Saddlers crash out of the FA Cup
Walsall crashed out of the FA Cup, with a dismal performance at Torquay on Saturday.
It was a frozen day at Plainmoor, as 236 Saddler supporters gathered in both standing and sitting areas and tried their best to keep warm.
However, there was little to take their minds off the bitter temperatures and the Saddlers struggled for most of the game. The Gulls looked strong and determined to make it into round three, where they face Carlisle at home. Their early exit means that they have the league only to concentrate on and most supporters would agree they would take surviving relegation over a of a cup run.
The team was largely unchanged, but Will Grigg was handed his first full start by Chris Hutchings after injuries to Jon Macken and Reuben Reid in last week's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. The young lad battled through but Liam Dickinson gave him little support and Torquay showed no relent in their strong defence.
Last week's defeat at Sheffield Wednesday flattered our opponents but on this occasion, we were flattered by not losing by more. Billy Kee tucked a well struck penalty past Walker to get the winner on 41 minutes, as confusion whether it was Andy Butler or Darryl Westlake brought Ashley Hemmings down in the area. Walsall went in at half time on the back foot and as the second half kicked off, they were lacking in spirit with all their chances comfortably going begging.
Jimmy Walker was the saviour of Walsall yet again, with several critical saves. The defence did OK, as did the midfield but without real fire-power upfront, it was hard to overthrow a lead. Will Grigg is more suited to having a experienced player alongside him, so a Byfield or Macken combination would bring out the best in him.
Two wins in the FA Cup first round and an spectacular performance against Carlisle got supporters thinking a brighter day was around the corner, but this has put a huge dampener on the season has winter sets in. The team seemed to lack spirit and determination to get something from the game.
Hutchings admitted his team poor display, telling the official site: 'We just didn't have that bit of fortune we needed in the box, the ball didn't fall for us and it was frustrating...We're not making the right decisions at the right times and it's things like this that the opposition are doing better than us at the moment.'
Oldham come to the Banks's on Saturday and hopefully the Saddlers can put the defeat behind them and fight for their place in league one. Survival in the league is now their only focus and every ounce of energy should be going into it. Only time will tell.
Did you brave the Torquay trip? What did you think of the game? Comment in the forum!