Writer: Dan Malin
Date:Sunday August 7 2011
What an absolute treat that was! If, like me, you attending yesterday`s festivities then you will probably still have a massive grin on your face. A childish laugh seeps out every time I think of the moment Sir Adam Chambers drew back his laser-guided right boot and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top-left hand corner. A menacing smirk finds its way onto my face whenever I think about the very same Adam Chambers scuffling with his former captain just two minutes into his league debut as a Saddler. Most importantly of all, I can`t help but allow that massive grin I talked about spread across my face when I think about the roar that accompanied the final whistle. Football`s back and my God didn`t we look good.
As well as Chambers, the other 13 men who played yesterday put in a brilliant performance. In the very same fixture last season, we got beat 2-0 and looked about as threatening as a Victoria Sponge. This time, however, our meeting with the O`s couldn`t have been more different. Sleek, exciting, fast-paced, solid, well-drilled. That is a list of words that we rarely associate with our Walsall team but that is just how I`d describe our performance.
The spine of the team looks the strongest it`s been for as long as I can remember and the two centre midfielders, Taundry and Chambers, will be looking to build on an impressive start to their pairing in the middle. Butler and Lancashire looked solid and hopefully this is the season Olly really steps up and shows why he deserves to keep Manny Smith out the team because, in the past, I have been able to find little reasoning behind keeping Smith on the bench. Up front you have the experienced, consistent work-horse that is Jon Macken paired with the youthful promise of Will Grigg and their work will not get the recognition it deserves. Neither of them are really poachers who are going to play off the last man with blistering pace but what they both offer is unselfish, team play. They are always looking to get the midfield involved and with their presence up front it will be interesting to see how many teams can handle the physical influence we now possess all over the pitch. Speaking of physical influence, doesn`t Gnakpa look an absolute monster? Not the traditional winger in any sense of the term but, with his strength and pace, I shudder to think what must go through a left-back`s head when they know that they have been targeted by the angry-looking SCUD missile that is our new French winger. Personally, I love him.
I know that we`ll all bang on about it for a long time to come but a special mention has to be given to the goal. If anyone can think of a Walsall goal more deserving of beating a player`s former team I`d like them to get in touch because it was an absolute screamer. I, personally, thought he`d blown it when he took a touch but he generated so much power out of, seemingly, nowhere and the 25 yards the ball covered after exploding off his boot may as well have been 4 inches. Poor Lee Butcher had absolutely no chance and the goal of the season competition may as well be closed now. Chambers, for me, was the best player on the pitch and it is refreshing to see such a passion and hunger in a pair of legs. He, along with Taundry, provided a dynamic engine-room and to say he was everywhere yesterday would be an understatement. He thoroughly deserved his goal and thoroughly deserves the 2000 fans that will have Chambers printed proudly on their back by the Middlesbrough game on Tuesday.
I said 2-1 with Gnakpa and Macken to score and, to be fair, I was a mile out but I have rarely been so glad to be proved wrong. However, we can`t get too ahead of ourselves and we have to remember it was only one game and we have to reproduce that kind of performance another 45 times if we want to live up to Deano`s expectations but let`s just enjoy the feeling of waking up on a Sunday, being able to look forward to the next game with schoolboy excitement. Bring on the play-offs!
Date:Sunday August 7 2011
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