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