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!

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