Archive for August, 2011

Walsall vs Shrewsbury Town – Report

Neil @ 9:08 am Wednesday 31 August 2011

Good grief, we’re in the second round of a cup competition! Priestley Saddler with an excellent summing up:-

Well, that was closer than it looked like being at half time. That said, we’ll play worse teams than Shrewsbury in our league this season (in fact, in Bournemouth I’d say we already have). They are one of the better sides in League Two, and have already smashed Derby and Swansea in cup matches this season, so we shouldn’t underestimate just how good a result a 2-1 win is.

Nicholls really should have put us infront in the first few minutes but he slipped as he hit it and it just hadn’t got the legs to reach the goal before their defender cleared it.

In any other season, Jarvis goal would have been a shoe-in for Goal Of The Season. However, this time around I’m not entirely convinced it would win Goal Of The Month, as every goal we’ve scored at home this season, including the Taundry one that followed it, has been an absolute corker. You can even add Macken’s friendly goal against Wolves to the list (although being in July it might struggle to win goal of the month :wink: ). However, this in itself concerns me. I find it unlikely we’ll continue to smash in 30 yarders at the required rate all season. It would be like a cricket team scoring nothing but sixes and never getting any one and two’s. That said, if the only negative is that we’re scoring too many spectacular goals and not enough ‘normal’ ones then its a strange thing to complain about.

I expected the second half to be a stroll, but there goal gave them a new lease of life, the ball glancing in off Butler’s head leaving Grof with no chance. However, Shrewsbury did seem to be suffering from ‘Walsall Syndrome’, whereby they had a lot of the ball in a lot of dangerous areas for much of the half, but actually created very little, barring one mad goal mouth scramble where Grof made at least two stunning point blank saves (it may have been three) to keep the lead intact.

I know its a clichy we’ve used a lot already this season, but I really think we’d have thrown that match away 12 months ago. If I was a sloppy I’d be gutted to have lost that.

Grof – If I was being harsh on him, I’d argue Wacka would have held the first of his multiple top class stops and thus negated the need to make the rest. However, that would be unfair on him. His increase in confidence from Saturday was clear for all to see. Handled better, distribution was solid and made good saves. Could do nothing with the goal.
Westlake – After Taundry, our most improved player this season. Really is developing into a top full back at this level.
Sadler – I may be in a minority here, but I think he was lucky not to concede at least one penalty for handball in the closing stages. One after the ‘Grof melee’ and one a minute or two after. Apart from that, was solid throughout. Both defends and attacks very well.
Butler – Really unlucky to be credited with the own goal, lead the defensive line well. Keeps us organised at the back although I still don’t think he’s quite playing at the level he was at back end of last season.
Smith – Another really good performance. Lancashire has a fight on his hands to win his place back. Had a difficult night tonight against a big awkward striker but came out on top.
Gnakpa – Has played with a lot more discipline in the last few games and the team benefits from it. He does seem to have gone from beating his man three times to not taking him on at all. Needs to find the happy medium but is doing well. Again failed to finish the match though.
Hurst – I still think he’s stronger on his right foot, but that also has its advantages. The wingers can swap sides and he links up equally well with either Westlake or Sadler.
Chambers – I think to be honest he was the difference between us winning that match and possibly doing what we did at Bramall Lane. He just has the experience and the know how to see out games like that. His presence also meant we had the option of going five across the middle in the closing stages, which we did.
Taundry – Got sponsors MOTM by virtue of Jarvis penalty hitting the bar. Scored an absolute beauty and just keeps getting better. Over the last few games people have started expecting that level of performance from him, and he hasn’t disappointed.
Nicholls – I think he did really well. Should have scored early but fell over meaning his shot didn’t have the legs to reach the goal before the covering defender. When he didn’t have a pass on he just ran with the ball. Was actually very clever to win the penalty. Beat his fullback, cut into the area, slowed down and waited for the contact. I actually saw him win a header too. Linked up well with Jarvis.
Jarvis – His goal was a scorcher and, despite his penalty miss, I would have given him MOTM. I just hope the missed penalty doesn’t affect his confidence too much. Certainly doesn’t deserve to get dropped when both Macken and Grigg are available.

Subs

Peterlin – Came on for Gnakpa and played on the right. Helped tighten things up but didn’t really make an impact.
Beevers – Did exactly the same job he did at Bournemouth, came on in the closing stages to shore things up.

