Archive for September, 2012

Bournemouth 1 Walsall 2

roger6 @ 7:49 pm Sunday 30 September 2012

It is pretty good at the moment being a Saddler. Three more points yesterday in what was by all accounts a convincing win even if the scoreline looked close. More great football, maintaining our high league position.

Welsh Saddler was at the game and has posted one of the most comprehensive match reports ever seen on the message board

Well, where do I start? Having heard so much about our attractive style of play I obtained a 12-hour pass to go to Bournemouth, and how glad I am that I did!!! In 50+ years of watching Walsall I can honestly say that I’ve NEVER seen a Walsall side play with such confidence, such accuracy and ability as this lot. Plus, they actually seem to be enjoying themselves at the same time. Comparing it with the dark days of Merson, Barnwell, Hibbitt and even back to Johnny Love – it really is chalk and cheese.

I did make copious notes at the game but I won’t bore you with all of them – perhaps a few tasters will do:

We kicked off, and within 8 seconds Will Grigg was off-side… attacking intentions were there already. For the first 15 minutes or so it was even stevens – Bournemouth were certainly no mugs, playing the occasional bit of pretty football but tending to find it all breaking down as they got near our penalty area. Both Baxendale and Grigg showed much enthusiasm for tracking back to regain possession, often successfully.

We had a corner on 16 minutes taken by Paterson, and Andy Butler headed wide. We were quite happy and willing to let fly from distance, wanting to test Bournemouth’s newly-signed keeper David James.

I noted on 23 minutes that the game had 0-0 written all over it………

When we did play the long ball up to Will Grigg or Bowerman it was not very productive – Bournemouth had their equivalent of Butler and Holden, a couple of giants. Much as Grigg tried his best, he wasn’t going to get the better of them in the air. As the game wore on he developed his approach, using his skill on the ground.

We were playing the better, more skilful football, much more accurate in our passing than Bournemouth.

After 40 minutes a cross from our right wing was partially cleared, immediately re-crossed, and Andy Butler was the first of two waiting Walsall players to get his head to it. A close range headed goal, and David James absolutely nowhere.

Second half Bournemouth redoubled their efforts, and brought a fine full length save from Darlow, who really hadn’t had much to do until that point. We had a break away with Grigg chasing a ball, a Bournemouth defender either side of him and he was definitely sandwiched, but nothing was given.

Grigg’s work-rate nearly paid handsome dividends when David James elected not to kick clear but dribble out of his area…Grigg actually got the tackle in, the ball squirted towards the corner flag and the cross came to nothing. It was certainly a wake-up call for James though!!

We had a lovely purple patch after Bournemouth ran out of steam in the second half – in their half of the pitch about five of our players were stroking the ball around just like a training session. Real men against boys stuff, with Bournemouth totally unable to get possession. Every Walsall touch was greeted with a cheer, and there must have been 15 or more passing movements in that one phase – it was a joy to watch, as was so much of our play.

From an outswinging corner Taylor (I think) tried his luck with a volley that would have severely tested the netting had it been more accurate. Cuvelier had a long-range effort shortly afterwards.

One Bournemouth attack that provoked a crowd response was answered by the Walsall chorus of “We forgot that you were ‘ere”

Baxendale was replaced by Taundry on 75 minutes, and on 81 minutes we seemed to be absent at right back, allowing them to equalise from a through ball. At that point I would have been reasonably happy with the draw, but the players thought very differently – a Walsall corner in the 89th minute saw a low inswinging delivery which George Bowerman appeared to side-foot from close range past David James.

Bournemouth huffed and puffed, and did shave our post in the 90th minute. Even after that they forced a fine close range save by Darlow from quite a powerful shot.

I won’t award individual marks, I’ve bored you enough already, but I would make a couple of observations……

Why, oh why, do certain professional football defenders have the notion that holding their arms up aloft will persuade the officials that the opposition attacker is offside? All it does is waste time, allowing the opponent to make further progress. Both Andy Butler and Andy Taylor were guilty of this (several times) – surely it’s basic sense to “play the whistle”

Another little gripe…when we have a free-kick way out near the touchline, it’s usually the case that the ball will be delivered to the waiting multitude on the edge of the area – so why do we need two players standing over the ball? That’s a waste of one player who could be more useful up front.

The playing surface by the way was very satisfactory, as it should be at this time of the year – but prior to kick off, and all through half-time, huge sprinklers were used to water all areas of the pitch. This led to several players slipping and sliding and generally falling over at the slightest challenge.

