Archive for October, 2012
Now, what on earth do I know about Bury? There’s a poem by Marriott Edgar, of “Albert and the Lion” fame (and a personal hero), of course:
In a shop on banks of t’Irwell,
Sam use to follow his trade,
In a place you’ll happen of heard of called Bury
That’s where all black puddings is made.
It’s got a few illustrious sons and daughters, including what seems to be most of the cast of Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, Lisa Riley being the most notable (if that’s the right adjective). After that, it’s Victoria Wood, Richmal Crompton (the teenagers can look that one up), Danny Boyle and Elbow. Oh, and Phil and Gary Neville, who aren’t from Bolton at all. It seems they have even fewer than we do,then! All in all, it’s a pretty non descript place!
Unfortunately, the football club does have one over on us, though, having spent 1895–1912 and 1924–29 in the top flight, and also having two FA Cups and three lower division Championships under its belt.
Dean Smith will be forced into changes for the game, with Dean Holden serving his suspension for the sending off at Bramall Lane. Whether Holden has forgiven Paterson for that horrendous back pass is quite another matter. To make matters worse, Karl Darlow hasd been recalled by Forest, thanks to an injury to their second choice keeper, Dimitar Evtimov. Grof will, presumably, be back between the sticks and Downing will step up in place of Holden, but Smith must also be contemplating other changes in an attempt to arrest the slump in results. Ben Purkiss must be pushing for a recall, as is James Chambers, now, at last, fit again. One man who will not be figuring, however, is Connor Taylor, sent out on loan to Nuneaton today.
Bury striker and ex Saddler Andy Bishop is an injury doubt for the opposition. Bishop, who recently returned to Gigg Lane following a loan spell at Wrexham, overcame a groin complaint to face Yeovil a week ago but is now laid low with a foot problem.
Should Bishop miss out, manager Kevin Blackwell is likely to select either Northern Ireland international David Healy or QPR loanee Troy Hewitt to partner Tom Hopper in attack.
Hewitt is waiting for his Bury debut having been an unused substitute for Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Hartlepool’
On-loan Leeds midfielder Zac Thompson serves the second game of a three-match ban following his red card at Yeovil, while Lenell John-Lewis and Phil Picken (both knee) are long-term absentees
Bury finally climbed off the bottom of the table with their first win of the season on Tuesday night. Before getting carried away, however, that win was against Hartlepool, who, at the moment, would have a great deal of difficulty beating the Long John Silver Impersonator’s XI (one for the teenagers there), never mind the blind school. If Smith can get his misfiring strikers to start hitting the back of the net again, then this is a winnable game.
The Saddlers travel to South Yorkshire tonight with our recent slump beginning to overshadow the excellent start to the season made by Smith & O’Kelly’s young team. It’s now five games since we last registered a win and we couldn’t have asked for a tougher place to attempt to break the sequence than a trip to Bramall Lane. After Tranmere’s loss on Saturday, United are now the only unbeaten team in the Football League and sit third in League One. Bedevilled by financial problems over recent years, the Blades embarked on another round of cost-cutting measures in the summer in order to comply with the new financial fairplay rules. This has seen the entire ticket office staff replaced by a three-year old child with a Fisher Price abacus and a telephone. How else to explain the risible arrangements for this game – “we might tell you if we’re going to sell tickets to away fans on the night but we might not. Don’t try ringing us the day before because it only confuses us.” Poor.
Even so, they were still able to spend the money they saved on a couple of ‘undisclosed fees’ for two strikers in the close season – Nick Blackman from Blackburn and Shaun Miller from Crewe as well as our own Darryl Westlake who, just in case the League haven’t sorted the compo out yet is THE BEST DEFENDER WE HAVE EVER HAD AND WILL UNDOUBTEDLY CAPTAIN ENGLAND IN THE NEAR FUTURE. Couple of million should do it, cheers. Ginger-haired assassin (he hates you referring to his ginger hair) Dave Kitson has also washed up on a life raft from the wreckage of HMS Portsmouth although there are doubts about the flame-tressed frontman’s fitness. He was substituted at half time at Preston on Saturday and has been suffering from a virus.