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Walsall vs Shrewsbury Town Preview

Neil @ 10:56 am Tuesday 30 August 2011

Ryan Jarvis will have an immediate chance to prove that his two goals at Bournemouth on Saturday were no flash in the pan when the Saddlers meet old enemy Shrewsbury Town in the Paint Pot Trophy tonight, as young striker Will Grigg is away on International duty.

This game will say a lot about Dean Smith’s attitude to the Cup competitions this season, as there will be a temptation to play some of the fringe players. Although this does give an opportunity of a Wembley final, the competition is also something of a distraction from the real business of the League and the crowds usually show that it’s difficult to get excited about it until the later stages.

Walsall are waiting on Jon Macken and Jimmy Walker. Macken missed Saturday’s impressive 2-0 victory at Bournemouth nursing a slight ankle knock and will be assessed before the first-round tie. Jimmy Walker also missed out on the south coast with his partner due to give birth.

David Grof stepped in and made some impressive saves, leaving Smith comfortable in the knowledge he can again rely on the Hungarian youngster should Walker declare himself unavailable.

Grigg will definitely not feature, however, having linked up with Northern Ireland’s Under-21s squad for their European Championship qualifier.

Joe Jacobson is a doubt for Shrewsbury, while James Collins, like Grigg, is unavailable due to international commitments.

Left-back Jacobson was forced off late in Saturday’s 2-1 league victory over Swindon having taken a blow to the back and will likely for replaced for the Northern Section first-round tie at the Banks’s Stadium. Reuben Hazell is again set to step in.

Striker Collins has been called up by the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21s squad for their European Championship qualifier on Thursday.

Town boss Graham Turner kept faith with the same side against Swindon as the one which saw off Swansea in the Carling Cup earlier last week, but despite stressing his desire to progress in the JPT, he has hinted at freshening up his side for this game in order to give some players a much-needed rest. That means the likes of Steven Leslie, ex Saddler Matt Richards and Tom Bradshaw are all poised to feature.

Predictions?

If Turner does succumb to the temptation of resting some players and Dean Smith, as I believe he will do, takes this seriously, then it looks like a home win and maybe a cup run to me!

Saddlers crush Cherries on the coast

roger6 @ 8:37 am Sunday 28 August 2011

Away day magic on the south coast for Walsall yesterday as they beat Bournemouth 2-0 in impressive style thanks to a Ryan Jarvis brace. Chester Saddler was there and offered this analysis via the message board:

Great result and a good performance, apart from the first 15 minutes when we were all over the place. In fact, had Bournemouth taken their chances and Westlake not made an excellent goaline clearance, we could well have been 2 or 3 down. The suddenly, a break down the left, a cross by Sadler and the ref was pointing to the spot. Up stepped Jarvis who confidently knocked it in and it was a different game. The rest of the first half was far more even as we started to knock the ball about with confidence.

Second half, we were played some really good football, and had the lion’s share of possession. Once the second goal went in there was only going to be one winner, despite one or two scares and another goal line clearance, this time from Smith. Jarvis’ second goal was a rare thing indeed – a headed goal by a Walsall striker from a corner!

Apart from the increased possession, what I like about us this season is that the midfield players are getting into the opposition box more or close to the box and then releasing short passes for others to run onto. Lots of that in the second half today from Chambers, Hurst and Taundry.

Player performances:

Grof – Jesus, did we miss Jimmy. The guy was a bag of nerves and has to thank the defence for the clean sheet. He looked OK the only other time I have seen him (Greenock Morton) so hopefully we can put today down to the lack of experience, but no doubt I will worry the next time I see his name in the starting line up.

Full backs both played well and worked hard. Both supported well going forward.

Butler and Smith also played well, particularly in the air.

As a unit the back four did well apart from the start where we were cut open down the channels between centre back and full back. Once they sorted that out it was mostly regulation stuff.

Taundry had another fine game, busy as usual, but also creative, especially in the second half. Gnakpa had his best game today, due to the fact that he defended and tackled far more than in previous matches. No doubt Smith has been at him about this. He wasvisibly tired when substituted on the hour. Hurst had another good game and Chambers return seemed to give us a little more energy than we had against Yeovil last week. If he could kick with his left foot he would surely be playing at a higher level.

