, and bringing in Byfield, who completed a full 90 minutes in a behind the scenes friendly in the week, with Ledesma out wide, remains to be seen, but that too would be a risk, as I’ve never been convinced by Taundry as a full back and the more Ledesma is on the ball, the better. It might, however, address the current lack of goals.

Yeovil are likely to be without Paul Wotton for the game.

Wotton was substituted five minutes into Saturday`s draw with Huddersfield due to a hamstring injury and missed the return to his old club Southampton on Tuesday. The veteran midfielder is a major doubt for the match, with Ed Upson likely to start.

Skiverton, who has this week opened talks over a contract extension at Huish Park, could also be without defender Paul Huntington and goalkeeper Stephen Henderson, who are both struggling with injuries.

Huntington missed the game at St Mary’s with a toe injury and was replaced by the versatile Adam Virgo while Henderson ended the 3-0 defeat unable to kick the ball.
On-loan striker Oli Johnson may keep his place up front

Predictions?

Yeovil’s home record is won 5, drawn 3 and lost 8 (actually worse than ours!). In those 16 games, they have scored just 16 goals and six of those were against two sides, Swindon and Tranmere! I think this is one of our best remaining chances of an away win this season.

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