Archive for September, 2011

Walsall vs Carlisle Preview

Neil @ 12:15 pm Friday 30 September 2011

The season has to start now. That bright start has rapidly faded away and we are now left hovering too close to the relegation zone. Despite all of the words coming from the Manager and players, that has not been because of bad luck, or bad refereeing decisions either, but because of a lack of quality and an over reliance on a few key players. Just to make things difficult for us, one of those key players, Andy Butler, will be suspended tomorrow following his sending off at Colchester last week.

The last word from the club was that Claude Gnakpa was expected to be fit again ( and he is making the right noises about wanting to improve on his stuttering start to the season, so that is promising. His return should enable Hurst to move back to the left wing in place of Martin, who has returned to Derby with an injury. George Bowerman’s double strike in the reserve’s win at Sheffield United this week may well se him making an appearance, from the bench, at least.

Carlisle Manager Gregg Abbott seems to be something of an enigma to Cumbrian fans, as he has used a bewildering Mersonesque 50 odd loan players in three years. Four of his summer signings have only found a place on the bench so far.

Their major worry, however, is an injury to leading scorer Lee Miller. He had made a goal e very game start to the season until picking up a groin injury last week. The Manager is expecting him to be fit, however.

Predictions?

Weird one this. Carlisle have ten points from their away games so far, with three wins. That’s more points than they have picked up at home. A lot may well depend on whether Miller is fit enough to play. If he doesn’t. I think we have enough to win this one.

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Colchester 1 Walsall 0 – Wheels coming off?

roger6 @ 9:48 pm Saturday 24 September 2011

A disappointing trip to Essex as the Saddlers slipped further down the table with a 1-0 defeat at Colchester. The penalty was a bit dodgy but in truth had it not been for Jimmy Walker we could have lost by five or six.

Priestley Saddler has supplied one of his typically comprehensive match verdicts on the message board

On the one hand I’d like to blame for the ref and linesman for the result. They scored one goal, which was a penalty that the linesman for a foul 5 yards outside the box. The only way he could possibly believe it was a penalty was the way the Colchester player waited until he was in the area before he went down. Not even the covering defenders (one or both of Beevers and Smith) were enough to stop Butler seeing red for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, which is a one match ban not three I believe.

However, if it hadn’t been for a combination of Wacka and their striker thinking he was Fernando Torres we’d have probably lost by 5 or 6. The most worrying aspect is that Colchester looked like a team that hadn’t won in four and were desperately poor, but were still comfortably better than we were. On the balance of play we deserved exactly what we got from the game, but if the officials had done their jobs properly we’d have come away with a point.

With regards to the team selection, Martin was missing with an ankle injury. I wasn’t at the Scunthorpe game last week so can’t comment on how Lancashire played, but bringing Smith back in seemed odd. Chambers and Taundry still doesn’t work in the middle, quite when Deano will see this is anyones guess. I might start a sweepstake and see who can pick which match this pairing gets broken up first. As for tactics, after the red card Deano went 4-4-1, which is probably fair enough. However, this did imply he wanted to keep a player wide right, so I fail to see why to achieve this he decided to take off our right winger, who was our quickest and potentially creativest player, and stick Grigg there. To be fair to Grigg I thought he put a shift in on the right second half, but he was still a square peg in a round hole. In an attempt to chase the game we sacrificed our striker to bring on a right back, which sounds more harsh than it was. There was no pace in the side at all, and Westlake is quicker than Grigg. He was the option of an outlet but the fact that at that point that was our best bet should send alarm bells ringing for everyone.

Horrible place, ground in the middle of nowhere, and there’s no atmosphere inside it at all. Hope one of us get relegated so we don’t have to go there again next season, and praying we don’t draw them in the cup.

Walker – Comfortably MOTM. Rolled back the years with some really good stops, including one top class save in the second half. Also played as a sweeper and had a 30 second spell at right back where he was biting at there wingers heals by the corner flag.

Beevers – If Wacka was MOTM by a street then Beevers was without any question our best outfield player by the same margin. Defended well, was strong in the tackle, got forward well down the right and actually looked the most likely to drag us back into the game.

