Walsall - Story of the season
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Walsall 1 - Oldham Atheltic 2

The Banks Stadium

02/05/09 : 15:00

Attendance: 4807

Story of the season

It was the story of the season as Walsall closed the season in once again disappointing fashion. Walsall coulndn't have started better after taking the lead after thirty seconds. A through ball saw Alex Nicholls installed in a centre forward position beat Fleming to the ball, he drifted a cross to the back post and Denney nodded in.

Walsall continued to dominate the first half and Denney hit the crossbar from 25 yards after beating Fleming. Denney was struggling up front on his own as Nicholls fell back into a more midfield role. As the end of the half came to a close, Oldham came back into the match and Maher came close to restoring parity. But it was all level on the brink of half time - Zaaboub made a half attempt to challenge for the ball - Reuben Hazell floated the ball into the box - Maher flicked the ball towards the back post and two Oldham players were free in space. Unfortunately for the Saddlers Smalley controlled the ball on his chest and with all the time in the world fired past Ince.

Walsall started with attacking impetus in the second half but just didn't look like they were going to score. Rhys Weston couldn't shake off an injury so he was replaced by Paul Boertian, with Chris Palmer switching flanks. This meant that the Latics went from continually attacking our right flank in the first half to predominately attacking our left flank in the second half - I wonder if Chris Palmer comprehends in these moments that he's our weak link.

Both sides were looking toothless and it was hard to see where a winning goal was going to come from. Up stepped 17 year old substitute Paul Brooke minutes into coming on - the youngster takes a pass from Smalley and arrows the ball past Clayton Ince. Walsall never looked like they could score an equaliser and were desperately devoid of any ideas in the final third.

In looking forward to what will happen to Walsall next season it is important to embrace our glorious past. Ten years ago Walsall played Oldham Athletic with two games to go, they won a heated match three - one. The Saddlers won this match with goals from a released Grimsby Town winger, a one club local legend and a skinny striker born in Iceland. This team was gelled together by hardworking graft, youthful endeavour and experience from seasoned pros - what they fell short off in ability they made up in on all of the above. For me the current crop of Walsall players are a more talented bunch of individuals but they fail imensely in what the class of 1999 excelled in and that's what's been most disappointing and depressing about this season, I'm just glad it's over.

Star Player

Troy Denney - don't know if SpecSavers were giving out the man of the match award today but even Stevie Wonder would have struggled to give it to Richard Taundry. Troy took his goal well, came the closest to adding a second and his all round effort was applaudable. With Denney's ever improving self-confidence and his high workrate, the former builder will soon have higher league scouts flooding to the Banks', we could do with improved attendances.

Player Ratings

Clayton Ince

Overall solid - left badly exposed for both goals.

Rhy Weston

One fantastic block off the line - sadly had to come off at half time.

Chris Palmer

Abysmal, hopefully this will be the former Darlington man's last match for the club. Manages to turn attack into defence, poor passing and distribution is only matched by his inability to make a tackle. Though he was not helped by Zaaboud in the first half and Taundry in the second.

Anthony Gerrard

Gerrald won most things in the air, lost track of his player on the first Oldham goal - his frustration grew with his team mates in front of him - which cannot be good for team morale.

Emmanuel Smith

More and more is expected of the young man with his run in the team - fans seemingly forget he is of only tender years.

Stephen Hughes

Not the player he used to ball - didn't get on the ball enough and his legs clearly haven't got the energy they use to have.

Dwayne Mattis

The match passed him by - never got on the ball or broke down Oldham possession.

Richard Taundry

It showed that Taundry hasn't been in first team action for some time. Wanted far too long on the ball and far to often abandoned the right flank to drift into the middle and seemingly just get in the way. Needs to show more gusto going forward - he was unlucky not to score with an effort he had in the second half.

Sofiene Zaaboud

Never got into the match, never made one tackle and was constantly on the end of criticism from his own manager. His half challenge on Hazell made it far to easier for the former Villa man to get a cross in, which led to the equalised.

Alex Nicholls

Afternoon went down hill after thirty seconds - never lived up to his fantastic introduction to the match.

Troy Denney

Gave everything - badly missed another striker to play against - was left isolated up front with no service.

Paul Boertian

Did himself no favours by carelessly giving the ball away leading up to the Oldham winner. Also lacks any sort of confidence coming forward - which leads to his telegraphed passes either backwards to Gerrard or to the winger in front of him.

Mark Bradley

Couldn't get into the match - couldn't get the engine room of midfield working but neither could the more seasoned Mattis or Hughes.

Josh Craddock

Will get better with more first team experience - struggling to get to terms with the pace of the match and too often made safe passes instead of taking the Oldham defence on.

Manager Rating

No options available to Hutchings - he will be judged on the players and decisions he makes in the summer.

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The Journalist

Writer: jclements Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday May 2 2009

Time: 10:20PM


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