Writer: Dan Malin
Date:Saturday October 15 2011
I am pleased to inform you all that I have finally answered an age-old riddle that I just made up: when are 10 men better than 11? The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is when the 11 men are wearing Preston North End shirts.
The northerners visited our humble fortress fully expecting to beat us and there was a wonderful satisfaction in the fact that they did not have a notable shot on goal. Their passing was excellent but they didn`t really go anywhere and, to be honest, I wasn`t all that impressed with them. Neil Mellor couldn`t hack it up against a dominant centre-half like our glorious captain and the lad up front with him; Jamie Proctor was a pointless thug who brought nothing to their attack. Behind them, to his credit, Paul Coutts really caused us some problems and, despite his temper, he looks a fine player. Other than him, Preston didn`t impress me at all and the game could just prove to be the turning point Deano has been looking for since the start of September.
For all their faults, we still took advantage of a poor display and Nicho looked absolutely superb. He will deservedly take the plaudits for an all-action display and superbly taken goal but you can`t underestimate the contribution of the other lads on the pitch. No one put in a bad shift but there are those in the team who stood out above the rest and, other than Nicholls, the man who stuck out for me was super Adam Chambers. You can`t under-estimate the aura the man carries on a football pitch and he was absolutely outstanding today. As well as delighting the faithful by nobbling Neil Mellor, he won everything in the middle and worked himself down to the Walsall-tattooed bones that we all know lie below the perfect surface of our hero. He popped up everywhere to the point I quite clearly heard Preston`s left-back, Paul Parry, shout "F*&k`s sake he`s everywhere" to the centre-half next to him as Chambo won the ball on the edge of our area for at least the 62nd time in the game. I`m getting a little sick of doing it but I have to give Butler and Manny their dues because they do an incredible job week after week and it is pretty much a given that those 2 will give opposition forwards a frustrating afternoon every single game. The two lads were solid at centre-half today and Mellor and Proctor seemed to have no ideas. Admittedly that might be because, between them, the two Preston lads have the mental capacity of 4 carrots and a banana but, more likely, it was because of Butler and Manny`s readiness to put their boot through man and ball every time the chance presented itself.
I backed optimism in the preview and optimism most certainly prevailed in our unlikeliest of victories. It is questionable whether anyone else on the pitch really believed Walsall could win but Alex Nicholls certainly knew that we would run out victorious and what a way to win a game. The young man has a massive, massive game against Tranmere next week because that will be the test of his new found form but I have no doubt that my old school-mate will come through for the super Saddlers yet again. He was absolutely inspired today and he`s finally displaying the kind of form we all know he`s capable of. It is our responsibility to push on from here and go on a good run but October has proven to be a very fruitful month so let`s keep it up in Liverpool next week and let`s just hope Nicho keeps firing on all cylinders. Come on you Reds!!
Date:Saturday October 15 2011
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