Sadler – Seems to have gone off the boil the last couple of games, and wasn’t great today. Took his time to get to grips with their winger (the one responsible for Butler’s red), who actually died in the third minute from an aerial clash. Soon recovered and was running around and falling over infront of the aforementioned hapless linesman.

Butler – I don’t recall a player previously having two red cards rescinded in such a short space of time, but its possible with Butler. Can’t really dispute the foul but was never a penalty or a red card.

Smith – Although I wouldn’t have started him, he didn’t do too badly. I still prefer him to Lancashire but played well today. Hoofed the ball a lot but mostly because none of the midfield quartet gave him the short option.

Taundry – I’d originally just written ‘Annonymous’ but felt the need to elaborate. He just didn’t seem to be involved. The only time I noticed him is when he wasn’t where he should have been and when he wasn’t giving the centre halves an option and leaving them to hoof it.

Chambers – Again, ‘Annonymous’ would have been sufficient. One of him or Taundry MUST give way. Our best performances have come when Peterlin has been in the side. Although after Chambers goal last week and Taundry’s two assists it was unlikely to be today.

Paterson - Unlucky to be brought off, but to be fair hadn’t done a great deal prior to being replaced. His corners, which always look good in the reserves, hit the first man today.

Hurst – Turning into a huff and puff man. Runs around a lot, slowly. Dribbles with it, then loses it. Attempts crosses, and hits the defender. Lots of effort but no quality to go with it. His position would be the one I’d be looking to strengthen, but Martin doesn’t look like the answer either.

Grigg – Was poor upfront but actually improved when switched to the right. The best way to sum his performance up is with an incident in the second half. Beevers played it down the right for Grigg to run on to. He looked up and played a blinding ball across the six yard box…but the fact he’d looked up means he shouldn’t have played that ball. He should have held it up and waited for support.

Macken – Ran his nads off with little or no support. Beat their left back for pace a couple of times which was probably the most shocking thing to happen today. Could have won a penalty in the second half if he’d hung his leg out and waited for contact rather than riding a challenge.

Subs

Lancashire – Its a bit odd that his two best performances this season have come when Butler hasn’t been on the pitch, both today and at Hartlepool. Didn’t seem to miss a lot today and why Deano keeps dropping him is a mystery to me.

Westlake – Came on for Grigg and played right wing, but didn’t really have much of an impact.

Jarvis – Tried a 30 yard lob that drifted about 6 feet over and was his only notable contribution.

Colchester United vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 5:40 pm Friday 23 September 2011

Losing, like winning, can become a habit. So many footballers survive on confidence, that a slump by a team can effect everyone in it – and the Saddlers are certainly on the crest of a slump at the moment.

It’s not just the run of below average results, there have been a whole series of below par performances making up those results and that means the signs are obvious. If Dean Smith can’t get this lot to buck their ideas up, especially in the crucial midfield area, then he will have to think about action to bring in someone who can grab the centre of the park and start creating something for the side.

Dean Smith does have one piece of very good news, however, in that Jon Macken returned to training this week and is contention to start at the Weston Community Homes Stadium (what a mouthful that is!) against Colchester tomorrow. That does give him another chance to play the 4 5 1 he used against Scunthorpe, but with more chance of success, given Macken ‘s ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play. I actually think that Jarvis may well be suited to playing off the front man as well, so that would be interesting.

Gnakpa is the only injury, so Paterson may get another start too, especially given the nice things his manager has been saying about him this week, as well.

As for Colchester, they will be missing their improbably named midfielder John-Joe O’Toole.

He’s serving the second game of a three match ban for the red card he received at Brentford, foilowing a “lunging” tackle on Weston. They will also be missing Ashley Vincent and Bradley Hamilton, who are still recovering from their respective knee and facial injuries.

Predcitions?

These two clubs have near identical records at the moment. The Us are a point and one place ahead of us, having won 1, drawn 2 and lost 1 at home, as against our away record of won 1, drawn 1, lost 2. I think we can get a draw out of this if Dean can get the team going again.

Walsall 2-2 Scunnies: Bishop Desmond match report

Exile @ 6:35 am Sunday 18 September 2011

A tutu result. Scunthorpe still without a win and we’ve arrested the slide with our first point in four games.


