Colchester 2-0 Walsall

Exile @ 9:44 am Tuesday 22 February 2011

An away defeat that didn’t feel so bad? Paradox? No, a measure of the way we’ve become a club transformed since Hutchings was given the heave-ho just in time to join his old mate Jewell. Fans have become pragmatic instead of suicidal, and the effort is plain for all to see.

UTS regular Stu made a last-minute decision to go to Colchester. Albatross. He made these comments on the message board, and if you click the following link you too can have your say, once you log in or register

Well, back home now having made a spur of the moment decision to go about 12.30…

A little disappointing in the sense that we offered nothing going forward really. One of those occasions when we could have played for 90 weeks and not scored, let alone 90 minutes. Lots of nice approach play at times, but we had no idea how to then create a chance… It was good positions down the flank and poor balls in or nobody to aim for, or it was just given away in the middle of the park.

This is going to sound strange, we didn’t play too badly, but to be honest, we could have lost 5 or 6 quite easily. Walker made 3 good saves, they missed a sitter from 6 yards after 2 minutes, Lancashire flicked a header onto the inside of his own post and twice they went around Walker only to see Butler and then Gill clear off the line. They seemed to cruise around in 3rd gear for 90 minutes, yet still had the skill, guile and movement to carve us open at times.

For me, the balance of the team was wrong again. Taundry might run around, he might be a little terrier but he has no output or quality to his play, but putting him on the right wing is just soft as he continually comes inside. I lost count of the number of times Westlake had the ball with no option in front of him but to hoik it 20/30 yards down the flank or come back inside. On a big pitch like that, it was crying out for two traditional wingers, I was hoping to see Grigg or Price come on for Taundry and move Nicholls to the right flank for some pace.

The ref was poor, but we can’t blame him for the result, as said, they could have had 5, 6 or 7 today. The first goal was contenious in that Butler was claiming a goal kick, but the Ref gave a corner. He didn’t seem to protest too much though. Corner came in, fell loose, Macken got half a clearance on it but nobody picked up their bloke on the edge of the box who rifled it in. I can’t comment on the penalty and I don’t think any Walsall fan can really, it was 70/80 yards away from us on the opposite side, however we can comment on the fact that the entire Walsall team were absolutely livid with the Linesman for giving it. For me, the players reaction was more than enough to say it must have been a poor decision and I base my decision on that.

Started out 4-4-2, appeared to go 4-3-1-2 in the 2nd half with Gray taking up a very central role behind the front two. I think that was a mistake personally, as we became really congested and no real outlet on either flank to get around the back, and we didn’t have the pace or creativity to carve them open through the middle.

Walker – Super game, made 3/4 quality blokes from angled 1v1s and a superb 2nd half save from a pull back.
Westlake – Decent game, looked solid, got caught out a couple of times but bearing in mind he had nobody in front of him at times, its not surprising.
Lescott – Okay, not great, not awful.
Lancashire – Okay, not great, not awful
Butler – MOTM, the bloke is a brick wall. Sensational goal line clearance in the 2nd half, this bloke should be signed up now and be captaining this team next season.
Taundry – Poor, sorry. He might be a Walsall lad, he might run a lot and chase and harry, but there is no quality or output in his play. Sort of reminds me of a young Dean Keates, headless chicken at times, but without Keates’ quality.
Richards – Used the ball nicely, but faded as the match went on.
Gill – Shame that we’re losing him, lots of energy although, gets around the pitch, uses the ball well. Fantastic goal line clearance in the 2nd half when he clattered into the post in the process
Gray – Good first half I though, hugged the touchline, used the ball well, tried to get to the flank but nothing really to aim for. Didn’t do much in a central position in the 2nd half
Macken – This bloke gets so much stick, but he holds a ball up well. Just as he did on Tuesday, if he doesn’t hold it up, our forward play doesn’t exist. Struggled more today, was manhandled by their centre half for 90 minutes, but again, had very little support and Nicholls couldn’t read what Macken wanted.
Nicholls – Pretty anonymous I’m afraid. Doesn’t seem to read balls or runs.

Marshall – Anonymous
Grigg – Tried, but little success and little impact
Price – lol, the only footballer I’ve seen who seems to go backwards when he runs, the lack of pace is shocking, like Grigg, tried but little success and even less impact.

Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and admit you were beaten by a better side, today was one of those days. Could have been a lot worse, could have been 5, 6 or 7 which would have crushed morale. So, just chalk this one off and move on to the next episode of the Great Escape

PS: Chicken Balti pie was bloody awfull, worst I’ve ever tasted

Thanks, Stu. Anyone reading this far will have noticed your Bescot plug in the last line.


Torquay 1-0 Walsall: More bad luck

Exile @ 7:54 pm Sunday 28 November 2010

There’s a saying, often attributed to Samuel Goldwyn: “The harder you work, the luckier you get”. If that’s the case Chris Hutchings must be one of life’s biggest layabouts, a workshy bludger, as his Walsall teams are inevitably unlucky. The latest side to give Walsall the bum’s rush were Torquay, dumping us out of the FA Cup unceremoniously as Walsall slipped to yet another defeat.

Out of the cup at Torquay - what next?
  • Sack Hutchings now for goodness sake (54%, 261 Votes)
  • I don't care, I've given up (40%, 195 Votes)
  • Let's concentrate on the league! (6%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 484

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Torbay Saddler was at the game and had this to say:
“I only had to travel 3 miles and spend £12 to watch that load of tripe. My heart went out to the 200 or so brave souls who travelled down here and had to suffer that.
Nothing changes then.

Someone asked how Grigg played, to me he seemed the only one with any idea what to do with the football, felt sorry for the lad he got no service and eventually faded out of the game like the rest of them.

As for Dickensen, I’ve seen some No.9′s playing for Walsall over the years…. eg Tony Richards, George Kirby , but I wouldn’t pick Dickensen to play for Walsall Phoenix.
Torquay weren’t much better than us but without Jimmy Walker, I’m afraid it would have been 4 or 5….. and it definitely wasn’t a penalty. I think the referee was bored and thought the game might liven up if someone scored.

No passion, no idea and no motivation….. but wait a minute isn’t that the responsability of the manager.

Exeter and Plymouth next year ….. do I really need to waste time and money ( I may become a stayaway)”

That’s that for cup interest this season, so we can now concentrate on the league, and boy does that need concentrating on. Relegation in front of ever-dwindling crowds would appear to be a certainty, as long as Chris “Jonah” Hutchings remains manager.

Leyton Orient 0-0 Walsall: Groundhog Day

Exile @ 3:03 am Wednesday 29 September 2010

After close on 20 games without a clean sheet and 6 consecutive defeats, you’d think that a 0-0 draw away from home would steady the nerves, stop the rot, lead toward a bright future, etc. etc., wouldn’t you? I suggest the answer is no. There’s still a lot to do and blagging 0-0 against a team considered as a relegation candidate on the same night Carlisle put 4 unanswered goals past the side that beat us on Saturday rams it home.

0-0 at Leyton is...
  • a fluke result on the road to relegation (74%, 177 Votes)
  • a welcome turning point (26%, 62 Votes)

Total Voters: 239

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UTS regular saddlersam was at the game, and sums it up by phone on the way home, such is his dedication. Paragraphs and spacing are by the editor:

Not a great performance at all but not quite as bad as some will make out.

We just couldn’t get the ball on the deck at all, choosing to (as usual) smash it down the line to anyone daft enough to chase it. We seemed fairly up for it to start with but Orient were able to pass it round us far too comfortably at times, too much time and space on the ball. Same problems, different game.

Brain was a lot better than he has been. Got lucky with his ‘kick ‘n’ slip’ but made a terrific finger tip save over the bar midway through the second half.

Lescott gave far too much space away and McGivern’s crossing still hasn’t improved although some of his overlapping was better tonight.

Lancashire was fairly solid but there’s no communication between himself and Smith. That’s the inexperience showing for me.

Nicholls was poor on the right. He may not be a winger but he just doesn’t do anything to grab his chance. He has pace he doesn’t use and no strength whatsoever.

Richards was having to clean up an awful lot of wayward balls and Gray did some fantastic defensive work during the second half.

Davis would certainly put his foot in but never win that second ball.

Upfront I can definitely understand Reid and Macken’s frustrations, no service from the start, nothing was sticking and the latter showed it by clattering their defender early on. Was very late indeed.

On a positive note, we seemed to come alive slightly once Grigg came on and he seemed to unnerve the Orient defence in the closing stages.1 shot on target though is very poor but i’ll take the point after our recent run of poor form.

We made as much noise in the away end as we could really and regardless of the result both Hutchings and Mart have to go. I’d still feel that way had we nicked it. Apologies if this is a ramble, i’ve typed it up on my phone.

