Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Monday January 15 2007
Attendance: Just under 5,000
The Butler served up what some would call a professional three points, as the toothless Mariners came to the Bescot Stadium. Walsall welcomed back Alan Buckley and Stuart Watkiss back to a club they both served so well. Though I remembering being at Grimsby at the start of the season and reading a local paper, where Watkiss felt that Walsall were early runners but Grimsby would ultimately win the league. Forget the fortune-telling Stuart you're as reliable as Mystic Meg. In truth Walsall were in control from start to finish of the match.
The Saddlers started brightly on the attack, maybe trying to prove themselves to the rest of the country that despite much criticism they're the best club in League One, I mean does a league table ever lie? But they had struggled before in front of the Sky Camera's when they played basement Macclesfield. Walsall made one enforced change from their perfect performance at London Road two weeks ago, Dean Keates coming in for the suspended Daniel Fox. Grimsby had failed to win or score in their last five matches and the player Walsall fans love to hate; Mr. Rankin was absent, so an easy Walsall win then?
Well yes, the best Grimsy could seemingly hope for was a scoreless draw. It was soon apparent that the Grimsby team would find it hard to score on Broad Street on a Saturday night, let alone at the meanest defence in the League. A couple of minutes in it was also apparent that they couldn't defend much better either, Dobson floating a freekick to the free Dann whose backwards header was clawed out by Phil Barnes. Walsall did allow Grimsby to get a foot into the game only for Sam to chase a lost cause, win the ball and then break away and put a perfect cross in for Butler to score. Yes that's right Martin Butler; the guy who hadn't scored in seventeen matches, the relief was paramount as he celebrated with his teammates. Walsall had chances to extend their lead, but looked comfortable with their one goal lead which they easily held into half-time.
Walsall started the second-half unusually attacking the William Sharp Stand but they again went back to taking the game to Grimsby. If Walsall could double their lead they might be likely to hand out a drumming, but the goal failed to come. With only a one-nil lead, Grimsby always had a way back into the game, saying that, an equaliser may have been a lot easier if they would have ventured into our half. Yes it is nice to play pretty football on the half-way line but it's not really going to get you a goal. Dickie Dosh brought on the exciting new signing of Par Cederqvist for the impressive Hector Sam. The Swede had an excellent first touch, looked match fit, read the game well and seemed to contain a frigtening turn of pace. He is one of those rare things seen at Bescot Stadium, a home striker who actually likes to hang around the opposition's penalty area; hooray! It was the Big Swede who had a hand in Walsall's second goal that killed off the match, Mark Wright swinging in a cross that was flicked towards goal by Par, Barnes failed to hold on and Butler followed up to score.
The match was over and Walsall except for the wrong final ball could have won by more. Grimsby still failed to attack and Buckley decided to bring on some of his younger squad players, giving them some experience so they would be ready for Conference Football next season maybe? Par had a header at the end that he put over and it was a shame he didn't manage to score on his debut. But I've got the feeling that the Siggi lookout will be our top scorer by the end of the season.
There were many mumbling through the match about a possible return of James Walker if Walsall were to gain promotion. That was added some substance by Radio W.M. but without a reputable source the story could be utterly fairtytale. The one dissappointment for me with the match was once again the performance of the extremely frustrating Mark Wright, which got even worse when Par came on because the guy lookes like he likes a good cross. Wright has little confidence and even more apparent is he clearly doesn't seem to know what to do with the ball. If something does work for the winger he is more surprised than anybody else. Such promise from a clearly talented player but such little end result, what a shame.
There are going to be a lot harder matches between now and the end of the season; like Mansfield at Field Mill on Saturday.
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Date:Monday January 15 2007
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