Walsall 0-1 Crewe Alexandra
18/10/2014 - 15:00
Crewe claimed their first away win, and their first clean sheet of the season as the Saddlers threw in the sort of inept, impotent, hopeless performance that is becoming all too regular of late; and got just the reward it deserved from a poor game between two equally rubbish sides.
Dean Smith, who is clearly struggling to find and/or field his best XI, made another five changes today as Ben Purkiss, James Chambers, Andy Taylor, Reece Flanagan and Romaine Sawyers all returned to the starting line-up. It meant only Andy Butler, who goes back to Sheffield United after today, was the only person who started in the back four at Oldham and again today. To be fair we did look more solid, especially in the full back areas following the removal of James O`Connor, and even a clearly below par Taylor had a much better game at left back than Benning did last week.
The visitors started the brighter and put a couple of half chances over, while for the Saddlers, Benning fired over, then screwed a shot wide, and Andy Taylor saw a goal bound effort deflect wide off Jordan Cook. There was almost a calamitous moment for Richard O`Donnell when he spilled a routine shot, but managed to recover it before it had chance to spin over the line. However shots on target, as is so often the case, were at a premium.
The second half wasn`t much better, and the game look destined to end 0-0. Flanagan, who looks composed when he has five yards of space on the ball, continues to immediately disappear up his own backside the second an opposition player runs anywhere near him. I`m not sure if he`s scared, of just weak, but either way Smith runs the risk of ruining a young lad with decent potential if he continues to over expose him to the first team before he`s ready, as the moronic sarcastic cheering proved when he was substituted. However, when Flanagan and Benning did make way for Billy Clifford and Mathieu Manset respectively, you did at least get the feeling we now had the team on the pitch which probably should have started the match.
Manset was hassling the Crewe back line and, even though he continues to look shockingly unfit, was proving a more mobile unit than Cook was, which appropriately sums up Cook`s contribution. Forde was anonymous for much of the game too and Sawyers again looked our best attacking player; although I still don`t think I`ve seen anyone from midfield run beyond our main striker all season.
With the game fizzling out into a drab draw, Crewe performed a smash and grab job with six minutes remaining. A corner from the left was not dealt with properly and, after Sawyers missed his kick, Adam Dugdale smashed home through O`Donnell`s legs from six yards out.
Our game can best be summed up by the fact that as the final whistle went at the end of four minutes of injury time we were in the middle of a passing move that had seen at least 8 or 9 passes, but hadn`t yet seen us cross the halfway line. The boos that greeted the games closure were, for once, totally utterly and justified.