Grigg and Jarvis worked well together. Grigg made lots of runs off the ball and made himself available, and Jarvis put himself about and won some good headers, particularly the one which ended up in the net.

By the time the substitutions were made, the result was in the bag, but none of them had a negative impact on the shpe or balance of the team.

Overall, really chuffed with the win. The note of caution would be that a better side than Bournemouth will make us pay if we start as slowly as we did today.

Good turnout today. Lots of families, presumably making a weekend of it on the coast.

AFC Bournemouth vs Walsall

Neil @ 12:20 pm Friday 26 August 2011

Well, it’s Bank Holiday weekend (you can tell by the fact that it’s raining) and it’s a trip to the seaside for the Saddlers tomorrow, as they wend their way down to Bournemouth.

I suppose a good few will be making a weekend of it, so let’s hope they have a good time. At least the place has lost the tag it had a few years ago as a retirement spot, so the population was so old they had to go around the bus shelters every night to remove the expired wrinklies. There is the disadvantage, however, that the surfers have moved in, so watch out for weirdoes. I never could get the point of doing a pastime here, as opposed to Hawaii, when the waves are, in the immortal words of Marriott Edgar’s “Albert and the Lion”, “fiddlin’ and small,” and the air temperature is about 15 degrees less. Still, no accounting for taste.

Jon Macken was a doubt for the Saddlers, after picking up an ankle knock in training on Wednesday, but he is now expected to be fit. That means we will be at full strength, with the return from suspension of Adam Chambers, who had a full 90 minute workout for the reserves against Stoke.

Bournemouth Manager, former Saddler Lee Bradbury, has a few more worries.

They could welcome back Ryan Doble, currently on loan from Southampton, who missed their League Cup defeat to the Baggies with a thigh strain but could bolster manager Lee Bradbury’s attacking options.

Steven Gregory has a thigh injury and is a doubt after missing the Carling Cup clash.

Bradbury will definitely not be able to call upon Michael Symes and Joe Partington. Symes has a back problem and Partington is ruled out with a hip injury.

They should, however, also have new £80,000 signing from Swansea, Welsh International midfielder Shaun MacDonald, in the side

Predictions?

This is Bradbury’s first full season in charge and it doesn’t look like being an easy one. Out have gone Danny Hollands (Charlton, free), Ben Williamson (Hyde, free), Jason Pearce (Portsmouth, undisclosed), Rhoys Wiggins (Charlton, undisclosed), Ryan Garry (retired) and Anton Robinson (Huddersfield, undisclosed). He has bought in Darryl Flahavan (Portsmouth, free), Adam Barrett (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Steven Gregory (AFC Wimbledon, undisclosed), Scott Malone (Wolves, loan until January), and Nathan Byrne (Tottenham, season loan) and now, of course, Shaun MacDonald. The team is, however, struggling to find a blend and have lost one and won one of their home League games to date, losing to Stevenage and beating Sheffield Wednesday. I fancy a point from this one.

Walsall 1-1 Yeovil: Match reaction

Exile @ 12:43 am Sunday 21 August 2011

Walsall managed to scrape a point despite being the hangover victims after Tuesday’s rollercoaster. The curse of Family Fun Day struck again.

A quick poll, then onto the match report, courtesy of WFC_Rob. Tell him what you think on the match thread here


Are we happy?
  • Ask me next week (39%, 101 Votes)
  • No (34%, 88 Votes)
  • Yes (27%, 69 Votes)

Total Voters: 258

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WFC_Rob saw the game this way:

An underwhelming performance, all in all. That was my first match of the season and the family ‘fun’ day curse seemed to strike again.

I didn’t think it would be possible against a side like Yeovil, but I thought we paid them too much respect and gave them too much time on the ball. That might have been a consequence of our efforts on Tuesday night, but regardless, I thought they had it far too easy in midfield.

I like our style of play. We pass the ball where we can, yet we do have a plan B in Gnakpa who wins an awful lot in the air for a wide man. That said, the simple football didn’t get us very far this afternoon, as we really lacked a killer ball or enough movement to give their back four a hard time.

Our goal was top notch. Gnakpa played Macken in at the right time and his finish was superb. Would Macken have tried that last season? I think not, so credit where it’s due to Smith for giving him the confidence to try his luck.

