Archive for August, 2012

Walsall vs Brentford (League) – Preview

Neil @ 12:15 pm Friday 31 August 2012

After a decent week for the Saddlers, with a very good away win at Notts County last Saturday in the League, followed by a defeat at Premiership QPR in the League Cup on Tuesday which somewhat flattered the team which contained eight full internationals, with another three on the bench, its back to the bread and butter stuff tomorrow of trying to improve a home record that has been, for a couple of seasons, just not good enough. It is, of course, also a quick return for the team beaten in the first round of the League Cup, seemingly only yesterday, Brentford.

Brentford is a place you really cant say too much about, being just another part of West London, with both good and bad bits, the good being very good, and the bad being very bad, as can be said for much of the capital. They do claim to have some very famous supporters, though, including Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz (there’s no way she’d turn up, is there?), Pete Townsend and Rick Wakeman. The Supporters’ Band looks like it would be a lot better than ours.

They have also had a couple of ex players gone on to better things, in the shape of Bradley Walsh and former BBC stalwart Billy Cotton, of band show fame. The story that Rod Stewart once played for them is, however, NOT true, as he now admits himself, although he may have had a trial there.

Its good news and bad for Dean Smith on the injury front, as both James Chambers and Richard Taundry are fit again. I suspect that one of them will take the injured Adam Chambers’ place in midfield, following his injury in the QPR game, and the other will be pressurising Purkiss for the right back slot.

Smith’s other selection dilemma (barring any miracle signings today) will be Bowerman or Grigg up front (or maybe both, if there is a change in formation).

Brentford will add Jake Bidwell and Tom Adeyemi to their squad for the trip.

Left-back Bidwell is back at Griffin Park for an initial one-month loan deal from Everton – the 19-year-old having spent six months with the Bees last season, making 25 appearances. Walsall’s own new left back, Andy Taylor, could have been lining up instead of Bidwell, as he had been on trial at Brentford.

Midfielder Adeyemi has joined on a five-month deal from Norwich and could make his debut, but he may have to start on the bench, however, as Uwe Rosler is unlikely to make too many changes after his side romped to a 5-1 win against Crewe last weekend.

Young midfielder Jake Reeves is available again following a three-match ban after he was sent off in the Capital One Cup game at Bescot.


This will be a good test of where we are, a Brentford have strengthened since the Cup game, but we should have the confidence after this week to sneak a home win.


Notts County 0-1 Walsall: Smash and grab!

Exile @ 9:22 pm Monday 27 August 2012

Great away result earning us our first three points of the season and propelling us up to the giddy heights of mid-table mediocrity at the expense of star-laden Notts County. OK, half their team were out injured, but that’s no excuse. Oh, and their ginger hero didn’t score. Maybe he’s past it.

At the match, nottmsaddler was on hand to provide the match report:

The comments using woeful, abysmal and pathetic are well wide of the mark. The first half was not great, but far from terrible. We were under the cosh a bit but they didn’t create many (maybe one) clear cut chances I can remember, and Grof had little in the way of saves.

We were the better team in the second, and the goal was coming because the longer it went the more comfortable we looked. Even in the last ten minutes they failed to create clear chances even though the ref did his best in injury time. Whereas with a couple of better timed runs, we could have had another goal or two.

All in all a massive improvement on the last two seasons here, and plenty of encouraging signs. Purkiss did struggle (I’d prefer Stewart and Chambers moving to RB personally) and Grigg didn’t do anything but that apart the others were good, a couple were superb and the support was first rate.

If the first half was “as bad as ever seen”and on the whole, we were pathetic and abysmal then the posters must have missed Oldham, Dagenham (cup), Notts County to name but three at the Banks’s last season. Because what I saw today was a hell of a lot better than that.

And I am not part of the UTS clique – I only posted this because I couldn’t believe some of the garbage and negativity on here. Fair play to the sarcastic responses – shame the recipients were too miserable to even get them!

Those interested in the sarcastic responses could do no better than to check out the thread on the message board. Registered Saddler had a great example that cleared a few peoples’ heads:

I find it unfathomable how Grof managed to keep a clean sheet. Presumably Notts County had no shots on target otherwise they would have been certain goals against our clueless and confidence-shot young goalkeeper.

What is more, Smith’s substitution and formation change midway through the half must have cost us any chance of a more comfortable victory, bearing in mind how he only ever makes changes that unsettle and disrupt the side.