Kitson is notable as the current favourite to be ‘The Secret Footballer’ – whose unusually eloquent and honest assessment of life as a professional footballer has led to lots of men with no girlfriend spending ages trying to work out his identity. I know for a fact that it’s actually written by Ishmel Demontagnac, but SHHH! – don’t tell anyone. Danny Wilson’s only other injury concern is defender Marcus Williams who is struggling with ankle and back knack. Dean Smith will probably continue with Will Grigg up front on his own but may elect to bring James Chambers back at right back following his recovery from injury and Richard Taundry’s torrid second half on Saturday.
Predictions? On the surface this seems a straightforward ‘home win’ but dig a little deeper and there’s some room for cautious optimism. United may be unbeaten but they’ve also drawn more than their fair share – especially at home. Oldham, Bury and even Burton have ruined a few people’s fixed-odds coupons so far this season and although they don’t concede many they’re not particularly free scoring either – apart from a 5-3 tonking of a Bournemouth side in turmoil they are yet to score more than one goal at home in the league this season.
Add the fact that we saved our best performances of last season (and, arguably, this) for games where we’ve been the underdog and we may well have a better chance than many think. The most important factor may be how much the recent poor run has taken out of us mentally and physically – as many have noted we have started to look awfully tired in the last twenty minutes of games. But if the lads can’t get themselves up for a game at Bramall Lane then there really is something wrong.
Last minute disaster for the Saddlers on Saturday as Crewe came back from 2-0 down to grab a point at Bescot. Mossa was there and had a bit of a rant on the message board:
Still fuming although I fully expected 2-2 when we stupidly let Crewe back into it at the end of the first half. I just don’t understand how we can be so dominant for the first 30-35 mins of both halves and then suddenly let Crewe dominate the rest of each half. It is either because we think the job is done or we panic. Either way this is bad management and needs addressing but I’m not sure Deano has this ability. By now we know Deano’s strengths and weaknesses. What he does well he does very well but what he does bad he does very bad, I can’t see this changing. His subs yesterday were beyond belief. Featherstone was playing very well and has that calmness on the ball which we needed towards the end, why on earth did he take him off? I would have rather him have taken Flo off who despite clearly being IMO MOTM looked tired and was very quiet the last 20 mins. Taundry looked comfortable the first half but had an absolute shocker in the second half, giving the ball away all the time. I prefer Purkiss to be honest, i dont see what he has done wrong to be dropped.
Knowing Walsall I wouldn’t be surprised if we get something at Sheff UTD, similar to last season we seem to be doing better against the better teams. Very frustrating club to follow and on another point why oh why have we still not got another striker yet at least on loan, we desperately need a target man type, nearly every club in this division has one. He doesn’t necessarily have to start either but like yesterday would have been ideal to bring on and hold up the ball rather than bringing on Bowerman who barely touched the ball.Rant over for now.
The Saddlers entertained the nation with a dazzling display in front of the Sky cameras yesterday, but undeservedly came away with nothing despite dominating goal attempts.
Saddlers was at the game and reminds the moaners via the message board to take a reality check:
Having watched on TV again – I think that the frustrations of missing a consierable amount of chances and not having a target upfront took over the fact that, on another day we’d have scored anywhere between 2 and 5 goals. The football in the first half and in fact, throughout the game is good. Some things need addressing. I’d loan Hemmings, Brandy and Williams out – replace them with another winger and a hard centre forward that can receive the ball into feet, but hold it up and we’l be 100% fine.
Last season we moaned at how dire the football was, the lack of interest in the club, old journeymen players. All I can say is thank god Smith hasn’t signed anything like that. Compare the Dads Army we had in 07/08 with Danny Sonner, Paul Hall, Darren Wrack, Martin Butler etc to the team we have now. It only takes 1 or 2 of them to have a 2nd half of the season like the 1st – Baxendale and Bowerman for example and people will be talking about fees.
Seriously, If you can’t be bothered to come and watch this football with this team, you’v seriously lost interest in either the club or football all together and perhaps both.
What a depressing week and a half that was to be a Saddler. The two unexpected League defeats after what has been a promising start to the season, were followed up by a home defeat in the Paint Pot Trophy to the old enemy of Port Fail, in one of the worst penalty shootouts in history, judging by the number missed. Still, all that, of course, can be more than put right in front of the Sky cameras on Sunday against the traditional enemy, Shrewsbury Town.