It would appear that the current injuries are causing problems as senior players remain out of the side. What might also be causing problems is the manager’s unwillingness to change what has been a losing team. Grigg, for example, as has been pointed out in the match thread here has played more for his country than his club, and this continues a longstanding Walsall tradition of being too scared to play the kids, even when it is patently obvious that the first choice team isn’t cutting the mustard. Is this poor play or poor management?

The big question remains – does a point away at Leyton constitute the turning point in what has been the worst start to a season in Walsall’s modern history or is it just a pause in a long litany of poor football? The disappointment in Leyton demonstrated here would suggest the latter.

Walsall 0-1 Colchester: time to take stock

Exile @ 9:33 pm Sunday 05 September 2010

Walsall slumped at home to their 4th defeat in 5 games this season, a 1-0 loss to Colchester. Word on the match thread here is that there were two poor sides on the go and Walsall contrived to lose the game rather than Colchester win through superiority.

4 defeats in 5 - who is most to blame?
  • The manager (44%, 159 Votes)
  • The board (24%, 85 Votes)
  • The players (19%, 67 Votes)
  • The fans for not turning up (13%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 360

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Chester Saddler gave a decent summary with little vitriol, so here it is:

My first live match this season, having listened to the previous games on Sadsworld.

A pretty uneventful game, I thought, which neither team did enough to deserve all three points.

First half, Colchester passed the ball better and caused numerous problems down our left hand side. Whether that was entirely the fault of Lescott, or a lack of support from midfield, I don’t know. Apart from one save from Richard’s free kick, their ‘keeper had very little to keep him occupied.

Second half was better from Walsall, but I always felt we would need to score 2 to win, as we looked very open to the counter attack, and so it proved. The ball travelled a long way in the air for the goal. I believe that Brain and the defenders would not have been happy with conceding from what appeared to be a speculative cross.

Having been toothless in the first half, I feel that we should have converted at least one of the Byfield chances, which had we done so, would have given us a deserved point against a pretty run of the mill opponent.

Richards was our best player by some distance. He was involved in virtually all our attacking play and seemed to be the only midfield player who was competent in his defensive duties.

Westlake played well, making two or three important last ditch tackles and was willing to pass the ball on the ground occasionally, which obviously caught the attention of the match sponsors.

Patterson made a promising full debut.

Brain looked nervous (not helped his indecision in the first couple of minutes, or by the ironic cheering from behind the goal when he caught the next cross)

Gray’s body language was all wrong today and it showed in his performance.

The rest were pretty so-so.

So, in summary, disappointed with the performance, the result, and particularly the attendance.

This game wasn’t a season-breaker, regardless of how some of our more excitable messageboard posters see it, nor was it the calamity that it could appear to be just looking at the scoresheet.

After 5 league games, we’ve won 2, lost 3, and the ones we’ve lost could be converted to draws or victories once our young, inexperienced team learns a little more about each others’ capabilities. After our manager took last seasons’ ‘new’ team (rebuild compulsory every Summer, don’t forget) to 10th, this season we’re leaning a lot more toward youth, and with the right backing from the fans, this squad could go places, if it’s given time.

Getting on their backs at the first opportunity is not a good look, and neither is shouting for the manager’s head just because we’re losing. Remember, in the 2007/2008 season we started awfully, waited till mid-September for our first win, and then from the end of September went on an unbeaten run that lasted till mid-January.

This is a young squad that needs backing for confidence. Add to that the financial worries surrounding the club and it’s pretty obvious that the club needs all the support it can get, regardless of who is at the top. As priestley_saddler said on the match thread, let’s change one thing at a time. First, let’s change the attitude that says shouting about everything is right. Support the team first, then see what we can influence. We’re supposed to be on their side.

Walsall v Colchester – Come Home!

Exile @ 2:21 am Friday 03 September 2010

Colchester are this week’s league guests at the Banks’s and Hutch and the lads are hoping that they won’t find the going as easy as Chesterfield appeared to on Tuesday. Still, this is the league, not a cup knockout, so there’s everything to play for points-wise.

Colchester are only one league place above us, on goal difference, but unbeaten so far, with three draws and a win (Rochdale) under their belts. A quick trawl of the internet reveals precious little about John Ward’s boys, as their official site is slower and worse than ours, with it’s full quota of betting adverts and a promo for a Bee Gees Tribute Night (snigger).

