Sunday, 11 December 2011

More Walsall

Yesterday's report was flashed off on the train from the Bescot to Birmingham New Street, so I thought I would elaborate...

The country's second city really doesn't do itself justice. It's hard to find any redeeming factors (Balti?) about it. New Street is an undersized station for a city the size of Birmingham and it is a bit of a mess. I had a twenty minute wait for the Walsall train so thought I would venture out for a pint. I only got to the main road and confirmed what I already knew - it was a mistake. Half-baked shopping centres and beggars with Brummie accents. Back to the Shakespeare in the station then before the push and pull train to Walsall. The view out of the window is depressing although I guess the run into Euston station is hardly picturesque. Aston Villa slides past via two stations, Aston and Witton, and you know you have arrived by the Bescot when the railway line runs alongside the M6 by the RAC building. The "stadium" is on the other side of the motorway which is crossed via what looks like an poorly planned after-thought of an alleyway and car park.

The ground is someway from Walsall itself so there's not much else there. However, the Saddlers Club does at least provide a large working-mens type club with a members only bar and a larger one for visiting supporters which tells you as much as you need to know about Walsall Football Club. They survive on visiting fans as much as anything else. We had c 1100 fans there yesterday but the home areas looked like they held little more than two thousand. Surprised therefore to hear the gate announced at four and half thousand.

The view from the visiting end (and both sides) is marred by 19 posts but we got to see the action. We looked a class apart for most of the first-half and dominated proceedings despite finding the central back pairing hard to split. Danny Hollands and Darel Rusell anchored the midfield and we pushed on very effectively down the left although not so successfully on the right. Walsall broke pretty well but Morrison was everywhere and always appeared to have a couple of yards to play back or out as the situation demanded. Solly and Wiggins were as sure-footed as they have been and it looked only a matter of time before we broke the deadlock.

Kermorgant saw more of the ball than Wright-Phillips but was being well marshalled by Smith (the sponsor's man-of-the-match). With the break approaching, Walsall forced a corner and the inswinging ball fell into a melee of players. I think it was Taylor who tried to lash it clear only to see it spin back off a Charlton player and fall perfectly for John Macken to net from close range. We responded well and took the game straight back down to the other end and levelled before the break. Hogan Ephraim broke down the left flank and went on beyond the last man, He looked up and spotted Yann Kermorgant coming in at the far post albeit with Walsall defenders in attendance but Hogan's ball was raking and perfect as it cleared the keeper and fell onto the head of Kermorgant who out-jumped his markers and thumped home the header. Bradley Wright-Phillips had missed our best chance up until then we he burst onto a through ball but snatched at his shot early and drove it wide of the left-hand post.

After the break we came out strongly and, kicking towards the away-end, looked like we would win the game and celebrate in style. We were looking to play BWP in but Smith and Lancashire were very tight and were letting nothing past. Green was struggling to beat his man on the right and also looked like he was tiring. That enabled walsall to get a passage of the game where their neat short passing game played into into our half for fifteen minutes and they forced a number of corners but we rarely looked like conceding again. Hamer was forced into a good save when they did break through and Russell headed off the line when the parry from Hamer was fired goal-ward.

In the final five minutes we tried to suck the ball in. Wagstaff was on for Green and was running at the defence but was unable to create anything decisive. One of his runs from our half had forced a crude challenge from Sadler who was already on a yellow and got his marching orders. In the last minute we created a couple of corners, one of which looked like it struck a walsall arm as it was played in. There were strong appeals from the players in white (it's not easy to watch a game where the opposition play in Charlton's home colours) but the referred was adamant and I suspect he got it right. Ephraim always hit the woodwork but we had left it too late.

A point then on a the day when Huddersfield tripped up at home to Bournemouth and Wednesday and MK Dons both won away to close our lead. The current unbeaten run remains intact and I can see us getting to New Year unbeaten.

It was good to see some old faces yesterday. Al (the Copper), Peterborough Ray, George (Ray's Son), Nick (Southampton Addick) and his son as well as my old classmate Peter Roberts. I expect to see a lot more of them in 2012 as we push for promotion.



Ray said...


It was great to see you again, Sorry I did not tell you,my sons name is George.. Ray

Anonymous said...

The canal area in Brum is good...but you wouldn't have the time to visit this area on a day trip to Walsall...nice report by the way.

Scoops said...

Without seeming presumptious I can see us picking up all six points from the next two games, however a London derby away to Orient on the tele on New Years Eve looks like a big slippy banana skin to me. And is it just me, but a local derby kicking off at 5.20 on new years eve? That is truly nightmare fixture planning from the football league and sky tv. I can see many blokes having to enter into complexed negotiations with their respective wifes.

Dave said...

Scoops - I can see six points from Oldham and Yeovil too but can't help thinking the O's might be a bit of a gift. If we can get 3000 fans over there I think we can do what we have done in the last two visits and turn it into a home game. Understand your point re the timing etc but I would have thought it would be manageable for most on the basis that we should all become by 9pm in time to bring in the New Year with our families? Man-Up!

Anonymous said...

Good to see you again Dave.
As you say we'll probably bump into each other a few more times this season as at least now we can go to games actually believing we can win them.

Nick B Southamptonaddick (and son Lee)


Scoops said...

Dave said 'Understand your point re the timing etc but I would have thought it would be manageable for most on the basis that we should all become by 9pm in time to bring in the New Year with our families? Man-Up!'

LOL, you ain't met my wife Dave!

If we do win at Orient the first half of this season will have exceeded all of my expectations.

The good news is if I can't make it along at least i'll be able to start the Old Years Night festivities (and beer) rather early.

Dave said...

Scoops - we've Christmas between now and then. Push the boat and butter her up!

Dave said...

Scoops - we've Christmas between now and then. Push the boat and butter her up!

ChicagoAddick said...

Sky have buggered my NYE right up!