Funny place, Shrewsbury. It was, of course, the birthplace of Charles Darwin, who first published his work on evolution in the nineteenth century, totally ignoring the wealth of evidence to counteract his theory in the shape of the inhabitants of nearby Wolverhampton. However, I have always been willing to forgive most of its strangeness, thanks to its wonderful educational establishments. Britain’s greatest war poet, Wilfred Owen, went to the nearby Wakeman School and Shrewsbury Public School was responsible for the education of Willy Rushton, Python Michael Palin and “Uncle” John (Peel). That just about makes up for well know professional Potter Nick Hancock, another ex Shrewsbury Public School pupil, despite his apparent working class demeanour!
Walsall’s main problem at the moment does seem to be that the tactics have been sussed. In the two recent League games, certainly, the midfield was given no space at all and our main asset, Florent Cuvelier, became more of a liability, as he was “sat on”, stopping him from fulfilling his normal role of the creative outlet. There may well have to be a change of tactics, however, this week, with a return to 4 2 3 1 being likely, in the absence, on International duty, of Will Grigg and that should give the creative midfielders more possession where it hurts the opposition.
The Saddlers will also welcome back Dean Holden, rested for the Fail game and may also have Adam Chambers back, something which would make a 4 2 3 1 even more likely.
As for the Sloppies, Goalkeeper Chris Weale will return, while Asa Hall is also pushing for a starting berth.
Weale made way for Joe Anyon to make his Town debut in Tuesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash against Crewe, but the summer signing was forced off after just 20 minutes nursing a slight hamstring strain and will be assessed ahead of the weekend Weale duly took over but was unable to prevent a 2-1 defeat, which leaves Shrews winless in five games.
Midfielder Hall came off the bench in that game and needed just three minutes to net Town’s consolation, before again finding the net for the club’s reserves less than 24 hours later, pressing his claims for a starting berth against the Saddlers.
Tom Bradshaw also scored for the second string and will compete with Ryan Doble for a place alongside Marvin Morgan in attack, with strikers Terry Gornell (knee) and Sam Winnall (hamstring) continuing to miss out along with left-back Joe Jacobson (ankle).
Depends on their tactics and which Walsall turns up. At our best, we have proven already this season we are well capable of winning just about anywhere. I’d expect a point at least and a boost to the squad’s confidence.
The Annual Supporters Trust sports quiz takes place this Thursday at the Saddlers Club.
It will be an 8.00 pm start with an entry fee of £5 per team (maximum of 6 in a team).
There will also be the separate “Brain of Walsall” quiz for individuals, with £1 entry.
The raffle will include match tickets donated by Walsall F.C. – everyone welcome!
Last minute disappointment at the weekend as the Saddlers crashed to their second home defeat in five days. WFC Rob was there and offered this assessment via the message board:
One bad result is an excusable bad day at the office. Two home defeats in the space of five days however, suggests there’s something genuinely wrong.
Again, we didn’t play that badly, but we did seem to get completely sussed out by a decent looking Carlisle side. They didn’t give us a moment’s piece to play our passing game, and had players who looked mobile and hungry – in essence, they were better at the things we’ve been praised for this season.
Our goal was an absolutely fantastic team goal to score. The way we worked the ball wide before picking out the perfect ball into the box, Boweman’s dummy to lay things on a plate and Paterson’s finish were all absolutely spot-on, and I thought we’d kick on from there. What actually happened was, they came back fighting and we had no response. Granted, a brilliant save by their ‘keeper to keep Bowerman’s one-on-one out probably kept them in it, but we didn’t do enough to build up some momentum.
Garner and Cademarteri gave Butler and Holden a really tough afternoon with their movement and were always on the go. To add to our woes, Robson on their left tore us apart at times – hence the need to bring Purkiss off at half time. Their goal was a poor goal to give away in that Purkiss and Holden failed to make a routine clearance and they got the ball in to allow Garner to do what he does best.
What summed their approach up was the number of times the normally neat and tidy Featherstone gave the ball away. We were our own worst enemies at times by having two strikers who didn’t offer enough movement and by trying to play football in our third of the pitch, but they did play a good pressing game and we struggled to play around them.