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AFC Bournemouth vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 3:08 pm Friday 28 September 2012

Last week saw some of the best football I have seen from a Walsall team in many a long year. It wasn’t just the victory against Preston, but the manner of it that was so pleasing, with a team seemingly committed to a passing game and keeping the ball on the ground. That great team performance, coupled with a lot of individual flair, is what will bring the crowds flocking back to the Banks’s. Of course, we now need to carry it on.

Tomorrow, therefore, sees an away trip to another of the teams making major changes in the close season in our Division, Bournemouth. In their case, however, it isn’t working so well, with no wins at home, having drawn all for there so far.

As you know, I do like to do a little research on the opponent’s home town, but there isn’t much to go on with Bournemouth. It was once voted the happiest town in Britain, which suggests that not many of them are football fans considering the club’s troubles over recent years! As for famous sons and daughters, there is boxer Freddie Mills and “Jerusalem” composer Hubert Parry, but most of the rest were born elsewhere and moved there later, such as the late, great Tony Hancock (a Brummie), J R R Tolkien (born in South Africa and an adopted Brummie), Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson and actor Stewart Grainger.

Dean Smith’s major decision will be whether to go with a 4 4 2, which proved so successful last week, or the 4 5 1 that he has used away until now. If the latter, Hemmings is likely to replace Grigg as the only change. He does have a fully fit squad to choose from, other than the Chambers twins, following Brandy’s early return to the squad for the PNE game.

As for the Cherries, Lorenzo Davids and Frank Demouge should return to action to ease their injury problems. Already under pressure Manager Paul Groves is contending with a plethora of injuries, but midfielder Davids, cousin of Champions League winner Edgar, has recovered from an ankle injury while striker Demouge is back after his knee ailment.

After losing goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan for six months to a shoulder tear, Groves has scoured the market for an experienced stopper to complement Shwan Jalal and youngster Benjamin Buchel. The answer could be former England keeper David James, who was training with the club on Thursday morning. Must have more money than sense!

Defender Simon Francis is definitely out after injuring his knee, but the club revealed he will not need surgery, as first feared, which means he is likely to be out for six weeks. Francis joins a list of absentees which includes Charlie Sheringham (foot), Stephen Purches (broken leg), Lee Barnard (knee) and Richard Hughes (foot).

Predictions?

Keep the football flowing and I think we have enough to come away from the South coast with a draw as a minimum.

Reflections on the Preston triumph

roger6 @ 9:54 pm Tuesday 25 September 2012

Walsall’s 3-1 win over Preston at the weekend has left Saddlers possibly feeling the most positive for many years.

Lots of match reaction on the message board including this from Codsall Saddler:

An utter and absolute joy to watch, especially as it was against a Wesley team. Why was he up against our guys in the technical area? Whitters should have whacked him. Minor whinge about the marking for the goal but decided we gave them that to make a game of it. Must be one of the easiest debuts for a keeper in Walsall history – did he have a shot to save in the second half? Some top class performances from everyone, but mentions to players that are coming good such as Purkiss and Holden. Baxendale was just awesome and others weren’t far behind. Featherstone was excellent also, picking up play and always finding a red shirt.

Stevenage vs Walsall Preview

bangsection @ 11:11 am Tuesday 18 September 2012

You’d have got long odds at the start of the season on predicting the teams that currently occupy the top six places in League One. In fact, if you’d had a tenner on you could probably make Jeff a decent offer for the freehold. And still have money left over for half a dozen state-of-the-art chip fryers to lure the stayaways back.

Tonight we take on one of the other surprise packages this season: Stevenage. “Surprise package” might be a little harsh actually – they made the playoff semi-final last season and were unlucky to lose to Sheffield United by the odd goal over two legs. They had a bit of a wobble when the appalling Graham Westley left for Preston and was replaced by former Colorado Rapids boss Gary Smith, but Smith is, apparently, trying to move the team’s playing style away from the win at all costs punching biting kicking hoofing diving-brand of play pioneered by his predecessor – a man who again proved on Saturday that he is not so much a Lady Garden as a Lady Amazonian Rainforest.

Mind you, Stevenage started Saturday’s game against Crewe with the 6ft1 Patrick Agyemang partnering the 6ft3 Marcus Haber in attack so maybe it’s small steps as they attempt to emulate our own effortless passing style. Nevertheless, the almost painfully unfashionable home counties side remain unbeaten in the league this season although all their wins have come away from the Exlax Stadium – they’ve drawn all three at home but did beat AFC Wimbledon in the League Cup.

Their danger men will include ex-Arsenal wide man Luke Freeman and ex-Saddlers loanee Robin Shroot who has become something of a supersub this season – scoring four goals despite only starting two games and having been substituted at half time in both of those!

