Writer: Lee Hale
Date:Friday July 22 2011
The Saddlers by no means disgraced themselves in this second friendly in as many days against the Premier League might and multi million pound of Aston Villa. The Claret and Blue side brought with them a very large crowd (more than them from down the road on Tuesday) and Villa started with a strong starting 11, which included new signing Shay Given and England international Darren Bent. Walsall gave a start to a lot of the new signings Gnakpa, Sadler, Beevers as well as Adam Chambers who captained the Saddlers in place of substitute Andy Butler.
In the early exchanges Walsall looked up for the fight and against lesser opposition it would have been a much different story, but the talent Villa have at their disposal proved the difference. This showed on the eighth minute when a low Heskey cross found Darren Bent at the back post for a simple tap in to make it 1-0.
The Saddlers started to see a bit more of the ball after the goal and after 13 minutes their first chance materialised from a deep Mat Sadler cross, Jonny Macken headed over the Villa crossbar.
On the half hour mark it was all The Saddlers. Hurst hit the Villa post with a free kick after their centre back pulled back Ryan Jarvis, Gnakpa then showed some lovely skill on the wing to force a corner of which nothing came about.
However, Villa went on to add two more before the break. Darren Bent scored his second goal in the 36th minute and Heskey pounced with a shot that had deflected off the post in the 39th minute.
Walsall made four changes at half time which included new Goalkeeper David Grof. He looks set to could provide some much needed competition for Super Jimmy Walker with some top notch saves throughout the second half.
Aston Villa made most of the noteworthy chances throughout the second half and the scoreline could have been a lot worse if it wasn`t for David Grof`s heroics. In the 60th minute The Saddlers made 3 more substitutions which Andy Butler, trialist Anton Peterlin and Alex Nicholls replaced Manny Smith, Adam Chambers and Claude Gnakpa. Two more changes for Walsall came ten minutes later with George Bowerman replacing Ryan Jarvis and Jake Jones coming on for Lee Beevers.
In the 80th minute The Super Saddlers got a consolation goal which came from substitute George Bowerman who headed in a Walsall corner to an unenthusiastic cheer from a Walsall crowd, who were pretty quiet for most of the game.
The rest of the game saw itself out with no real excitement until local lad Richard Taundry had a cracking free kick beaten away from the top corner by the sub Villa goalkeeper Andy Marshall. Taundry deservedly got awarded man of the match which most people agreed he thoroughly deserved. He was strong and one of the best players on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.
This performance as with the Wolves one on Tuesday are nothing to be disheartened about, as any Saddlers fans who attended would agree on both occasions we worked hard and at times played some good football. The lads were overpowered by strong Premier League opposition but if the Ginger Mourinho can get us playing that way in the upcoming season, then it could be a very interesting season to be a Saddlers fan!
Up The Saddlers!
Follow Lee, our new match reporter on Twitter! @LeeHale88
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Date:Friday July 22 2011
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