Remember how we looked on enviously earlier in the pre-season at the fact the Notts County had made all those new signings? Their Hereford rejects were brilliant, their signings were made in June, their players had names we’d heard of; for all these reasons I knew that Notts County were a far superior club to Walsall in every way imaginable. This result has stunned me and I fully expect Walsall to return to their abhorrent worst by Tuesday night. Thanks a lot Smith, Gamble and Bonser. League Two here we come

Messageboard thread here!

Notts County vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 10:34 am Friday 24 August 2012

It’s off to Nottingham tomorrow, but it’s County, rather than Forest, so we aren’t guaranteed the three customary points. That means, of course, that many travelling fans will be visiting Hooters, presumably for the quality of the food on offer, rather than any other possible motive.

Nottingham is of course, closely associated with the Robin Hood story, but it seems they have more in common with the Sherriff of Nottingham, as they are charging £24.00 for away fans, no less, and, unlike Robin Hood, they aren’t giving the proceeds of this theft to the poor!

Nottingham has many famous sons and daughters, including the legend that is Bruce Dickinson, Richard Beckinsale, First World War ace Albert Ball VC and D H :Lawrence amongst many, many others. Unfortunately, they all pale into insignificance by the shame of also producing Sue Pollard and Dr Harold Shipman.

Dean Smith will be without the services of the injured Richard Taundry and Fabien Brandy, so his team selection dilemmas will revolve around the opposite ends of the pitch. It’s difficult to see 9 of the 11 from Tuesday night changing, so Will Grgg’s lack of goals may well see Bowerman into the side, while David Grof’s terrible fumble on Tuesday night, following a poor display on Saturday might see a recall for Jimmy Walker.

As for County, they will assess the fitness of Francois Zoko, after he limped off against Hartlepool United with a knee injury, Enoch Showunmi (knee) and Jamal Campbell-Ryce (calf). Zoko might be a big miss, should he not make it, having scored two in two for them.

Supposed Walsall target, striker Yoann Arquin is suspended and defenders, ex Saddler Manny Smith, and Tom Williams are both sidelined with injuries.

Unfortunately, Lee Hughes is likely to start.


Personally, I’ll be happy with anything from this one!

Match report – Oldham 1-1 Walsall: First goal, first point, first among equals

Exile @ 5:56 am Thursday 23 August 2012

No preview for this one. no disrespect to Oldham, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Instead, here’s a match report, a favour we didn’t do for Donny after they had the bad grace to blag their way to a 3-0 win at the weekend.

As ever, the most accurate (read: considered by the editor to reflect an acutalité that is more correct than any other) has been chosen. You can’t go past a good ‘bangsection’ review if he’s attended, and his stellar effort is as follows:

Draw was a fair result in the end. The fact that both teams only scored due to horrendous mistakes by the opposition says it all.


1. Think we’ve found one of the four teams we need to finish below us. Oldham were pretty desperate – consistently misplacing passes, overhitting crosses and wasting possession.

2. Bowerman took his goal exceptionally well.

3. Adam Chambers had another excellent game. And his brother wasn’t far behind.


1. We struggled to create chances all game. The two we created in the first half (both thanks to Grigg’s movement – the best part of his game) were wasted when he failed to force the keeper to make a save both times.

2. Our set pieces were poor – we only threatened when the Oldham goalkeeper started trying to throw the ball into his own net and resorted to huge punts to Butler at the far post.

3. Grof’s confidence looked shot after his mistake. The fact that Oldham failed to force him to make a save in the second half tells you everything you need to know about how poor they were.


Grof: Started well with a good save from a freekick but started to look wobbly as the half wore on and was badly at fault for the goal. Looked like he tried to palm the ball away but only succeeded in knocking it straight down and then looked like it bounced off his body and underneath him. Not tested second half.

Purkiss: Shaky to begin with – a few misplaced headers and passes but got better as the game went on and I thought he had a pretty decent second half.

Holden: Early booking can’t have helped but his lack of pace and athleticism compared to Manny worries me slightly. Too similar to Butler?

Butler: Reasonably good game but a horrendous Hollywood crossfield pass nearly cost a goal in the second half when it went straight to their player.

James Chambers: Pick of our back four. Solid in the tackle, good in the air and comfortable on the ball. Fact it’s his ‘wrong side’ didn’t seem an issue.

Adam Chambers: Box to box, excellent protection for the back four, some crucial interceptions. My MOTM.