Hutch will probably send out the side that started on Tuesday, although there may be some temptation to tinker with our two-goals-a-game defence a little.

So, with Colcehseter scoring against everyone they’ve played except Sunderland, and us finding the net against everyone except Trampmere, there should be plenty of action this weekend.

It’s at the usual time, in the usual place, and the lads could do with some good support and noise, so get yourselves down there. Don’t forget Midland Bus will be running the usual Saturday Special if you fancy a pint before the game, and they’ll pick up (and drop off!) at the Town Centre, making it easy for you.

I’m picking a 3-2 win, one substition (80 minutes) and no red cards.

Shuffleboard: Walsall Gamble on Stefan, Leigh

Exile @ 9:30 pm Sunday 11 July 2010

Stefan Gamble, previously financial director, has ben named as Roy Whalley’s replacement as Walsall’s Chief Executive going forward. Roy himself will take a backseat role and concentrate on his duties as commercial director, generating off-field income. As Roy’s angling for a quiet departure, this little reshuffle should come as no surprise to Saddlers regulars. Stefan’s a beanie by trade and his financial acumen will hopefully suit the club in maximising it’s position based on income available from all sources.

One welcome surprise (to most) was the appointment of life-long Saddler Leigh Pomlett to the board. Leigh’s been a fan for 40 years, and his work experience in transport, freight and logistics should have given him a few well-connected contacts throughout Europe. UTS understands he’s been a F2G-based supporter so he’s familiar with some of the more (ahem) rough and tumble fans and their views on the running of the club.

These appointments mark a sea change in Walsall’s management. Last time a director was appointed the announcement was kept under wraps but this time the club’s been upfront, and even better, the director is a Walsall fan with no ties to Leeds-based development consortiums.

One thing that the three have in common is an appreciation of how important fans are to a football club:

Roy Whalley on attendance:
“How far this club goes depends on how many supporters come,”

Stefan Gamble on attendance:
“It’s top of the list. We have to engage our supporter base and that is one of the things we will address from the outset. If we can get them back it doesn’t guarantee us a better season, but it certainly helps.

Leigh Pomlett:
“I’ve been a Walsall supporter for over 40 years.”

Perhaps one of the first things these three could agree on in the brave new world of Walsall FC would be that silencing fans who are critical of some aspects of the club might not be in everyone’s best interests. While one has had his ban rescinded, it would be nice of others were to be treated the same way, having been summarily excluded for the same “crime”. Neil can attend matches next season, now it would be nice if it were confirmed that Darren and Wayne were accorded the same treatment. Fresh season, fresh start, please, Walsall. Let’s have some perspective.

Marshall Amped To Sign For Walsall

Exile @ 11:17 pm Tuesday 15 June 2010

Ex Man City youngster Paul Marshall is Walsall’s first new signing of the Summer, having put his pawprint on a contract for 12 months today.

20 year-old Paul came through the City youth set-up since joining at age 11, and has played for Man City Reserves, with loan spells at Blackpool, Port Vale and Aberdeen. He’s also been to a World Cup, with the England U20 squad in Cairo last year.

Marshall is a 6’1″ left-footed midfielder, and has been played in the middle and on the wing. 20 senior appearances have seen him score one goal – a free kick. He’s confident he can do the business, and apparently is pretty comfortable on the ball. Let’s hope so!

Welcome to Walsall, Paul!

A season of two halves

Exile @ 2:14 am Wednesday 24 March 2010

Another season is fast disappearing up it’s own backside and we’re well placed for midtable mediocrity, based on average performances. On the face of that’s much better than a relegation challenge, but after a couple of years of standard preseason sound bites from Roy Whalley about promotion, that’s cold comfort indeed.

The problem with the first paragraph is ‘average performances’. On results so far we’re on 47 points, 10 off relegation and cruising into the home stretch. Trouble is, if we look at how that season has progressed we see two very distinct halves.

In the first 19 games we gained 30 points, helped along by the November purple patch that gave us some hope for the rest of the season. We defeated Yeovil away to round off that half season on the 1st of December.

Since then we’ve played 18 games, won only 4, been dumped 9 times and gained only 17 points, including an 8 game streak without a win. Luckily we made those points in the first half of the season, as that’s relegation form whatever way you look at it. On this basis we’ll be lucky to see 55 points by the end of the season, and we’re doubly lucky that there’s some runaway good teams in the top 6 and plenty of dross surrounding us.

