Archive for April, 2012

We are staying up!

roger6 @ 8:45 pm Saturday 28 April 2012

Walsall fans across the world have hit the pubs tonight after a point against Huddersfield secured another season in league one.

WFC Rob sent this via the message board before getting stuck into the celebrations:

What a relief. First half was men against boys and frankly, we looked like relegation fodder in every way – we just didn’t get near them. 

At half time, I said I thought the one consolation was that they were only one goal up – that proved crucial in the end. 

We were the better side in the second half without question and just seemed to have more impetus, more drive and took a few more risks. We had the better chances to win the game from what I saw, although I spent much of the last 20 minutes checking the scores elsewhere on my phone! 

Massively glad it’s all over and we don’t have a week of running through all the possible permutations ahead of the MK Dons game. The pitch invasion annoys me every year without fail and whilst I was as relieved and pleased as anyone on the final whistle, annual pitch invasions celebrating a relegation escape are something I could quite happily live without.

Bring on the Dons, followed by a summer of undoubted disappointment in the transfer market. The future’s bright.  


Walsall vs Huddersfield Town Preview

Neil @ 12:34 pm Friday 27 April 2012

The Saddlers, in their usual way, seem hell bent on taking this season right down to the wire. Still, with two games to go, three points from those games will see us safe and, to be honest, even no points probably will, in view of the vastly superior goal difference. If some encouragement is neede, however, it must be that the last two games are both, virtually, “dead rubbers” for the opposition. The two teams concerned, Huddersfield at home tomrrow and the Franchise away next week, will meet each other in the play offs, with the order of the games the only issue left to be decided. That could well play to the Saddlers’ advantage, as, although the teams would like to go into the play offs with some momentum, the individual players wont want to pick up any injuries at this stage, with a possible Wembley appearance beckoning.

That seems to have left even the Bookies undecided about the game, with both sides favourites, depending on which firm you go to!

Dean Smith will be welcoming Lee Beevers back fro suspension, but will be without Manny Smith, following his ridiculous sending off last week. The right back position, along with that, the one centre half position, seem to be his only worries.

Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson seems to be suffering from some confusion, in that he seems to be suggesting that they will be resting players for the play offs and playing their strongest team, all at the sxame time! Reading between the lines, however, think their minds are already on the play offs:

With a two-legged Play-Off semi-final against MK Dons looming large, Simon (Grayson) revealed that he may give other personnel a chance to impress in the final two League games.

“It is a possibility, but we want to win the game and we will pick a team that we feel is capable of doing that. We won’t be throwing young kids into the game who have got very little experience, especially when we have got experienced players coming back from injury who need the game time. Whatever team we select for Saturday will be good enough to win the game.

“We have started our preparations ahead of the semi-final; we had MK Dons watched last week and will continue to do so over the next couple of matches, as they will be doing with us. Plenty of preparation will go into the games, but first and foremost we need to get victories against Walsall and Yeovil. We have got plans that we are working on in training and also in the games coming up to make sure that we are best prepared for when we take them on.”


I’m going for a draw – and that will prove to be enough.

Exeter 4 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 1:28 pm Sunday 22 April 2012

A bad result yesterday against a city with some of the worst parking restrictions in Britain. Sadly our defence was not so rigorous and capitulated second half.

Registered Saddler was at the game and offered these thoughts on the message board:

A lot of what Dean Smith said on the radio was correct. Manny Smith should never have been sent off – if anyone thought Beevers’ second booking last week was harsh, then this was ten times worse. The referee was over officious and couldn’t wait to send him off (Roger East is one of those perennially useless refs who is, like all refs, immune from the sack). I have no idea about the ‘over the line’ goal – it was at the other end and I couldn’t see it.

However, the reason we lost the game was Dean Smith. Does anyone want to tot up how many times we have been pegged back from winning positions this season? Does anyone want to count the number of times he has made a baffling substitution and we’ve conceded soon after? He had two in-game decisions to make: how to react to Smith’s first booking, and how to react to his second. The first was early on, we were up against a side that would play the ball into their strikers’ feet and we were looking comfortable at 1-0 and 2-1. More than that, we were dominating. Why not bring Lancashire on then? Leaving Smith out there, knowing that one more foul would see him off, was asking for trouble. Then when the inevitable happened, we went into freefall.