Their goal was awful from our point of view. One ball over the top and their striker (who had already got in behind Lancashire once with his pace) lapped up the chance.

I thought Butler and Lancashire were given a bit of a tough time by Obika and Williams. Neither could get to grips with Obika’s strength, and Williams’ pace got them the goal as well as another good chance. I think our back four is generally quite strong, but Butler and Lancashire just need to be a bit more wary of pace.

Our struggle was ultimately due to a lack of options. Taundry has undoubtedly improved since last season and he does ever so well when required to track back and help defend. His problem is that at the moment, we seem to be needing him to provide the creative part of our play, which he struggles with. Once they brought on a left back to man mark Gnakpa, we had no answer and created very little going forward.

There have bene plenty of calls for us to sign a pacy striker, which would be a great option to have in the squad. If we don’t sign someone with a bit more nouse going forward from midfield though, we won’t create the chances for this pacy striker to latch onto.

I felt that the draw was a sign of our progress since last season (we lost 1-0 in the same fixture) but to get where we want to be, ie. beating sides like Yeovil fairly comfortably at home, we’ll need one or two additions to the squad.

Walsall vs Yeovil Town Preview

Neil @ 10:47 am Saturday 20 August 2011

Walsall have a chance to bounce back from the ultimately disappointing defeat at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night, but at least have the boost of an excellent performance against one of the promotion favourites. A game against one of the Division’s teams at the lower end of the budgetary scale may be exactly what is called for.

Dean Smith has a fully fit squad to choose from, with only Adam Chambers, serving the last game of his suspension, missing. It is difficult to see that there will be any changes from the starting XI at Bramall Lane, given the quality of that performance.

Dean Smith’s comments after the game suggest that will be the case:

The lads were superb at Bramall Lane on Tuesday,” he told the club’s official website. “Everyone put in a great shift and if we continue to play like we did for the majority of the game then we will win more than we lose this season.”

As for Yeovil, Terry Skiverton also has a fully fit squad to choose from for the game as he looks to turn around the club’s disappointing start to the season.

That means a return for 20-year-old striker Jonathan Obika. The former Tottenham youngster missed the 1-0 home defeat to MK Dons in midweek because of the injury he sustained in the Glovers’ only win of the season against Oldham last Saturday.

Obika may replace fellow striker Steven MacLean, who is yet to score so far this season, while Kieran Agard will probably have to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench.

Summer signing Curtis Haynes-Brown was also absent in midweek but should be involved after recovering from illness.

Predictions?

Four games for Yeovil so far this season (the League Cup tie wasn’t against a team from a higher Division, either) and it’s been three defeats. Their only win came at home against Oldham, who had started slowly this season, so I’ll go for a home win on this one.

Sheffield United vs Walsall

Neil @ 8:50 am Wednesday 17 August 2011

It’s bound to be disappointing losing 2 – 3 after being 2 nil up, but this was a performance from the Saddlers full of promise, as they totally outplayed one of the promotion favourites for an hour of this game, only to have the match changed by some substitutions – something few teams in this Division have the resources to do.

Several correspondents tell a similar tale.

Sheffield Saddler: “Of course most Saddlers went there hoping for a miracle, when it went 2-0 most of us thought it would be.
The turning point of the match came when at 2-0, Simonsen in the Blades goal palmed a shot out and it fell to Grigg, all he had to do was put it past the keeper, which he did, unfortunately he put it past the post as well.
No way on earth they would have came back from 3-0.
The other turning point came when Wilson brought on Williamson, he absolutely mulled Sadler time and time again. So from Sadler having an easy game and getting forward, he just went to pieces.
In fact for a 15-20 minute spell after the chance for 3-0, the whole team went to pieces. Giving the ball away, defending too deep and giving United time on the ball.
A definate penalty as Williamson once again gave Sadler the run around.
Oh, and we had a shot off post to make it 3-3.
Overall for first 45 minutes we held our own and for first 15 minutes of second half we were superb and I mean superb.
Next 20 minutes absolutely awful.
Final 10 minutes back to first 45 minutes.
UTS!
More positives then negatives thats for sure”.