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Here’s a bit of a match report from regular Wyrley. Talke about it here on the messageboards. Highly recommended as there’s some good debate (as well as some numpties)!

We were very poor. We just have a distinctive lack of pace and quality. The only one with a bit of flair was Paterson who was my MOTM by a country mile. Scunny have every right to feel aggrieved. They were the better team throughout and really should’ve won.

Scunny are a good team, knocked it around nicely and exploited the space very well. However, they lack that cutting edge upfront to make the a real force.

We need to make changes and quick.

Walker – Good to see him back and his experienced showed, pulling off a few decent saves.

Beevers – Woeful, No way is he better than Westlake. He’s too slow and clumsy. He is very unfit too. For most of the second half he looked like he was about to collapse.
Butler – Did what he could, few decent tackles. Had a decent game.
Lancashire – Did ok i think.
Sadler – As reliable as always. Nothing spectacular but consistant!

Taundry – Few good moments but spent most the game running round like a headless chicken
Chambers – Had an ok game, but still not a patch on preseason.
Peterlin – Too inconsistant. Seemed to do something good and then follow it up by messing up the simplest of passes.
Martin – The bloke is just awful. Doesn’t think about anything. Hopefully he’ll come good, but just can’t see it

Paterson – Bright spark out of the lot. Skill and pace and looked good, especially in the first half and towards the end of the second. My MOTM
Jarvis – Too slow and useless in the air. Did show some nice touches, but i’d much rather have Macken up top.

SUBS
Grigg – Fantastic goal and worked hard. Decent appearance.
Nicholls – Did fairly well to be fair, one of his better performances
Hurst – Looked bright when he came on but didn’t have much time to make an impact.

Walsall vs Scunthorpe United Preview

Neil @ 4:06 pm Friday 16 September 2011

You shouldn’t be getting key games in September, but the Saddlers certainly have got one tomorrow. A run of three successive defeats, two of them at home, has the dangers attached to it that losing can become a habit – one which we can ill afford to catch.

Add to that the fact that the game is against one of the early season strugglers (Scunthorpe haven’t managed a single win yet this season, home or away) and the need for three points tomorrow becomes self evident.

It’s no coincidence that the Saddler’s worst results this season have tended to come when the all important Jon Macken is missing or not fully fit and he still won’t be available tomorrow as his hamstring strain hasn’t cleared up. He is hoping to be fit for next week, but that leaves us with just Grigg, Jarvis and Paterson to choose from up front. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Paterson given the nod ahead of Grigg.

Claude Gnakpa is another absentee, but he will be replaced, like as not, by the loanee, Martin, who was unfortunate to be thrown in the deep end on Tuesday without any time to even get to know his new team mates, so, hopefully, we can expect more from him.

Smith’s other choices are bringing back Walker for Grof (and it would seem hard on Grof to drop him) and Smith or Lancashire. That latter decision may well depend on how big the opposition strikers are. Big and strong, Smith, small and nippy, Lancashire.

Scunny are still without striker Andy Barcham, who is suspended He was given a straight red card in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United and will now serve the second match of his three-game suspension.

Knill has no fresh injury worries, but is still missing a clutch of players due to injury.

Jordan Robertson (ankle), Cliff Byrne (back), Michael Collins (Achilles), Josh Lillis (knee) and Matt Godden (hip) remain sidelined.

Predictions?

Scunny’s record is won 0, drawn 5, lost 3. A win is a must.

Saddlers 0-1 Oldham: match report

Exile @ 10:33 pm Tuesday 13 September 2011

Walsall fell short at home, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Oldham. UTS Regular Whitti Steve was at the game and in his usual laconic manner summed up Walsall’s performance. here’s his report:

Absolute cack

Join him on the message board thread here to flesh out his summary and add your own comments.

No bounty at County for Saddlers

roger6 @ 11:54 pm Saturday 10 September 2011

Notts County 2 Walsall 1
Disappointment in Nottingham today for the Saddlers as they went down 2-1 to a Notts County side still recovering from a midweek trip to Italy to play Juventus.

