Writer: Robyn Richards
Date:Sunday April 10 2011
Saddlers came back from their two week break and suffered a 2-0 defeat after a poor performance to Plymouth Argyle.
Dean Smith adopted a risky 4-1-4-1 formation, with Gbarssin sitting behind the midfield and Byfield the lone striker.
Team: Walker, Butler, Williams, Smith, Westlake, Gnarssin, Gray, Richards, Laird, Ledesma, Byfield. Subs: McDonald, Macken, Nicholls, Taundry, Grigg, Cook Bevan.
The game started with a healthy and vocal visiting crowd as sun shone after a grueling five hour trip to the south west.
Walsall were a bit out of sorts as the game struggled to get going. Neither team could put together any action of great note.
However, the first half was full of heart stopping moments as the home side could easily have been 2 or 3 nil up should luck have gone their way.
Goalmouth scramble no1 came on 9 minutes as the ball went agonisingly close to going in and it was only the crossbar and the eventual save of Walker to save the defence's blushes.
The home side somewhat embarrassingly missed the goal a few minutes later as Patterson came with feet of the goal but somehow the score remained level. One of the misses of the season for sure but Walsall were thankfully just about still in the game.
Walsall were lacking urgency in their play and didn't quite look like they were up for he game as hoped. The best entertainment for the away support was when the Plymouth mascot 'Pilgrim Father' fell over.
Some good work from Williams, Gray and Byfield came on 27 minutes, Plymouth goalie David Button came off his line but Plymouth were in little danger of conceding. Byfield had little service all game and didn't really show much passion to get the ball himself.
Plymouth's Bolasie then had a good chance on goal but put the ball to the sky.
Butler was then involved in a rather gruesome clash with one the homeside and lost a tooth in his battle. The tooth was picked up by Matthew Richards and will hopefully be reimplanted. The game stopped for a few minutes while he was attended to. Another outstanding performance from the defender and kept Walsall out of trouble in the first half.
Westlake then did well as he received the ball from Richards but the chance was blocked.
Byfield then failed to run for the ball as he should of done from Matthew Richards and a chance was squandered.
The game was sinking into scrappiness, Plymouth by far the better side but still showing their relegation and financial plight. Buckets for a collection were dotted around the ground raising money for the staff who have not been paid following administration.
Goalmouth scramble no2 for the homeside came as Simon Walton came begging but the defence somehow kept out the danger.
Walker then made an impressive fingertip save to keep out Joe Mason.
The whistle sounded and Walsall had to vastly improve in the second half to take anything from the game.
However, it wasn't long before the Saddlers were trailing 1-0.
Yala Bolasie picked the ball up from a Rory Fallon header, Walsall failed to clear and the ball went into the back of the net. 1-0.
Smith acted fast in an attempt to turn the game around. Ledesma, who was quiet all game, left the pitch for Macken and disappointing Byfield made way for new loanee Jordan Cook.
Walsall got back into the game a bit and some Walsall supporters saw a bit of action. However, it was deeply lacking in quality and finesse.
Passing between Cook and Gray came to nothing before good work by Richards ultimately came to the same conclusion. Laird was then given a yellow card for blatant handball.
Matthew Richards took a free kick which landed to the typical head of Andy Butler but the chance went wide.
More good work from Richards was seen as he passed to Jon Macken but the shot was put to the sky.
Gbarssin then came off to allow Nicholls to make an entrance.
By this time the Saddler faithful had had just about enough of the match served up to them and were growing increasingly frustrated. A happy time for the club is getting a bit too hairy.
Gray went through on goal but was caught offside.
Matthew Richards then took a freekick but the shot saved by the Button. A shot on target!
Cook then picked the ball up from Westlake but the chance was wasted yet again.
Butler and Rory Fallon was given a talking to before Butler cleared off the line for the visitors.
Some rare passing was seen by the Saddlers as the game grew to a close between Macken, Richards and Gray before Laird put the chance to the sky.
More passing from a Richards free kick between Williams, Gray and Westlake saw the chance again wasted.
The air was turning blue in the Walsall and supporters becoming very upset as relegation gets seemingly more real.
The comprehensive victory was sealed by the Pilgrims as they scored their second goal on 88 minutes. Westlake lost possession to Rory Patterson and, with no defenders to be seen, it was up to Matthew Richards to get the ball back. Patterson found the back of the net as Walsall supporters were already leaving in their droves. 2-0.
The final whistle sounded and it was none to soon for the angry Saddler fans. It was just not good enough and with few excuses. Smith being handed a 2 year deal and the 2 week break has unfortunately done little to raise the Saddlers to any immediate safety. They find themselves in 22nd place behind Notts County with 42 points and the table doesn't lie. They now have 6 games to survive relegation and expect a lot of chewed nails before the season reaches its conclusion in less than a month's time.
We only have to wait until Tuesday before Saddlers are back in action when they welcome Johnstones Paint Trophy runners up Brentford to the Banks's.
Date:Sunday April 10 2011
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