Archive for January, 2012

Walsall vs Notts County – Preview

Neil @ 9:27 pm Monday 30 January 2012

Back to business for the Saddlers tomorrow night, following the enforced lay off at the weekend due to Notts County’s FA Cup obligations.

County went out of the competition at Stevenage on Saturday, unluckily it seems, despite giving a debut to the player they have brough in on loan (and who we were supposed to be chasing), Jonathan Forte. He was replaced at half time in the tie by non other than former Saddler and prize nut case Ishmael Demontagnac!

This is a vital game for the Saddlers, as it is followed on Saturday by a fixture against the team immediately below them in the table, Scunthorpe.

Walsall will, of course, have their new loan signing available for the game, Belgian under 20 captain and creative midfielder, Florent Cuvelier. Hopefully, he should help solve the major problem we have had this season of creating chances.

Dean Smith has no injury worries ahead of the game, with the full squad available.

Meanwhile, Kieron Freeman comes back into the reckoning for Notts County. Freeman, on loan from city rivals Nottingham Forest, was ineligible for the Stevenage game on Saturday having already featured in the competition for the Forest in the previous round.
Julian Kelly made a timely return from a calf injury to replace Freeman at full-back at the Lamex Stadium. Martin Allen must decide whether to recall the Forest teenager or stick with Kelly.

it remains to be seen if Jonathan Forte will start following his substitution at half-time on Saturday. It remains to be seen whether Allen will recall ex Saddler Karl Hawley.

It seems that Lee Hughes will play, however, despite his being charged with sexual assault. He has still been a regular since the story broke in December and must be used to the stick he’s likely to get after everything that’s happened to him.

Predictions?

The Magpies are in mid table, reasonably well clear of the Saddlers, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Despite their reasonable away performance in the Cup at the weekend, they have lost 5 of their last 6 away in the League. While the Saddler’s home form isn’t that great, that should give the home side the edge and a very welcome three points.

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Carlisle 1-1 Walsall: draw specialists

Exile @ 12:14 am Tuesday 24 January 2012

The Saddlers scraped a point away at high-flying Carlisle at the weekend, against the expectations of many Saddlers, one Chelsea fan and probably most Carlisle fans, who assumed we’d be cannon fodder. Even oddschecker had Walsall as the longest odds draw in the division, in spite of our recent run of one point games. Jolly Johnny, UTS regular, was at the match and gives this report:

I was stood in the Carlisle crowd today with my mate (opposite side to away fans, rather than behind goal) and you should have heard what some of their fans were saying during the second half and when we’d scored our goal! Makes our fans look quite objective and content!

Anyway, first half we were wack. Started awfully and they hit the bar eafly doors and we looked all over the place, and scared of the ball. They then scored from what appeared a mistake at the back, butler I think, and I was fearing the worst. Most of the first half was Carlisle in control, our midfield being over run and not in the game and our back four all hoofing balls up to nicholls and macken to try and win headers against a 6’5 and 6’4 pair of centre halves. No contest. In fact, it was only @taundz out right who was winning a header. We weren’t creating, Paterson not really in the game and were lucky to go in at 1-0, with McGovern hitting the bar from a free kick just before the break.

Second half was a lot better and more determined and the subs, when they came, certainly helped. To be honest, I still didn’t think we looked like scoring – we weren’t doing anything through midfield and neither wide player was getting past a man of getting decent ball into the box. We sustained a lot of pressure, had some fortunate decisions foulwise from the ref, and then had a lucky escape when Zoko was clean through (I was in line from where I as and he wasn’t offside) but he lost balance trying to get round jimmy, who did well not to foul him, then fluffed his shot on goal. At 2-0 it would have been game over but we still had a sniff, I thought only from a dead ball to be honest. Bowerman came on and certainly improved movement up front. Jarvis for Peterlin was another change and we actually got the ball wide more. We had what I thought was a certain pen when Bowerman reacted to a shot in the area and it looked like his shirt was pulled nearly off is body but nothing given. Butler had a hearder cleared off the line and then Jimmy made a great save from Jordan Cook (memories!!). The last 15 mins we gave it a go to be fair, and got a pen, when simek fouled Butler from behind at the edge of the area – seen them given and seen them not given. Nicholls put it away, and then for the last 5 we actually tried to go for a win rather than just waste time in the corner.

All in all, a good point, given the way we improved second half. The same problems still persist though in terms of ball retention, creativity and some cutting edge. I thought Manny had a good game, Nicholls too, given the usual service etc, as well as Taundry who put a real shift in and made some great tackles tracking back to help tirelessly. Shame the creative edge of a wide player isn’t really there. Peterlin and Chambers struggled in the main and we really need a centre mid. A striker to play alongside Bowerman would be good for when Macken comes off would be useful, as Nicholls-Bowerman, and Jarvis-Bowerman is quite weak.

UTS!

Brentford 0-530 Walsall: Congrats to Jimmy Walker

Exile @ 10:03 am Sunday 15 January 2012

Walsall travelled to much-fancied Brentford this Saturday, and returned with an unfancied point! Again, our message board fans, supporters and commenters have pointed out that the problem we have is creativity. On the whole, the team isn’t that bad, but, please (club!) can we find that personality in the middle of the field that will galvanise the rest? Two weeks till the window closes, but doubt we’ll move right now. Not yet desperate enough.