Cuvelier: Disappointing. Couldn’t influence the game and seemed disappointed with his own performance at the end. Taken aside by ROK in the warmdown and given a pep talk and a hug.

Featherstone: Started well but faded and contributed little in the second half.

Paterson: Very disappointing. Consistently made the wrong decision and rarely beat his man.

Hemmings: Impressive. Good link up play with Grigg but you’d like him to be more direct at times. They were terrified of his pace but too often he stopped and played a square ball rather than driving on into the box.

Grigg: As mentioned above, makes intelligent runs but must make more of his opportunities in front of goal. Failed to win a header or hold the ball up effectively but that’s not his strength. Wingers never really got to the byline all night which didn’t help.

Subs: Bowerman: Excellent goal when played clean through by a horrendous Oldham backpass. Actually played quite well with his back to goal too which is encouraging.

Williams: Didn’t remember seeing much of him after he came on but that means he didn’t make any glaring mistakes either!

Important that we got something tonight – the longer we’d have gone without getting a point on the board the more it would have nagged at the players (and the fans). Still clear that we need a different option up front. Not a 6 foot 8 target man but someone like Macken with strength and the nouse to hold the ball up and bring others in to play.

Agree? Disagree? Talk about it on the message board!

Walsall vs Doncaster Rovers Preview

Neil @ 2:07 pm Friday 17 August 2012

I used to go to college with someone who owned up to being a Doncaster Rovers fan. We obviously felt something in common, what with being from an area where our (relatively) small club was constantly overshadowed by the bigger ones around it (the Sheffields, before their fall from grace, and Leeds, before they crashed and burned). Since then, we have both had periods of glory on the Championship, but the start of a new season sees the old adversaries back in the third tier.

Of course, Doncaster has good and bad going for it, as witnessed by the people who come from there. Our own Andy Butler, good, Tony Christie, disastrous. Douglas Bader, English hero, Brian Blessed, Thomas Crapper, inventor of you-know-what, and the lovely (well, in the sixties she was) Diana Rigg, all good and completely outweighed by Jeremy Bloody Clarkson.

Dean Smith will have a full strength squad to choose from, with no injury worries at all, after the encouraging League Cup win against Brentford last Saturday. It’s difficult to see what changes, if any he’ll make to the starting line up. Of course, if he should sign a left back in time to play, then Taundry back over to the right and the new man on the left would be the obvious move, but that is looking unlikely at the moment. The only other change he might think about would be starting with Brandy, in place of either Grigg or Paterson, but I think he’ll keep it the same.

As for Doncaster, they have no fresh injury worries.

Defender Paul Quinn is fit after suffering cramp in the League Cup tie against York City last weekend.

Rovers boss Dean Saunders will also welcome new signings James McCombe, Billy Paynter and James Harper to the squad. They will provide much needed reinforcements, as the club’s policy of bringing in high profile players to try and stave off relegation meant a huge turn over in the Summer. Their other ins and outs are:
Players in: David Syers (Bradford, free), David Cotterill (Barnsley, free), Robbie Blake (Bolton, free), Rob Jones (Sheffield Wednesday, free)
Players out: Sam Hird (Chesterfield, free), James Hayter (Yeovil, free), Adam Lockwood (Bury, free), El-Hadji Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda, Simon Gillett, John Oster, Fabien Robert, Giles Barnes, Oscar Radford and Habib Beye (all released), George Friend (Middlesbrough, undisclosed), James O’Connor (Derby, undisclosed), James Baxendale (Walsall, free)

Two sides, one with a reputation for playing football and one, on the strength of last week, looking to do the same thing, means that this could be a very good game. I think home advantage gives us the edge, so home win.

Dont forget, by the way, that members of the Supporters’ Trust will be around the ground, looking for renewals and new members, so bring a couple of quid extra!

Walsall 1-0 Brentford: Earnest Hemmings Way!

Exile @ 5:09 am Sunday 12 August 2012

Well, the season starts with a whimper, as just over 2000 watched Walsall overcome Brentford to get the second second round of a cup competition in a season having played just 90 minutes of competitive football.

First, a quick poll:

First compettiive game out of the way. How are the Saddlers looking?
  • Glass half full - I'm looking forward to this season! (54%, 171 Votes)
  • Meh, gimmee more time, I can't find my glasses! (35%, 111 Votes)
  • Glass half empty - we're doomed! (11%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 316

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On to the match. It sort of sneaked up on everyone, and all of a sudden the season has started! Woo hoo! WFC_Rob, UTS stalwart, was at the game and it’s his match report we chose to put up:

For the first time in about 10 years, I didn’t go to any of the pre-season games so I was intrigued as much as anything going into today’s game. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with the work Smith seems to have done over the summer – albeit early days.