Tactic 1: 4-4-1, with Macken up front by himself, Nicholls on the left, Hurst on the bench and Ledesma moved to the right. Sort of. But really he just hung around up front. This left Taundry (who up to that point had been impeccable) horribly exposed and outnumbered, leading to the next two goals. — As an aside, if you want a man for a battle, don’t ask Ledesma to put his hand up. He missed two sitters of the sort that if Jarvis had committed them, then UTS would be left seething with rage and was generally lightweight and ineffective, bar the lovely set-up for the second goal. But apparently he’s some kind of genius

Tactic 2: 4-2-2-1, with Ledesma up front by himself, Westlake in at right-back, Nicholls back on the right wing, Taundry (!) on the left wing and Macken on the bench. Well, at least Smith realised that we needed to shore up our right-hand side. About 10 minutes too late though. I’m not sure Taundry will play as an attacking left-sided forward again.

Tactic 3: 4-1-2-2, with Grigg on up front for Taundry, supported by Cuvelier and Nicholls out wide, while Mantom is basically our only midfielder. At this point, no one knew what the blazes was going on and Exeter were running riot. They scored three after Smith was sent off but it could have been 7 or 8.

Of course, we knew that Exeter needed to win the game so were going to throw the kitchen sink at us. But 2-1 up away from home with 25 minutes left is not a hopeless situation. It is if you leave so many attacking players on the pitch and surrender. Credit to Cuvelier, who at least tried to show some fight when we went behind, even if his eagerness was misplaced in holding on to the ball for too long most of the time. The rest of them just hid.

I’m not in the Smith out camp per se, but he sure does need an experienced head alongside him to tell him what to do during the game. If not, he will go on making incorrect calls that end up costing us points like today. His interfering not only failed to solve the problems of Smith’s dismissal, they actively hindered us. I’m hopeful that the other results will go our way and we’ll stop up, but something needs to change before next season…Smith just is not learning the ropes. Three away wins in his tenure is evidence enough.
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Exeter City vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 12:35 pm Friday 20 April 2012

I dont know about anyone else, but I’m fed up with all this leaving it up until the last minute stuff. Almost throwing the Championship away then beating Hartlepool to the line on the last day and the “great escape” last season were more than enough for me to be getting on with. That’s why a win last week would have relieved some of the pressure we are all feeling. Still, we do have another chance tomorrow.

First, the certainty. Defeat for Exeter tomorrow means that they are relegated, pure and simple.

Next, the possibilities. Wycombe are away at League leaders Charlton. A defeat for them there and a win for the Saddlers and they would be six points behind us with two to play and a vastly poorer goal difference. It would need a fifteen goal swing to keep them up. Chesterfield are at home to Rochdale and should win – but a win for the Saddlers and they would be unable to catch us, being seven points behind with two to play. There seems to be a message here – win and we will be safe.

Dean Smith will be without the suspended Lee Beevers – and he will be missed, if only for the extra height he gives us at the back. Richard Taundry is fit again and should replace him, as he has certainly moved ahead of Westlake in the pecking order, as the youngster’s defending just hasn’t improved.

There may be a temptation to play Adam Chambers in place of Nicholls, to give the midfield a little more solidity, as there is flair to spare going forward and Anton Peterlin is fit again, but likely to only make the bench.

Will Grigg, back from an injury spell, will be looking to play some part, having scored four for the reserves in the week.

Exeter have been boosted in their, quite frankly, unlikely pursuit of League One survival by the return from injury of Scot Bennett and Jonathan Fortune (on loan from Charlton).

The two defenders have been suffering from hamstring problems of late but will be available to Grecians manager Paul Tisdale on Saturday.

The Devon club have, however, lost striker Lauri Dalla Valle, who has returned to parent club Fulham at the end of his loan spell.