Begian Saddler: “How we lost that is beyond me. I went there expecting a defeat but I thought we totally outplayed them for 40 munutes in the first half. Excellent passing and movement and created quite a few chances. Best I have seen us play for ages. They came back into it last 5 minutes of first half and at HT there was a feeling that we really should of been a couple of goals to the good. We came out second half and those worries were swept away as we completely mullered then for a while and went 2 up. Then should have gone 3 up, that would have won it. They came back into it then and to be fair played well and pushed us back. We just couldn’t seem to get the composure back that we had for most of the first hour. We just seemed to have no answer to them for a 15 minute spell and that killed us. We came back into it then and couldn’t believe it when Hurst hit the post, gutted!

We certainly deserved at least a point but the result is what counts. Cannot really criticise anyone. Butler was Butler, Lancashire looks better every time I see him, Taundry is a man transformed, Pieterlin looked good, Westlake seems to have improved defensively, one superb save from Wakka, Hurst looked dangerous, Gnakka flattered to deceive.

Absolutely gutted to have lost but as Tommo said to me on the way out, this time last year we came out of Orient away jubilant after an inept 0-0 draw as a team with no heart, direction or clue. Tonights performance was light and day compared to that. Not many teams will play United off the park at Bramhall Lane as much at we did for large parts of the match tonight. We will play a lot worse and win matches. Not scoring when we were so dominant in the first half cost us along with losing it for that 15 minute spell in 2nd half. Hopefully we will learn from the experience and inexperience cost us in that 15 minute spell but I really can’t criticise anyone after that performance.

In Deano we trust”.

Priestley Saddler: “More gutted than a furniture shop in Croydon after that. Before the game I expected us to lose 2/3-0, and to be honest it would have been easier to live with.

Our first half performance was the best I’ve seen a Walsall team play for ages. We passed the ball well, we pressured high up the pitch, we won nearly all the second balls and we looked solid at the back. We dominated the middle of the park and Peterlin was looking really dangerous breaking from midfield. We had the best of the chances too but a lot of them we’re edge of the box/just outside the area attempts. Macken had the best attempt when Simonsen made a top top save to push a rasping shot on to the bar and out for a corner. They came back into it and probably ended the half the stronger but on the balance of play we had been comfortably the better team. The most pleasing aspect though was that I don’t think Sheffield United were playing badly, we were just so much better.

I personally expected Danny Wilson to give them a right rollicking at half time and they’d come out all guns blazing, but yet straight from the kick off we scored without them even touching the ball, except for the deflection on Hurts’s shot that took it beyond Simonsen, scoring against his old club. The second goal soon followed, their keeper flapped and Grigg banged it home, 2-0. I must admit at that point I was starting to wonder whether we might have been seeing the start of something special if we could go to places like Bramall Lane and turn Sheffield United over in the manner that we were doing. Simonsen fumbled another shot and Gnakpa put the rebound wide (it must have been a save as a corner was given). Had it gone in we were home and hosed, but it didn’t and from that point on we never had a look in. Williamsons introduction was pivotal and they quickly got one back, and sadly from that point on there was only ever going to be one winner. We were sitting deeper and deeper and I said to kiansmom that Sheff Utd are too good a side for us to go as flat as that and they would pick us off (some bloke infront of me decided to tell me he thought I was wrong and that Sheff Utd weren’t that good, but actually they were. The fact we’d outplayed them for the first 55 minutes was testament to how well we’d played, not how poor they’d been). Where we were winning all the second balls we were now not winning any, we were panicky in possession and Taundry and Peterlin went from being immense to annonymous. It was almost as though we’d given so much for the first hour that we just completely ran out of steam at the prospect of them coming back at us, even though we were still leading. And therein lies the major worry, as we had nobody who we could bring on as a calming influence to steady the nerves down, and it showed the fragility within the side. We choked on the lead tonight when three points were there for the taking.

That said, there are a lot of positives to take from the game. Not every team in this league is going to have a player who can come on at 0-2 and change a game in the way Williamson did. They’re not all going to have the ability to come back from a couple of goals down, I don’t think there are many sides in the league who could have beaten us tonight, despite the soft underbelly we showed in the latter stages. Arguably for the last 10 minutes we became the better side again, they deflected one of our efforts onto the post and we looked dangerous. Even Nicholls got a couple of decent balls across. But it wasn’t meant to be. Sheffield Utd resorted to spoiling tactics in the closing stages, holding the ball in the corner, Simonsen blatantly time wasting. But again, that was testament to us that they felt they had to do that to stop us getting something from the match.

