Archive for February, 2012

Preston North End vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 12:52 pm Friday 24 February 2012

Well, what a difference seven days makes. To be honest, though, it should be what a difference seven days and a bit of youth international class on loan makes! Florent Cuvelier announced his arrival on loan within five minutes of his debut as a substitute by producing the pass of the season with his left foot inside and around the opposition right back, into the path of Barrowman and hasn’t really looked back since. That might have been a great devfensive performance last Tuesday night, but it is the attacking knowhow and ability to produce something different from the Stoke City player that is providing the springboard for an atempt to get clear of the danger zone. The return of Hurst has also shown how much he was missed when he was out injured.

Dean Smith has a clean bill of health, apart form Daryl Westlake, but it is unlikely that he’ll make any changes to the team for the trip to Preston tomorrow, even though Manny Smith will be desperate to get back in the eleven. Taundry has benefitted from a move to right back – another problem position this season – and Grof may well have done enough at Scunthorpe to keep the legend that is Jimmy Walker out of the side.

(Relatively) new Preston Manager Graham Westley has a few more problems, with with Jamie Procter, Craig Morgan, David Gray, Steven Smith and Neil Mellor all likely to be missing. However, midfielder Paul Coutts is back in contention after sitting out the last month, Danny Mayor will be looking for a repeat of his match-winning goal versus Hartlepool having missed out on the trip to Bramall Lane whilst star man Iain Hume is set to return to the 16.

Predictions?

There seems to be a little discontent with the new Manager at the moment, with some criticism of his defensive approach to games, a 4 5 1 being his preferred formation so far. That leaves North End with a home record in the last six of won 2, drawn 2, lost 2. The Saddlers have won 1, drawn 3 and lost 2 of their last six away games. If you take the last six games, home and away, it’s Walsall that have the better record, with the Saddlers having won 2, drawn 2 and lost and Preston having won 2, drawn 1 and lost 3. All that, to me, means a close run thing and a draw the most likely outcome.

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Walsall vs Wycombe Wanderers Preview

Neil @ 1:25 pm Friday 17 February 2012

Funny place Wycombe. It’s one of those towns no one ever seems to go to (unless for the football or the RAF headquarters at the nearby air force base), but just tear past on the way to London down the M40. Tomorrow, however, the team become the yardstick for the Saddler’s season. They lie just one place above us in the table, have won three and lost seven of their last ten games and, quite frankly, if we fail to beat them, then the game, for this season, is well and truely up.

A defeat might also see the end for Manager Dean Smith, who has been cut a lot of slack by fans, but their patience seems to be wearing very thin. How much Smith is to blame and how much it is the financial situation (or a mixture of both) is debatable, but we all know that the Manager is, in the end, the only one who willl take the rap.

Walker and Macken are the major concerns. Both have returned to training folowing their injuries and their involvement will depend on their reaction to that return. Daryl Westlake is the other absentee, having suffered some ankle ligament damage in training.

Smith doesn’t seem to be brimming with confidence ahead of the game, telling the official site:

“It won’t be easy, results throughout this League show that. I’ve been able to watch Wycombe a couple of times myself in recent weeks and we also had them watched on Tuesday evening. They are a hard-working team who look to play good football whenever they can. I watched them have a good victory over Tranmere and then they defended well for an hour at Sheffield United. They also have goals in the team, particularly from Stuart Beavon.
We spoke to the players on Wednesday about the need for them to take responsibility and ask more of each other during games. It was good to sit down and discuss things and hopefully we will start to reap the benefits on Saturday”.

On the other hand, Gary Waddock has certainly put the pressure on his players:

“It couldn’t be any bigger, away at Walsall, a team in and around us – it couldn’t be any bigger. It’s a must-win game. We’re away from home, the pressure will be on Walsall hopefully.”

In one fell swoop, of course, he has heaped the pressure on his owsn players. Let’s hope they react badly.

Predictions?

Our current form is dismal, at home in particular, but Wycombe’s away form is just as bad. That leads me to go for a narrow home win – especially if Cuvelier can produce some moments of class to match that goal on Tuesday night.