UTS regular Addis was at the match, so here’s his take on the game and the day:

It was Jimmy’s day today, and rightly so (great to see the team wearing Wacka 530 T-shirts when warming up and to see JW chatting to the fans at the end) but it was Andy Butler’s 90 minutes. A superb defensive performance, throwing himself in the way of any player or shot that looked dangerous. Praise to Manny Smith too – they are an impressive pairing at the moment. In fact the whole back 4 look solid.
Good first half performance and we should have been ahead at the break. Brentford were pretty disappointing for a side who have been challenging for the play-offs, it must be said. But, and this is the story of our season, we created very little. Best chance fell to Macken just before h/t, a good save from their keeper (his first appearance of the season I think) but from 6 yards out he should have scored.
Bees came into it more after the break – after we had had a promising 10 minutes though – and had a spell of pressure which resulted in a succession of corners. That was the only time we looked a bit rocky but they didn’t capitalise and we finished the game pretty strongly. As has been noticed, Nicholls was played in down the left and rather snatched at his shot, which skimmed past the right hand post.
Before the game I’d have taken a draw, but we need to find a few wins and soon. I don’t think we are currently playing like a relegation side. Apart from the back four, Paterson looked sharp (and when he learns the art of distribution will be some player) and Taundry seems to have found an extra gear recently. Chambers didn’t contribute much in my opinion. I’d take a point at Carlisle too and in normal circumstances these away draws would be fine, but our inability to win at home is keeping us down with the strugglers.
A Brentford fan on the train thought I was a home fan. “That was a waste of 90 minutes” he said. I don’t think it was from our point of view, plenty of promising signs to take away. And as has been said, so fitting that Jimmy didn’t concede today.

Walsall vs AFC Bournemouth – Preview

Neil @ 1:46 pm Friday 06 January 2012

Excuses over. Forget the undefeated December and the recent reasonable away record, our home form is relegation form, pure and simple. Only the bottom four have picked up fewer points than we have on their home turf and it would only take one of them to start picking up a few home wins and we would be deep in the mire. The reason? Only two teams have scored fewer home goals than we have (although, to be fair, only two teams in the bottom half of the Division have conceded fewer). While the strikers have had the finger pinted at them, by fans and management, it would seem that our inablility to create chances is the major problem. That leaves tomorrow’s visit of Bournemouth a very important fixture.

Dean Smith will have Manny Smith back from suspension for the game. He missed Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Bury due to a one-match ban picked up for accumulating five bookings, but is likely to slot straight back into Dean Smith’s XI, with stand-in Lee Beevers reverting to full-back.

Fellow central defender Olly Lancashire continues to struggle with a hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the club’s previous four matches and is again set to watch from the stands.

Kevan Hurst returned to first-team action as a second-half substitute at Gigg Lane and the midfielder will again hope to be involved as he builds up his match fitness having recovered from a broken bone in his heel.

As for the Cherries, centre-back Steve Cook is set to make his first appearance as a fully-fledged Bournemouth player this weekend.

Cook signed on at Dean Court on a full-time basis this week, after spending a period on loan at the Dorset club towards the end of 2011 and the defender is likely to be given a start by manager Lee Bradbury.

However, Bradbury has a string of injuries to contend with when he selects his team. Defender Adam Barrett (hamstring) and midfielder Shaun MacDonald (dead leg) will have late fitness tests before the Cherries make the trip up the M5, while Mark Molesley (hamstring), Shaun Cooper (thigh), Charlie Sheringham (foot) and Nathan Byrne (ankle) are all out.

Mathieu Baudry will provide another defensive option for Bournemouth after returning from a hamstring injury but Joe Partington remains sidelined as he recovers from an ankle operation.

Predictions?

Bournemouth go into this game in tenth, looking to try and close the gap on the play off places. Away from home, they are quite formidable, as only Charlton and the Franchise are the only sides to have picked up more points on the road. Normally, I’d be happy with a point, but Dean Smith needs a win to calm the growing criticism.

Walsall 0-0 Rochdale: Game of two halves

Exile @ 11:42 pm Sunday 01 January 2012

After the heroics against the Wendies, a return to the apparent base form that’s plagued Walsall this season.

UTS regular Sadsfan was at the game and sums it up as follows:

Absolutely garbage today, and for me it was down to the manager. Far too long this season I have watched the back four pump long balls to the front men completely bypassing the midfield. Now, this is not just the fault of the defence as the midfield has all the movement of a photograph. Peterlin can play the short pass well but doesn’t find space to receive the ball off the back four and Chambers may as well not play as he always makes sure he is being marked so he does not have to have the ball. This is Smiths fault as he should have addressed this by now and made sure the team were playing the ball through the midfield using the Patterson as a creative outlet. To be over 20 games into the season and playing a style of football that is clearly not working leaves the blame at the door of the manager, its not Bonser that will make me a stayaway next season, but it will be the awful football played under Smith.

Fellow regular tinned also saw the game in a similar manner:

I thought for spells in the first half we passed it well and looked like a half decent side. Second half and another Smith master tactician talk and we’re mentally still in the dressing rooms. As soon as Macken was taken off we lost all ability to hold the ball up top.

It’s okay saying 4 points out of 6 was a good haul (it was) but after getting 3 on Monday we should be disappointed not to get all 6.

UTSer Welsh Saddler saw the following:

All in all, a disappointing game. Rochdale were obviously trying to impress their caretaker-manager by showing their ability to play proper football, and I thought they always looked the more likely side to score. We CAN play like that, but too often we CHOOSE not to. That’s down to Dean Smith.

Does Deano believe in his team?

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