Danny Coles (fractured spine) and Richard Duffy (groin) are also set to miss out for Exeter as they continue to make their way back to full fitness


None. Win required

Walsall 0 Tranmere 1

roger6 @ 9:11 pm Monday 16 April 2012

The Saddlers were undone by Tranmere at the weekend but results elsewhere kept us clear of trouble for the moment. Geoff Whiting was there and gave his reaction via the message board:

This was my first match of the season, and I left the stadium feeling really angry that we’d been done by rough tactics, a weak Referee, and a terribly unlucky deflection (AGAIN) for the goal, from a free-kick that should never have arisen if the Ref had spotted what happened before the foul that Butler committed on their guy. Having said all that, our own shortcomings in front of goal also played a massive part in us failing to take at least one or two of many chances that came our way, so in some ways we had only ourselves to blame for losing a game that we should have won quite easily against a poor side.

Having seen Nicholls for the first time in ages, I have to share the views of some who slate him. Numerous times yesterday he had the chance to get crosses in, but almost every time, he buggered about for so long that he allowed a defender to close him down, such that few if any of his crosses managed to get past the outstretched boot of an opponent. I’ve seen him once this season and he drove me nuts, and on that evidence he appears not to have improved noticeably in several years, so God only knows how others amongst you can stand to watch him week in week out – get rid of him, Smith, he’s a complete liability!

Grof looked a bit uncertain and hesitant at times, which worried me, but he made a fantastic save in the closing moments that would otherwise have seen Tranmere record a 2-0 victory, which would have been even more ridiculous and undeserved than the deeply fortuunate 1-0 win that they took away on the day.

Thank God that Oldham put away that last-minute penalty at Wycombe to maintain (for us) a 3 points plus massive goal-difference advantage over the Chairboys. That Oldham goal may well be, for us, the bit of fortune that keeps us up.

Walsall vs Tranmere Rovers Preview

Neil @ 9:35 am Friday 13 April 2012

A proper third tier game tomorrow against what is, despite them flirting with success a few years ago, a proper third tier football club, in the shape of Tranmere Rovers.

Tranmere were hovering far too close to the drop zone a while ago, but, since changing managers and bringing back Ronnie Moore, they have had a run of success which has seen them reach mid table mediocrity – a position which most Saddlers dream of over the last few seasons!
However, with Walsall now four points clear of the drop zone with four games to go and Orient, the team immediately below them, away at Sheffield United, a win tomorrow would go a long way towards guaranteeing 1st Division football next season. Just as helpful is the fact that the other fixture most closely effecting the Saddlers’ position tomorrow is Wycombe (four points behind), versus Oldham (two points ahead). A home win at the Banks’s tommorrow and any result in that fixture will be of benefit. Lastly, of the two teams three points ahead, Bury have a home game against a Bournemouth side improving since the sacking of Lee Bradbury and Preston a tough fixture against Huddersfield at Deepdale. There could be a lot of teams feeling very, very nervous come 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon – but only if we win.

Dean Smith should have a fully fit squad, other than a doubt over Richard Taundry. Certainly the “holy trinity” responsible mainly for our upturn in fortunes, Cuvelier, Manton and the “Black Country Messi”, Ledesma, are all fit and ready.

Tranmere’s recent injury problems are also behind them and Ronnie Moore has the biggest squad available to him since his return to the club.

Mark McChrystal and Martin Devaney both played for the reserves on Wednesday evening to mark their comebacks from injury while Adam McGurk got another game under his belt. The only player absent from the squad is the fantastically named Max Power who is out with a hamstring injury. Max Power is, of course, the name chosen by Homer Simpson when his name was given to a dumb character in a tv programme. Unfortunately, he was unable to get Marge to change her name to Chesty La Rue, Busty St. Claire or Hooty McBoob. I wonder if Max is married?


Tranmere have won five of the last ten, to see them in what should be a safe mid table position. They have, however, lost two of the last three, so you do tend to wonder if the players have got the deck chairs out. One of those was against high flying Franchise, to be fair, but the other was at struggling Bury. On the other side, we have only lost two in the last ten and might well be clear of the bottom by now if not for too many draws. Personally, I fancy us to get the job done tomorrow.

Charlton Athletic vs Walsall Report

Neil @ 10:12 pm Monday 09 April 2012

Milo5 with the report:

Just back.

