Writer: Robyn Richards
Date:Sunday September 12 2010
Walsall slumped to another defeat against Rochdale, in a game that was packed with action.
Jon Macken fired the Saddlers ahead in the opening minutes, before goalkeeper Jonny Brain gifted the Dale 2 goals as he let the ball slip through him. Darren Byfield then levelled the Saddlers with a well taken strike. Clayton McDonald then gave away a penalty and Brain couldn't quite get a hand to the ball in time. After Rochdale went ahead once more, the Saddlers failed to re-find their rhythm and pace and they went home pointless again.
The Saddler fans were in full voice for this encounter and thought they were in for a great day when Darren Byfield passed to Macken, who turned with the ball and put in straight into the back of the net. The Saddlers were moving the ball apace, on a high from their early boost. 0-1
Walsall were putting in some decent chances with some on point passing which saw Gray have a decent chance at goal thorough Matt Richards and Ryan McGivern, but the winger put the shot wide. Richards came close soon after but the danger was cleared by the home side
On 24 minutes, Walsall's sprightly start was hampered. A corner came in for Rochdale and came for Jonny Brain to catch and clear the danger. The goalkeeper caught the ball, dropped it, which allowed Josh Thompson to fire it home. 1-1
More positive play ensued and McGivern came close, but the effort was put wide of the target
On the stroke of half time, it was both joy and anguish for the Saddlers. Brain was on hand yet again to hand the lead to Rochdale. The ball was scrambled in the Saddler danger zone with Anthony Elding, Josh Thompson and Chris O'Grady and the ball somehow went underneath Brain and into the net. The Saddlers couldnt quite believe what they saw as the home supporters celebrated. 2-1
However, it turned to joy as Darren Byfield picked up from the right of the goal and expertly landed the ball into the back of the net. The striker was ecstatic as he got the Saddlers back in the game and they went into the dressing room level. 2-2
As the second half kicked off, the Saddlers were mostly on top with chances being made. A Richards free kick found the head of Clayton McDonald, but the ball missed the target. Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis was tested as a McGivern shot was pushed over the bar.
However, Saddler hearts broke as the referee pointed to the spot as Clayton McDonald brought down Gary Jones inside the area. Jones put the ball into the net as Brain couldn't get to the ball.3-2
Brought down by the penalty, the Saddlers were not as fluid as they were previously and the pace of the game slowed down. A string of dubious reffing decisions were abound, as nothing seemed to go in visiting sides direction. Reid came on for Paul Marshall on 70 minutes, turning the game into an attacking 4-3-3 formation, closely followed by Paterson entering the field for Julian Gray.
Saddler hearts stopped as Rochdale got a fourth, but as celebrations echoed around the Spotland, the goal was quickly ruled out because a foul in the area. Thank god.
Despite having the ball for most of the remaining game, the Saddlers didn't look much like finding the winner and the whistle blew for the end of the game.
It was a frustrating game and the two errors from Brain just not acceptable. Hutchings is now carving out a decent team on the rest of the field, with both strikers finding the net. It's just a shame that the shot stopper can't keep the shots out. Positives can be drawn from the game that we are finding the net now and able to play some decent football, but the opposition teams always look dangerous on the attack. Next up is Swindon at home and hopefully we can score a few goals and keep a few out.
Date:Sunday September 12 2010
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