No doubt the players and Deano will be gutted to have lost that, but when they analyse the match again in the cold light of day then they’ll take a huge number of positives from the game and it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick them up again for Saturday. If our support can be as vocal on Saturday and all season as they were tonight (Walsall FC Official sent a shout out on Facebook to the fantastic support at HT), and we can play how we did for 2/3 of the match then we really might achieve something this season.

Really enjoyed the game and the night, gutted by the result, but really proud to be a Saddler”.

Sheffield United vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 9:27 am Tuesday 16 August 2011

An average attendance of 20,632 in a relegation season, a stadium with a 32,500 capacity and the budgets to match, there is no doubt that Sheffield United have the resources to be a Championship, or even a lower Premiership, side. Let’s hope that they don’t share the arrogant attitude of their Yorkshire neighbours in Leeds and bear in mind that they are in neither Division, but in the third tier and are there because they deserve to be – they were relegated fair and square.

Dean Smith has a fully fit squad to choose from for the trip to Sheffield, with only Adam Chambers (suspension) and, possibly, Andy Butler missing. The club have, quite rightly, appealed the referee’s ridiculous decision to send Butler off on Saturday, but the FA are notorious for backing refs and ignoring the facts in these kind of cases. If Butler is missing, then I would expect many Smith for him to be the only change from Saturday.

As for Danny Wilson’s United (it still seems strange to talk about a Sheffield Wednesday stalwart as manager of the Blades!), Lee Williamson and Daniel Bogdanovic are hoping to return to the starting line-up.

Midfielder Williamson and striker Bogdanovic have not started in either of their league games so far, but stepped off the bench midway through the second half of Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Brentford and gave manager Danny Wilson plenty to ponder.

Recent loan signing Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Jordan Slew (rated by their fans) both started at the weekend and Wilson has several selection dilemmas with no new injury or suspension worries.

Midfielder Kevin McDonald made his debut against Brentford after signing from Burnley at the end of last week and is hoping to retain his place.

Summer signings Chris Porter and Ryan Flynn remain sidelined after missing the last two games with a dead leg and tight hamstring respectively.

Ins and Outs over the Summer:

Players in: Jean-Francois Lescinel (Swindon, free), Danny Philliskirk (Chelsea, undisclosed), Chris Porter (Derby, free), Ryan Flynn (Falkirk, free)

Players out: Jamie Ward (Derby, undisclosed), Darius Henderson (Milwall, undisclosed), Kingsley James (Port Vale, free), Phil Roe (Port Vale, free), Mark Yeates (Watford, undisclosed).

Predictions?

They’ve played 2, won 2 in the League this season so far and it’s difficult to see us getting anything from this one. Still, if they are complacent . . . . . . . . .

Hartlepool 1-1 Walsall: Match Reaction

Exile @ 11:31 pm Saturday 13 August 2011

In a case of deja vu all over again, the poll today is on discpline and our regular UTSer priestley_saddler provides the report. Go join him and talk about it on the messageboards after voting in our lastest poll:


All these cards are a sign of:
  • bad discipline (49%, 106 Votes)
  • rubbish referees (36%, 78 Votes)
  • player commitment (15%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 218

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Just got back, what a thoroughly bizarre match.

We actually got a penalty, which came as such a shock that nobody quite knew what to do “What theif hock is one of these?” was the immediate chant. Macken remembered how to take them, and stroked it in sending the keeper the wrong way.

Contrary to what Sky reported, their goalkeeper didn’t score the equaliser, but only because their striker goal snatched it on the line. Long clearance, Butler let it go over his head to go to Wacka, who was deceived by the combination of wind and bounce, was caught in no mans land as it drifted in.

Then the sendings off. Butler had got his back to us when he went in for the tackle, he may have gone in two footed but my initial reaction was that he hadn’t. Their player definitely did though, and then proceeded to “do a Chambers” and role around the floor in the hope his opponent would get sent off too. Only unfortunately for us, this time it worked and Butler was dismissed.

Whether I was just too dumbstruck reacting to the Butler the decison or what, but I didn’t see a red card brandished to their player. I saw him hobble off and expected him to come sprinting back on as soon as he realised his plan had worked, but he didn’t and he went off down the tunnel too. Hopefully Butler punched him when they were out of view.