Oldham 2-1 Walsall: off the pace

Exile @ 12:36 am Wednesday 15 February 2012

First a quick poll:


Should Smith be sacked?
  • Yes (67%, 240 Votes)
  • No (33%, 118 Votes)

Total Voters: 358

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Executive summary: Rubbish. Another game, another loss. Where’s the next win coming from? No idea, me, but probably in preseason 2013 provided we can get a fixture against East Anglia’s Sixfingers team Over-90s third XI. At home. And tie their legs together. After putting bromide in their tea.

UTS regular Jolly Johnny was at the game and provides tonight’s update from the ground, and he’s been remarkably restrained compared to some posters!

That was a bitterly disappointing night, for a number of reasons but mainly, how poor we were, the lack of spark anywhere on the pitch for the majority of the time, and the fact that we had a chance to grab something we simply didn’t deserve, and when it really mattered, completely bottled it. Sums us up really.

First half started really poorly (sound familiar?!?) Jarvis and Nicholls up front in a 442 initially. Oldham were straight at us and we just didn’t look awake, organised or ready. Pace and guile down the wings did Beevers and we afforded them loads of time to get a ball into the box and a player tucked it in from 12 yards with hardly any pressure. We were looking dodgy at the back under attack, but then had a chance ourselves, on 7 minutes, getting to the edge of the box, pulled back and Cuverlier’s shot came back off the inside of the post, unlucky.

But that was it for us first half. Couldn’t move, link up, pass more than 2 passes at a time before the ball was given back to Oldham to run at our defence and scare them. A second goal came with us standing off again. Triangle played out wide, ball swung into the box and simpson had all the time to chest down and smash in on the volley. Poor defending again. Too many players were miles off the game – Patterson, Jarvis, Chambers, Butler. Even Cuverlier was a little anonymous.

After 20 mins we went 451 with jarvis out right and nicholls up top alone. We just lack quality and nous of what to do with the ball and how to hurt a team. 2 examples spring to mind in the 1st half. We attack and Chambers picks up the ball outside their area and turns. He has a simple ball out right to keep it going, but dithers, doesn’t know what to do, coupled with no movement, so it comes back to the keeper. On another occasion, a ball is played out to Cuverlier wdie right. He brings it down and plays it inside to someone who has no idea what to do so it ends up…? You’ve guessed it – going backwards and ending up at the keeper.

Second half we started better with some enthusiasm, pace and moving the ball quicker (again, sound familiar?!?) This lasted all of about 5 mins before we ran out of puff and Oldham started to suss us out. The following 25 mins followed with them in control and us not looking threatening, or likely to create a chance. To be fair to Nicholls, he looked more lively and was making more runs to pick up balls. The only problem was, he’d pick them up wide of the penalty area, look up, and have no options to pass to! Best outcome was a corner off a defenders legs.

On 75 mins, a nice break from Cuverlier down the right lead to a goal! Looked like he should play it across the box, the keeper thought so too, so got done at his near post. probably sgould have done better. Rather than us carry on the pressure, we flopped again. Until the 4th minute of injury time. Grigg (oh yeah, he came on at some point!) chased a ball into the area and under challenge got a penalty. Unfortunately Nicholls took it (surely Cuverlier was a better choice?!) and telegraphed where he was going to place it, as well as hit it appalingly. A massive opportunity and a massive let down.

To be honest though we deserved nothing from the game. Oldham were better in all departments really and would have been mortified not to get the 3 points.

Tonight summed up where we are as a team – simply not good enough, even to compete against the likes of Oldham. That is why we are heading down.

You can talk about it on the messageboards, providing you’re registered and not hawking Ugg boots, of course. See this link:

post your thoughts, opinions and FACTS

Frosted Off!

Neil @ 1:43 pm Friday 10 February 2012

Walsall fans have had a narrow escape this weekend, but it now seems that their suffering will be postponed, as the game tomorrow is off!

Scunthorpe United vs Walsall – Preview

Neil @ 1:05 pm Friday 03 February 2012

With the weather forecast for Scunthorpe being minus 2 overnight and the prospect of the temperature not rising above zero until noon in North Lincolnshire, the pitch inspection tomorrow morning looks like a sensible precaution. At least there is no snow forecast, but, typically, it may well be arriving before 6.00, just in time to catch travelling fans on their way home.

