Walsall 1-1 Hartlepool - Report
I haven't read any of the other match reports about this game yet, but I suspect there'll be some views at both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand it was a game we absolutely dominated from start to finish, whilst at the same time was a game we never ever looked like winning.
This was my first game since the Swindon one, and we had a new loan goalkeeper in, whilst our new striker started on the bench.
We were managing to pepper the goal with shots that were flying wide, and getting plenty of balls in the box, but Flinders in the Hartlepool goal never really looked overworked. There were a few lucky bounces in the box that always seemed to be breaking Hartlepool's way to the point where, even after half an hour, you felt we just weren't gonna score.
Suddenly though we had too as, in typical Walsall fashion we managed to throw away a position of promise by shooting ourselves in the foot. A shocking backpass from Hemmings sold the new keeper short, who ended up bringing him down for a penalty. No complaints, except from McCarey himself who was booked for dissent. He's young and mouthy in a way that suggests he may well have finished work on Saturday night and spent the evening dossing in a bus shelter with his mates, but maybe I'm being harsh.
Penalty dispatched, keeper went wrong way, 0-1. The half time stats showed we'd had 14 shots on goal to their 0, which considering they'd scored a penalty seemed strange, but it did emphasise our dominance.
In the second half it was more of the same, only now we had our new striker on the pitch...playing on the right wing, naturally. But we did force a leveller when Grigg had a left footed snap shot smartly stopped by Flinders, for Holden to smartly turn home the rebound. You'd have hoped it would have galvanised us into action but, barring a Hartlepool defender slicing a clearance over his own bar, and Brandy (MOTM) sliding one across the goal for nobody to tap in, we didn't really force their keeper into any major saves.
Make no mistake, Hartlepool are a poor side who if they play like that all season will go down. Unless we can start putting the ball in the net, we won't be too far ahead of them.