What lost the game for me was Smith’s substitutions. Again, we’d struggled to control things in midfield, yet rather than going 4-5-1 with Baxendale and Cuvelier a bit more free to get forward in support of Bowerman, Smith swapped Baxendale for Hemmings, which meant our struggling system had to remain the same. He then took off our only goal threat for Brandy, who’s never going to score against a side whose defensive line has reverted back to the edge of their own penalty area.
Our squad lacks any kind of depth and we looked much worse when Hemmings and Brandy came on, as much as I hate to say it. To make matters worse, Hemmings attitude frankly stank – he’d put the effort in once the ball was at his feet, but spent the rest of the time sauntering around, with no desire to track his man and help out when Carlisle looked to break forward. For a player who was dropped not so long ago, we need him going out there and looking to win his place back, not sulking about like a prima dona.
The injury time winner was always likely given the way we seemed to allow every one of our attacks to stutter and break down, allowing them to break forward at will.
People will undoubtedly argue that we should play 4-4-2 as it’s a more attacking setup, but the truth is, it doesn’t work with the players we have at our disposal. We need Cuvelier to have the freedom to hurt teams in the middle, and we need Baxendale to be able to offer more than he can as a wide midfielder, which won’t happen in such a rigid 4-4-2 where both have to be very disciplined. Grigg played well today, but as the least threatening of the two strikers, should be sacrificed to allow us to go back to running games in midfield. Chambers’ return should help that, so hopefully he’s back and fighting fit sooner rather than later.
So all in all, a hugely disappointing week. Smith needs to remind himself of what impressed so much at the start of the season and revert to allowing his team to play to its strengths.
The Saddlers have an immediate chance to put right Tuesday night’s result, with a home game against Carlisle United. We might well expect set backs with a young team trying to play the style of football we are attempting, but the measure of a team is always how you bounce back.
The Orient game was a disappointment in the firat half, as we struggled to come to terms with Orient’s defence in depth tactics. The second half performance, as Slade’s men tired, became a very different affair, with the Walsall desperately unlucky not to get at least a point, as Grigg was clearly bought down in the area late on and no one, least of all the players, can probably understand how the ball didn’t go into the net in the “great goalmouth scramble”.
Any way, on to the visitors from the wild northlands.
Carlisle is a strange place, in may ways, being so isolated from the rest of the country, at least before the coming of the M6, with easier connections to Newcastle than the Lancastrian industrial towns, in those days. The football team did, however, despite a relatively late introduction to the professional game in 1928, have one golden period, finally spending just one season in the top flight in 1974/75, leading to the usual condescending comments by TV commentators about being able to watch the sheep in the distance from the commentary position. Their most glorious moment, according to the TV again, will be goalkeeper Jimmy Glass’s equaliser in injury time to keep them in the League in 1998/99 season. What “they” never say, of course, is that the incident just put off the inevitable and they went down to the Conference in 2004, before former Saddler Paul Simpson got them back up at the first time of asking.
As for famous sons and daughters, there are very few, with Helen Skelton of Blue Peter being one and one of my all time favourite authors, George MacDonald Fraser, of the “Flashman” series, another.
Dean Smith has no fresh injury worries, although his team selection quandries may increase, with Walker, Adam Chambers and James Chambers all nearing fitness and possibly available for the game. Even if they are, its difficult to see the starting eleven changing, however, so they may have to make do with a place on the bench. (If it all stays that way, by the way, when did we last have a bench strong enough that it could contain the likes of Brandy, Hemmings, James and Adam Chambers?).
Carlisle, however, could make some changes. Striker Kallum Higginbotham, on loan from Huddersfield, could make his first league start for them, after their scheduled game at Bury on Tuesday night was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Manager Abbott, who wants a positive response following last week’s home defeat to Crawley, has no new injury or suspension problems, but could also recall summer signing Mike Edwards to the heart of his defence. Midfielder Liam Noble is pushing for a return to the starting line-up, while he is likely to name teenagers Mark Beck and David Symington on the bench.
Goalkeeper Mark Gillespie is expected to keep Adam Collin among the substitutes following his fine form in recent weeks.
Carlisle arrive bang in the middle of the table, with 12 points from 9 games. Their away record, with them having won two and drawn one, is actually better than their home record, where they have won one and drawn two. I’d still take us to put Tuesday behind us with a win, however.
The popular Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me is looking for amusing people from Walsall to take part in the new series. Full details on the message board: