Story of the season
The Banks Stadium
02/05/09 : 15:00
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.