Walsall 3-1 Bournemouth - Report
The Saddlers extended their reign at the top of the League One form table with a 'more comfortable than it might have been' victory over our visitors from the south coast.
Our pace and movement caused The Cherries problems all afternoon, and the unease in their defence wasn't helped by David 'Calamity' James in their goal living up to his nickname with a far from convincing performance.
We took the lead directly from a Sam Mantom cross, which deceived everyone including the hapless goalkeeper.
He was also the villain of the piece for the first of our two penalties, although huge credit must go to Grigg who won it through sheer hard work and endeavour. With the board having already gone up for two minutes injury time, and us seeming determined to defend our single goal advantage, a hopeful clearance by Benning was won by Grigg when he really had no right to do so. Having beaten two defenders he drew the challenge from James and won the penalty he was looking for. The penalty was squeezed home underneath James and our half time lead was 2-0.
The second half saw Bournemouth come out all guns blazing, and you felt if we could weather the storm for 10 minutes we'd be ok. Unfortunately we didn't, and a well placed header on 50 minutes reduced the deficit to 2-1.
The blank strip blocking out Darlow's name on the back of our new keepers shirt earned comedy chants of 'Rectangle, Rectangle'. At least we didn't start singing the theme tune to Blankety Blank.
Brandy, having just been booked, then received a second yellow for a challenge I've been sent off for many times when playing Pro Evolution Soccer on the Xbox. Keeper makes a save, striker goes to tap it in, but because you have 'shoot' and 'slide tackle' set to the same button you accidentally flatten the opposition defender and get sent off. That's what Brandy did.
And yet it still wasn't the strangest incident of the match. That happened when Grigg was flattened on the right when about to cut in the area. Everyone in the ground knew it was a foul, including the Bournemouth defender who picked the ball up. However, the ref waved the foul away, before promptly awarding the Saddlers a second penalty for the defenders handball. If ever there was an advert for playing to the whistle, this was it.
Grigg despatched his second penalty in much more convincing fashion to make it 3-1, and then with 10 men we saw the game out with the utmost professionalism.
The only two negatives to come out of the game is the suspension Brandy must now serve, and the fear Deano might actually win Manager of the Month for January, which surely put paid to any hopes we have of a playoff push.