Cully was at the match and left these thoughts on the message board:

Well that was absolute torture. Completely out played for the first hour, surrounded by some of the worst humans who thought that by constantly booing and singing pointless songs about Lee Hughes they were in someway supporting the team. He doesn’t care and neither do most of our fans who have more than the average amount of working brain cells, if he played for Walsall and on todays performance when he ran our defence ragged they would be singing his praises. Why don’t these fans just get on and support the team instead of being complete cabbages?

I don’t know what has happened since ‘that’ performance at Sheffield but we were awful all over the field, Macken being the exception as usual followed by a reasonable performance by Butler who after an appalling opening defensive display when he was a spectator to most of the action in our box eventually realising that he ought to put in his usual shift. Why does Smith persist with Nicholls, he’s not very good and most people know it.

The referee was absolute pants, he appeared to ignore his usual senses and act out some preconceived plan which involved ignoring any dangerous tackles, shirt pulls, dives, handballs etc by Notts Country. He was rubbish – FACT, Best bit of the day was definately the pre match drink and tapas at the Riverside pub. That’s it for now, I’m very angry that we are looking to be cannon fodder for any team with a plan.

Here is how the players rated courtesy of Priestley Saddler:

Grof – I’m going to make a prediction now. Barring an injury/sending off for Grof, Wacka wont play again this season. Again did nothing wrong and I don’t think he could have done anything about the goals.

Westlake – Nobby No-Brain behind me spent all match calling for him to be brought off, only to add that we were better off with him after he was replaced. It wasn’t one of his better games to be fair and looked to be at fault for the winner.

Sadler – Mr 8/10 dropped below his usual standards today, scoring just a mere 7. Seemed to be getting frustrated by the lack of movement infront of him and tried to do too much himself going forward.

Butler – His best game for a while. Took one for the team by being booked in the third minute after being caught in posession, but was solid for the rest of the game and claimed the equaliser.

Smith – Up against the aforementioned murderer and did ok. Wasn’t as bad as last week but was up against a better player today.

Chambers – His best game since the Orient match, the engine in the middle and tried to be creative. Its not his fault that he isn’t.

Taundry – Claimed the assist for the goal but seems to have gone off the boil the last two games.

Hurst – Quiet game today, not at his best. If his set pieces had a bit more quality he’d have been a real threat. Switched to the right for periods of the game but was equally ineffective on either side.

Gnakpa – Got involved early but got injured in the first five minutes and was off. Expect him to be out for a couple of weeks.

Jarvis – Deserved to keep his place today but didn’t really contribute and didn’t look dangerous at all.

Macken – Another stupid booking for dissent his only notable contribution until he blasted high and wide in injury time.

Subs

Nicholls – Almost played the whole game. Did ok and battled hard, but as with everything else just seemed to lack that bit of quality.

Grigg – Replaced Jarvis but made no impact whatsoever.

Beevers – Replaced Westlake who was having a bit of a mare, and I don’t think he faired much better. Certainly didn’t convince me he should keep the RB berth.

Notts County vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 7:21 pm Friday 09 September 2011

It’s not often that the build up to a Walsall game is dominated what was happening in Italy on Thursday night, but this week’s trip to Notts County seems to be taking on a somewhat surreal air.

For those who aren’t aware still, County have a long standing relationship with the “Old Lady” of Italian football, Juventus, as they gave them their black and white striped strip. The tale is that they wanted to replace their original pink (yes, pink!) strip and asked one of their players who was English if he had any contacts who could supply a new one. His contact was a County fan and the rest is history. The outcome of all that is they flew out to Turin to play on a friendly on Thursday to mark the opening of Juve’s new stadium and didn’t get back until today (after a 1 – 1 draw). It remains to see how much this has affected them.

Dean Smith’s choices revolve around the questions of Grof or Walker and which two from Grigg, Macken and Jarvis. Macken is now fully fit after being brought back too early last week and Grigg has returned from International duty.

County came out of the match in Turin unscathed.
Defender Stephen Hunt remains sidelined with injury, but Ricky Ravenhill has fully recovered from concussion after he started against Juve.

Lee Hughes came off the bench to score the equaliser in the draw and showed no signs of struggling with a neck injury he suffered against Preston.

Predictions?

Well, Lee Hughes will get shed loads of abuse.

On the football front, I think we are far better set up to play away from home than at home and can see us getting something from this one – draw for me.