Walsall and Dean Smith especially will be desperate for a result tomorrow should the game go ahead. Granted the only real difference between the Saddlers and Notts County was a moment of sheer class from one striker (hate him or not, he is still a class act at this level), but, until the arrival of Cuvelier on the pitch, we looked as if we could have played all night without threatening the opposition goal. The Stoke youngster did, however, certainly look like he can pick a pass and, when after five minutes, he hit the ball with the outside of his foot to curl it round and behind the right back to put Bowerman in, he probably produced the pass of the season so far.

The Saddlers will be without both Macken and Walker, who picked up hamstring strains on Tuesday. The prognosis is good, but that is still likely to mean two weeks out between them. Grof will come in for Walker, of course, but there is a choice up front with Bowerman, Jarvis and, possibly, Grigg able to step in. Cuvelier in the “hole” , playing of a loan striker is another possiblity, of course.

Given the complete lack of any danger from the flanks on Tuesday,especially the left, I’d look to bring back Hurst for the ineffective Paterson as well – for some reason, he seems to be going through a patch where every decision he makes is the wrong one and, thus, is continually loosing the ball.

As for the opposition, Scunthorpe striker Jordan Robertson is a major doubt and could be out of action for up to two weeks. He picked up a hip injury against Colchester United and missed the subsequent game against Stevenage, but though he played against Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday, has yet to fully recover and has not trained this week. The striking situation has been eased however, by the arrival of Jon Parkin on loan from Cardiff City, so, if the pitch is bumpy, it should get smo0thed out by his immense weight!

Midfielder Damien Mozika’s return could be put on hold due to another injury. He’s been missing since October.

Predictions?

These two teams have, incredibly, drawn 26 games between them this season – 13 each. It’s difficult to see a diffrerent result this time around.

Walsall 0-1 Notts County: Dismal, abysmal and gotfercal

Exile @ 4:17 am Wednesday 01 February 2012

Walsall capitulated to a distinctly average Notts County side tonight. The manner of the defeat was staggering to the faithful who braved a blisteringly cold night at the Bezla.

before the summary and report, here’s a quick poll, and we welcome your vote:


Will Walsall survive the season?
  • No, we're basement-bound! (83%, 280 Votes)
  • Yes, League One beckons! (17%, 57 Votes)

Total Voters: 337

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Here’s a report from the match, courtesy of UTS regular philthesaddler. Ordinarily he’s noted for his opinions which sway more to the negative than positive, but his report has been backed up by pretty much everyone else in the ground, and deserves the front page:

Possibly one of the worst performances by one of the worst Walsall XI’s i’ve ever seen.

I cannot tell you how bad our midfield was tonight, it was shocking, shocking, shocking. We didnt press, we didnt close, we didnt tackle, we gave them time, we gave them space – we were so off the pace, it was laughable. If County had got a decent striker on the pitch and not an ageing, balding, slow [libellous - alleged only] , they’d have beaten us by more than one.

We did rally a bit in the 2nd half, but dont recall their keeper having the make one save. In fact, Smith and Butler were more of a scoring threat than any of our forward players.

Peterlin, Taundry, Chambers and Beevers all had woeful, woeful games.

At no point during the game did we have a full-time/senior winger on the pitch – and we only had a senior striker on the pitch for half an hour, and his legs have gone.

The squad is dreadfully paper thin, and the players we have got are slow, small and weak.

We need 4 players at least to keep this shower of sh!te in this division for another year.

Talk about it on the boards on this bad match thread

Questions need answering. I don’t think fans expect too much from the club, but how about some communication to manage expectations? If we’ve got no money for anyone, tell us, rather than say nothing for the whole transfer window. If players turn us down, tell us why. Above all, can the club please ask Dean Smith to read all the match threads on this message board, as he may then realise the glaring errors he’s repeating, and repeating, and repeating. Here’s some tips:

1 – the defence ain’t that bad defending
2 – er…
3 – that’s it

Just two league wins since the end of August is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It’s a measure of how godawful this division is that we’re not bottom with form like that, with the least number of wins of any team in the division. On a monetary basis as well as from a fans perspective, survival is surely a better prospect than a decade in the basement? Sort it out, Bonser. Quick.

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