Our reaction was that Butler must have been sent off for something he said, but at the start of the second half when the linesman comes down to check if there are any holes in the net, he answered a fans “What was the red card for linesman?” query by saying “Serious foul play”.

Yet again I’m a bit concerned by Deano’s insistence that we will appeal this. I haven’t seen it again yet, but surely if he went for a two footed tackle there are no grounds to appeal anyway. But this brings me to a slightly bigger issue. His post match comments are that he doesn’t believe either player deserved to go. Now their player definitely went in two footed. And whether Deano thinks two footed tackles deserve a straight red or not, that’s irrelevant. The fact is, they are. So it needs to be drummed into the players heads not to do it. Lack of discipline is gonna cost us, I’m sure Mackens booking was for dissent.

Walker – Obvious error for the goal, but made up for it with a cracking stop 10 minutes from the end. Commanded his box as well as always and restored the confidence in his defence.
Westlake – Has started the season well, and adapted well when we changed from a back four to a back three.
Sadler – See Westlake
Lancashire – MOTM. Marshalled the defence superbly after Butler’s dismissal and really stepped up to the plate in the absence of his captain.
Butler – Not one of his better days. Was at fault with Wacka for the goal and was then harshly dismissed (I might revise this view after watching TFLS)
Taundry – Kept up his impressive early season form, ran Lancashire close for MOTM.
Peterlin – Slotted in well to the point we didn’t really miss Chambers, but doesn’t use the ball as well. Still a steady full debut for the American.
Hurst – Really hard working for a winger. However, I don’t think he’s a left winger as he doesn’t seem to have a left foot. Would like to see him tried on the other side.
Gnakpa – Everytime he gets the ball I expect him to do something with it, because he does have the ability. However, it just hasn’t quite fell for him yet, a bit like his shot that cleared the stand.
Macken – Is 33 next month and by now should have enough experience to know you’re only asking for trouble when you’re penalised for a foul so respond by picking it up and hurling it at the ground. Was naturally booked. Took his penalty well and looks our most dangerous player.
Grigg – Had a couple of chances second half. Needs a goal to kick start his season.

Subs

Nicholls – Ran around chasing balls he was never gonna catch.
Jarvis – Didn’t run around chasing balls he would have caught if he’d have bothered to try. I’m sure MMF will appreciate me pointing out that he now falls into that rare breed. A white Walsall player who is a lazy so and so.
Beevers – Came on in midfield, didn’t have time to make an impact.

Hartlepool United vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:32 pm Friday 12 August 2011

The first away trip of the season sees the long trip up to the North East and one of the most welcome visits of the season – our old friends at Hartlepool, with whom we seem to have developed such a good relationship since the Dicky Dosh promotion season.

Last week’s opening day win needs to be followed up, of course, so it would be good to see the Saddlers geared up for the task ahead. We will, however, be missing Adam Chambers, of course, starting his three game suspension following that two footed challenge on Tuesday night. Dean Smith thinks he was unlucky, but, as I said in the Advertiser column this week, whereas that would not have been a red card ten or fifteen years ago, it most certainly is, in the current climate, and Chambers should have been aware of that fact.

Peterlin is the player almost certain to replace Chambers and, to be fair, he had a decent game against Boro in trying circumstances and we will also be strengthened by the return of Will Grigg from International duty.

As for Hartlepool, they are without last season’s top scorer, Anthony Sweeney. The midfielder was forced out in the closing stages of normal time in the Carling Cup penalty shootout defeat to Sheffield United in midweek with a groin strain.

First-team coach Mick Wadsworth has plenty of options to cover for Sweeney, with Paul Murray and summer signing Nathan Luscombe in the reckoning for a place in the starting line-up.

Wadsworth will still be without strike pair James Brown and Colin Larkin, who have yet to feature for Pools this season due to respective ankle injuries.

Larkin returned to full training this week but is not ready, while another forward, James Poole, is hoping to make his first start of the season.

Predictions?

Hartlepool also got off to a decent start last week, being pegged back to a draw at the Franchise, thanks to a late equaliser from Jabo Ibehre, no less. That means that this is by no means an easy fixture and I’ll be happy with a point.

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