Saddlers stung by the Bees

roger6 @ 6:51 pm Sunday 04 September 2011

Walsall 0 Brentford 1
A disappointing result at Bescot yesterday saw the Saddlers slip to a single goal defeat against Brentford. WFC_Rob has left a downbeat assessment on the message board – add your thoughts either via the match thread or directly on Facebook below this article.

To be frank, I thought that was abysmal. Regardless of the improved second half performance, we showed over the course of 90 minutes that we are just a team largely made up of players who will work hard without providing the enterprise needed to break teams down. Brentford looked similar to us in terms of the way they play, but they looked stronger and like they wanted it more. Deano can’t settle for that.

Our main problem for me is that we don’t have a midfield player who can link defence with attack. Of Taundry and Chambers, Taundry is probably the better but still has a tendency to get caught in possession too easily. Despite impressing me in pre season, Chambers isn’t doing it for me – too slow to second balls and seems to be more of a ‘scrapper’ than the quality midfielder we need. That said, it’s the chicken and the egg scenario – is it the midfield’s fault for not collecting the ball from the back four, or is it the back four’s fault for hoofing the ball forward without a second thought? I think Manny Smith is a capable defender, but today showed why you need a defender to do more than just clear the ball from the back. We didn’t get a foothold in the game for 45 minutes thanks to aimless long balls forward. It’s Lancashire over Smith for me, every time.

Ignoring the weakness of our squad, the team selection was also poor today. I could understand why Smith decided to play Macken even though he probably wasn’t quite ready, but dropping Gnakpa was, in my opinion, a huge mistake. Gnakpa is a huge threat in the air and at least gives us an out ball when we can’t play the ball out from the back. He showed when he came on that the ball sticks in the final third for much longer when he’s on the pitch. The number of chances Nicholls has been given to prove himself is beyond a joke now, I’m afraid.

Yes, their ‘keeper made a good save from Hurst and Jarvis came mightily close to adding another goal of the season contender but to be completely honest, picking those highlights out is papering over far too many cracks.

I realise this post probably gives the impression of an overly ‘doom and gloom’ outlook, but we got what we deserved from today’s game

Walsall vs Brentford Preview

Neil @ 9:10 am Friday 02 September 2011

There is an interesting comparison between the two teams tomorrow. Both have relatively young and inexperienced managers, in the shape of Dean Smith and Uwe Rosler and both have gone through a major reshaping of the squad during the closed season. Whether Rosler is working under quite the budgetary restraints that Smith is, is another matter entirely, however. I suspect that the answer to that is a definite no.

Jon Macken will be facing a fitness test to see if he can return to the starting line up, but, with Will Grigg away on International duty, last week’s goalscoring hero Ryan Jarvis will be keeping his place. It’s just a matter of whether Macken is back to partner him, or whether Nicholls or Gnakpa pay up front.

Rosler has some selection problems, as it seems they are without Logan, Legge, Diagouraga, Saunders and Hudson all out . Donaldson is a major doubt and McGinn away on international duty. He will probably be making at least one change up front, as they have made a new signing since the season started. Charlie MacDonald has departed to the Franchise and has been replaced by ex Leeds United man, American Mike Grella. He was only on the bench last week, but is likely to start after they lost 0 – 2 to Tranmere.

Ins and Outs during the close season were:

Players in: Shaleum Logan (Manchester City, free), Marcel Eger (St Pauli, free), Jonathan Douglas (Swindon, free), Clayton Donaldson (Crewe, free), Niall McGinn (Celtic, season loan), Clayton Donaldson (Crewe, free)

Players out: Stephen Wright (released), Lewis Grabban (Rotherham, free), Nicky Forster (retired), David Hunt (Crawley, free), David McCracken (St Johnstone, free), Chris Bush (AFC Wimbledon, free)

Predictions?

The new players are having a little difficulty in gelling at the moment, it would seem. They are one point ahead of us at the moment, with one win and one defeat away from Griffin Park, scoring 2 and conceding 3. They are just ahead of us with one point more, courtesy of two wins at home and one defeat, as against our one win and a draw at the Banks’s. There seems to be little difference between the two sides, as both of our away defeats came at Bramall Lane! I think home advantage (and their injury problems) should give us the edge here and I’ll go for three points.

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