Entertaining game and a really good performance .

There was nothing in it between the two teams. If anything, in open play we were more creative and always looked as if we had a goal in us. But the clue in the final scoreline would suggest that we didn’t.

The goal that separated us was at the other end …difficult to work out what went wrong , but would be guessing Grof . Not being wise after the event , but have said for a few weeks that I wouldn’t mind the reassuring presence of james walker esq for the pressurised run in.

Such a pleasure to see our midfield have such energy and verve , a million miles from earlier in the season. We always looked to have pace today , Nicholls, Flo , Ledesma and later Patterson all worried them. The only weak spot from that point of view was Hurst , who had a quiet game.

People talk about Macken being able to hold the ball up, but I thought Ledesma did that job 100 times better …the ball stuck to him like glue , no matter how awkward. The bloke is pure class, so far better than the rest of the team it’s not even funny.
Whereas Macken normally looks like a 40 year old who was a decent player once, today he looked about 50 . He was played in once in the first half , looked like a 50/50 between him and the keeper who would get there first …..Macken had given up half way there .

Defensively , no arguments at all, all 4 very solid ( as was Grof to be fair barring the goal) . Butler and Smith excellent ….Butler always in the right place at the right time , and Smith a class act too….loved his tricky run down the right wing too!

Midfield v good , always playing to feet, always available and full of running . Hurst a disappointment .

Ledesma though …. W h a t A P l a y e r . I think I might be a little bit in love.

Proud day to be a saddler , as we gave the top of the table a VERY uncomfortable afternoon. Knowing Wycombe were well behind also softened the blow massively …. Glad that Exeter beat orient , but trying to have my cake and eat it , I would rather they were already down when we go there , which isnt a given now.

Nearly 300 Saddlers In good voice at times and keep laying like this and NO reason why we can’t get a point or two out of the tough last two games

Walsall 3 Chesterfield 2; another step forward

roger6 @ 4:44 am Sunday 08 April 2012

The Saddlers took a big step forward yesterday at Bescot with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over basement boys Chesterfield.

Lots of reaction on the including this from WFC_Rob:

Massive win against a side absolutely desperate to win. You could tell at the final whistle that they realised it’s now curtains for them and we had to really grind things out as they threw everything at us – not the sort of match we usually find ourselves playing in.

Ledesma will steal all the plaudits again, but my man of the match was actually Mantom – I thought he looked really classy in the middle of the park, winning tackles, spreading the ball around, and capped things off with the winning goal. It’s no wonder Ledesma is able to hurt teams with the likes of Mantom and Cuvelier around him.

We weren’t the best at the back today, but with them playing two strikers up against Butler and Smith, our problems came as we didn’t follow runners from wide positions. All too often, they got two on one against either Sadler or Beevers and got a cross in as a result. Nicholls and Hurst need to be a bit more switched on defensively, although I would credit Chesterfield with playing well in those areas – most of the chances they created were well-worked.

After the Colchester game I thought Smith had finally proven himself as a tactically astute manager, but today he showed he’s still far from getting there. Why on Earth would you take your one striker off and replace him with a winger? We essentially surrendered at 3-2 up and had to endure 20 minutes of constant pressure as a result of playing what looked like a 4-6-0 formation. Anyone with a bit of common sense would have replaced Macken with Bowerman and looked to keep the pressure on their number 5, who was pretty awful. But hey, what do I know – we won the game after all.

In terms of players who caught the eye, I thought Nicholls looked threatening until he moved up front, Mantom looked a class act, Cuvelier’s worked tirelessly and provided one, possibly two assists and Smith’s last-ditch defending saved at least one certain goal.

We probably won’t play anyone quite as desperate for the points as they were today, which is probably a good thing. If everyone stays fit, I’m confident that we’ll scrape ourselves to safety.

Charlton match – lift wanted

Exile @ 9:16 pm Wednesday 04 April 2012

If anyone is heading to Charlton and has a couple of seats spare, could they please get in touch with UTS regular, Blazing Saddler, via the messageboard:

Send him a Private Message or log in and reply in the cadge a lift forum.

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