Chris Hutchings was appointed in January 2009 and has now had 15 months in the role as manager, after serving as Paul Jewell’s understudy (and sweeping up after him) for much of his previous career. Never stellar in previous caretaker roles, his record at Walsall has now been so patchy it can best be desribed as flattering to deceive. We’re so inconsistent there’s no tipping point, no crisis, no defining moment that shouts out loud “You don’t know what you’re doing”, but an accumulation of deflating performances, non-existent or ineffectual tactics, inexplicable substitutions, team sheets with good names missing or players out of position, and a succession of lacklustre games that leave every fan flat can say the same thing much more quietly.

Perhaps there’s problems further up the chain? We are all well aware of Mr. Bonser’s desire to leave contract negotiations to the last possible moment, the club’s financial shortcomings and the fact that other potential managerial candidates (and previous managers) have decided that Walsall was not for them based on personal financials and lack of future commitments. There’s a smell of short-termism surrounding Walsall FC, and that’s not good for a sports club that’s survived 123 years.

We need some progress. We need some leadership. Heck – we need some consistent football! Where’s that going to come from? Your guess is as good as mine. Consistently finishing in League One midtable is not my definition of a club going anywhere, but where is there to go when we can’t pay for a better squad and refuse to pay for a better manager?

Sorry there’s no answers in this monologue.

How many Walsall fans does it take to change a mind?

Exile @ 12:57 am Wednesday 25 November 2009

Tonight’s league match against Oldham saw a crowd of just 2,960 Saddlers fans watch our 3-0 demolition job. Take away the usual excuses such as midweek, weather, cup on Saturday (although that’s an unusual excuse given our performances in recent years!) and dress it up however you want, that’s a terrible number for a team sat on the cusps of the League One playoffs.

It’s too late now to do anything substantial about ticketing, seating and pricing differentials for this year, so one thing, and only one thing, could make a difference to the rest of the campaign. It’s time for the club owner to front up and state his ambitions for this season.

Is our debt sustainable enough to stand a season with a squad and manager that are growing together, seemingly stronger and more comfortable with each passing game, or will we have to sell up one or more of our promising youngsters in the January sales? If it’s the latter, I think the fans deserve to know sooner rather than later, and be given the reasons why.

Undoubtedly we’ll have to pay this debt off, but using such a short-term solution as selling a player when we’re in the position we are now would be a folly up there with the worst of them, guaranteed to see a further decline in numbers as the remaining fans realise what they’ve been willing to ignore thus far – under the current owner, Walsall’s mantra is “no ambition, no commitment, no future”.

Please, Jeff, do one thing this January, stand firm behind the club and you’ll see more fans stand behind you instead of against you.

Stourbridge FA Cup Ticketing Arrangements

Exile @ 8:01 pm Thursday 29 October 2009

Walsall have been allocated 490 (yes, 490!) tickets for their FA Cup first round match away against plucky Stourbridge on Saturday 7 November. Refreshingly, Stourbridge haven’t cashed in on their opposition’s lofty status and the tickets cost only 12 quid (or 8 for concessions)

This unusually high allocation should take the pressure off the gate considering we take much less than that to most away games at the moment, but this being the “magical” FA Cup, there’ll be some pressure on fans to get in early to book their ticket or miss out.

Season Ticket holders get first dibs, but to honour these faithful supporters the club has decided, in it’s infinite wisdom, to put tickets on sale at 10.00am this Saturday, October 31, when many of these regular followers will already be on the road, travelling to support the Super Saddlers away at glamorous Wycombe. The ticket office closes at 2.00pm on Saturday, reopening Monday morning, which rather scotches the club’s excuse that the tickets had to go on sale Saturday as many fans can’t wait till Monday as they have to be at work. How about those Season Ticket holders that work, AND are loyal enough to be going to follow the fortunes of the club away on Saturday?

If you’re a Season Ticket holder AND going to Wycombe, get a mate or family member to go down to the ground with your season ticket book Saturday morning for the best chance of gettting a ticket.

Perhaps a fairer solution would have been to start selling tickets from the town shop on Sunday. Still, when has customer cervice ever been a strong point of the club, especially when you know you’ll sell out anyway?

Casual fans (as in no season ticket, not young idiots with ASBOs) get an opportunity, if there’s any left, at 9.00am on Thursday 5 November.

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