There don’t appear to be any new injury worries for the Saddlers so it will more than likely be the same team that comfortably won at “five grand a week” minnows Pompey on Saturday.

Although Stevenage have started well they seem to struggle to impose themselves on teams at home (like we used to in the olden days before we became brilliant) and were lucky to hold the Sloppies to a draw by all accounts. They’ve had what looks a much easier start to the season than us but there’s no way I’m jinxing our super start to the season by predicting two away wins in a week.

1-1.

Portsmouth vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 6:53 pm Friday 14 September 2012

Dean Smith has expressed exactly what football is thinking. There are Portsmouth, supposedly on their uppers, having gone through numerous financial difficulties, most of which seem to have been caused by them having owners who could only pass the Football Authorities’ “fit and proper person” test, as they wouldn’t pass one in any other walk of life. Hanging on the brink, relegated to the third tier and what happens? They assemble, somehow, a squad most of this division couldn’t dream about! Meanwhile, we might assume, all the myriad of ordinary creditors are likely to end up with 2p in the pound. Deano said himself, “There will be eyebrows raised by a lot of clubs at the calibre of players they are signing and what they’re earning. We can only concentrate on Walsall and what we do, but I don’t think they’ve been shopping at Lidl’s”. As if to reinforce the point, they lose Gabor Gyepes this week injured and immediately bring in Ludomir Mischalik on loan!

Smith has a lot of choices to make, with Grigg back from International duty and the possibility of Adam Chambers also being fit, although James is still out.

I would expect the normal, for this season, 4 2 3 1, with Baxendale continuing in place of Chambers if he doesn’t make it. If he is back, Baxendale did enough to keep his place last week, so Paterson may be the one most under theat.

For Pompey, Gyepes is the only player missing, as Izale McLeod is expected to be fit

Predictions?

Pompey have had a poor start, picking up last week, courtesy of a referee sending off no fewer than two of Crawley’s players. I think we have enough in the locker to come away from Fratton with a point.

Walsall vs The Franchise Preview

Neil @ 5:13 pm Friday 07 September 2012

I think I must have said everything there is to say about tomorrow’s opponents, and nothing would give me greater pleasure to see them crash and burn, so I wont bother starting again on them. Let’s just say that we have been lumbered with a plastic football team, existing in a plastic town that was artificially created in the sixties, ruining some three small towns and seven villages in the process, all of which had their own heritage. One of them, Bletchley, contains Bletchley Park, the one place that probably had more to do with the winning of World War Two than just about any other single spot and another, Wolverton, which was, until 2006, the home to what was reckoned to be the oldest covered football stand in the world. Milton Keynes, being such a hotbed of football, let it be demolished for a rehousing redevelopment. Still, they put up as replica to commemorate it, so never mind. A replica stand in a plastic town, with a plastic football team. It all seems to fit, doesn’t it?

Dean Smith will have some decisions to make. Will Grigg is away on International duty, so there will be a choice of either reverting to 4 3 3, or staying with the 4 4 2 and bringing in Brandy or Williams to play up front. Taundry also returned to the fold in the week, so he is available to play, but the so far this season impressive Adam Chambers is only rated 50/50 and his brother James is out.

Adam Chambers’ absence, should that be the case, would make a 4 4 2 more likely.

Ginger haired hate figure, Captain Dean Lewington, will come straight back into the Franchise team. Lewington has completed a three-match ban for his red card in the 1-0 defeat at Swindon and will return at left-back. However, fellow defender Gary MacKenzie, an ever-present so far this season, will need replacing in the side following his call-up to the Scotland squad.

With Lewington back in the fold, Antony Kay, Adam Chicksen and midfielder Shaun Williams are likely to make up the Dons’ backline.

The only injury doubt for Manager Karl Robinson is midfielder Jimmy Bullard (there’s a shock!), who was forced off with a dead leg 56 minutes into his full debut against Northampton in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat in midweek.

Predictions?

The start to the season doesn’t get any easier, with Oldham still the only non fancied club that we have played so far, and this game looks as difficult as some of the others we have played. The Franchise lie in seventh position, with seven points from their 4 games so far. Mind you, if we hadn’t thrown away that lead against Brentford, we’d be level on points! Their League results haven’t been too good so far, so lets hope that continues tomorrow.

Special Guests

I don’t usually mention in the preview, but tomorrow’s special guests are the family of the late, lamented, Matt Gadsby, one of the stars of that special day in Cardiff. There will be a bucket collection in aid of CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and our thoughts will be with his family.

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