Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Saturday August 16 2008
The Banks' stadium
Walsall registered their first win of the season but there will be very few positives to take out of the match for manager Jimmy Mullen. Marco Reich came in for the supended Micheal Ricketts, Smith for the injured Roberts and Boertian for youngster Netan Sansara.
It was a dreadful start for the Saddlers as the Iron took the lead, Smith who was dreadful against Darlington on Tuesday failed to even try and block a cross to the back post and Boertian returning after so long, ball watched, leading to Scunthorpe's new recruit Gary Thompson heading the ball past the stranded Clayton Ince. Absolutely awful defending which seemed to belong more to park pitches than League One.
Walsall came back strong from their early set back but with Hughes and Taundry in each other's way and with no lack of creativity it seemed it would be a hard task. But they were level twelve minutes into the match, a bouncing ball was poorly dealt with by the debutating David Mirfin in the Iron defence and the ever willing Jabo Ibhere was through on goal. Mirfin decided to pull back the former Orient striker and paid the consequences as he was shown a straight red.
Mirfin's decision was made even poorer when Marco Reich took the subsequent free kick and curled the bal into the right hand top corner. A touch of class from the one time German international. Walsall played nice football for the remainder of the half and Nicholls had two good chances but Scunthorpe deployed two banks of four in front of their goal.
The second half was the same story as Walsall had nearly all the possession but failed to break through the Iron defence. They had a couple of chances but too many times they failed to have enough players in the box and they were sorely missing the box to box play of Dwayne Mattis. With Lillis and the rest of the Scunthorpe team time wasting it seemed the Saddlers would miss out on a vital two points.
But at the fans request and demand Mullen finally introduced Ismaeel Demontagnac and the youngster played a part in the play to the winner. After a smart one two the winger played in Ibhere who looked suspiciously offside but after missing an earlier easy header the front man made no mistake passing the ball past Lillis and into the net.
Walsall now in front seemed to have some urgency to their play and tried to get the third on the break while the Iron threw players forward. The Saddlers never looked like conceding and in truth Clayton Ince never managed a save all match.
What was glaring obvious is the lack of match sharpness from some of the players. Stephen Hughes looks like he needs a series of matches to be ready and is a couple of yards to slow. Richard Taundry looks like a poor central midfielder as he needs too much time on the ball and when he does he offers little but to pass the ball sideways. Marco Reich also seems to be struggling even though he played the full ninety. Smith at the back now plays with an air of arrogance and naviety demanding too much time on the ball and was constantly finding touch with his long passes out to Sofiane Zaroube on the wing. It's clear that Mullen may have to bring in another center half as cover unless Smith has an upturn in form, he seems a shadow of the player who stepped in at the end of the Championship winning season.
The only highlight was Jabo Ibhere who played up front on his own, he never gave up a lost cause and never stopped working. Even when lazy balls were played in his direction but not to his feet did he complain, which is so refreshing after the antics of former Skipper Tommy Mooney last season.
Scunthorpe were a poor side who most likely will be struggling towards the bottom end of the league than the top that most have predicted. It's difficult to imagine them plying their trade in the Championship last season and their cause was somewhat aided by the sending off as they became resolute to play for a point. It was dissappointing to see the lack of discipline in the team needless bookings were given which eventually will add up to suspensions.
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Date:Saturday August 16 2008
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