Crucially, the formation was spot-on. Featherstone and Chambers protected the back four but also made themselves available for the ball an awful lot. Having the two of them alongside each other allowed Chambers to do the nitty-gritty that we know he can do well, whilst Featherstone’s distribution was generally excellent. They also freed up Cuvelier to get further forward, which allowed him to play Grigg in in the build-up to the goal. The only disappointment for me was our unnecessary switch to 4-4-2 in the second half, which didn’t seem to get the best of anyone.

As far as the back four goes, we looked a little shaky at times, but nothing to have nightmares about. A player so blatantly right footed shouldn’t play at left back, but hopefully Taundry was just keeping that spot warm for Jordan Stewart, who I have no doubt will link up with Hemmings really well down that left hand side. On the new boys, Holden was surprisingly strong, both in the air and playing the ball out from the back. Purkiss is a carbon copy of Lee Beevers to put things simply. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Expect Taundry to be first choice right back over the longer term though.

We also, for the first time in a good while, made a concerted and well-practised effort to keep the ball on the floor at all costs, which certainly helped the likes of Paterson. Despite the fact that people still seem unwilling to give Grigg credit, he was as effective today as I’ve seen him as a lone striker. Won nothing in the air thanks to being about a foot shorter than their centre halves, but kept the ball and made some really intelligent runs at times. Forced an exceptional tackle from their last man in the move that led to Hemmings’ goal and saw a good effort flash just past the post in the last few minutes. A true focal point up front still has to be a priority, but Grigg didn’t play badly by any means.

All in all, I’m just looking forward to seeing how this side develops as they play together more and more. It’d be naive to suggest that we should expect big things, but it also goes some way towards underlining how foolish some people have been in writing the team off before a ball was even kicked. There’s definite signs of promise in there

Talk about it more on the messageboards. Anyone can view, you need to register to comment, and you have to abuse us to get banned – it’s pretty simple! The match thread is this one here!

More Physiotherapy First at UpTheSaddlers

roger6 @ 6:35 pm Saturday 04 August 2012

UptheSaddlers is delighted to announce that Physiotherapy First have agreed to continue their sponsorship of this site for another season, in a deal through to end of June 2013.

Jonathan Hope, Director of Physiotherapy First Limited, said they were very pleased to continue backing UpTheSaddlers, extending a relationship that started 4 years ago.

Physiotheraphy First offers a wide range of treatments for a broad range of conditions, including arthritic complaints, back pain, whiplash, and sports injuries. So anybody reading UptheSaddlers who needs treatment, please support our sponsor!

This financial news, together with the addition of another two joint-owners who signed up this week, taking the site ownership up to 15 individuals and organisations, who continue to invest £10 a month for a share of ownership of the site, has guaranteed the site’s future for at least another season, as UTS enters its 16th year. Thanks as well for the number of private one-off donations that have come in via the message board.


Heskey to Walsall?

Exile @ 5:16 am Friday 03 August 2012

Rumours are rife in all the right places that Emile Heskey isn’t poised to sign a contract to play for Walsall this season!
It’s been on football rumours, it’s been heard on the UpTheSaddlers messageboards, at someone’s next door neighbour’s place, and in the MacDonalds restaurant in Aldridge, which doesn’t actually exist, so it must be true.

In defence of this rumour, Heskey is 34, which puts him at the lower end of the age bracket for Walsall signing a senior player. Emile is also currently a free agent, so there’s no chance of a transfer fee being paid, which Walsall never do.

It’s also fair to say his goalscoring record is patchy in recent years, and an aged, misfiring, free player would be the trifecta for our club!

Unfortunately he’s got roots in the area, his most recent club was just up the road and his missus was held at knifepoint by scousers so she probably hates being up North. All of which points to this rumour being just that.

Rumour has it Emile might be looking forward to his time at Walsall, and while the lack of chips at the stadium is a problem, a major factor in his possibly signing for the club could be the facilities at Walsall’s training ground. “The sprinklers work great now this drought’s over”, he didn’t say.

Seriously, do we need to sign a forward that has the presence to hold the ball up?
  • Yes, please, Deano! (87%, 242 Votes)
  • Haven't had one for the last two years, why bother now! (13%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 278

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