The Bescot Stadium
16/02/07 7.45 KO
Attendance: Just under 5,000
In a week where more questions were asked than a Mastermind tournament, Walsall had the opportunity to provide answers in front of the Sky camera's. Walsall took on a Lincoln City side, who though lacking in ability have been full of self-belief and confidence since the first kick of the season. Walsall lined up with Ince in goal, the back four of Pead, Westwood, Roper and Taylor. A midfield of Wright, Dobson, Keates and Fox, with the front pairing of Sam and Butler. The Lincoln side were missing Walsall reject Jamie Forrester from their frontline, Spencer Weir-Daley up front replacing him (Daley had previously played at the Bescot for Macclesfield and had looked decisively poor). This was a time for Walsall to react to their late failings against Hartlepool, match reports said they had played well and had been unlucky.
Walsall started brightly and looked to get Mark Wright into the game at any opportunity. Lincoln lined up with a formation to attack on the break with the pace of Amoo and Hughes on the break. One thing was certain in the opening moments, Michael Dobson had apparently failed to bring his match day boots as he misplaced pass after pass. On this note maybe I should introduce the first goal, Dobson dwelling on the ball and giving it away, a through ball to Weir-Daley who fired expertly off the inside of the far post. Assist number one of the match for our skipper.
The much criticised Walsall fans saw it as a chance to get behind the team and fired up with charges of encouragement. They were rewarded a minute later as Keates flicked on a pass to Sam who swivelled fast and fired past Marriott. Bescot breathed a hugh sigh of relief at the quick levelling of terms.
Walsall continued to press the game but were lacking in confidence in the final third of the pitch. The Walsall defence had looked troubled at the back with the constant foul play of Stallard and the pace of Daley. Westwood installed at centre-half looked half a yard slow and didn't exactly look confortable. As Walsall pressed for a first half lead, Dobson gave the ball away again and Lincoln broke away, Amoo clipped a pass over the head of the isolated Ian Roper for Weir-Daley to clinically finish again. Walsall did press again but were unable to break down a heavily packed Imps defence.
Walsall started the second half with Scott Dann replacing the poor Dobson and going to centre-half, Pead moved forward and Westwood went to right back. Walsall looked instantly more comfortable at the back and looked tight once again at the back. Walsall threatened and had much of the play and possession. But Lincoln were disciplined and always willing to attack on the break. Butler missed two chances and Dann fired straight into the Keeper's hands from close-range. If Walsall would have taken one of this chances and with the Bescot faithful fully behind them the eventual result would have been in doubt. In the end Walsall looked out-of-breath and though not lacking in hardwork and eventual grit they just couldn't get through. Par Cerdeqyst came on as Sam's hour came to an end and the Swede looks more and more out-of-place every week. The Swede drifts out of the game and doesn't seem willing to chase after loose balls, a touch of home-sickness and trip home, wouldn't surprise me. Darren Wrack came on for Fox and looked throughly unfit which he decided to for compensate by trying to push over and grab the shirt of any Lincoln player that came near him, giving needless freekicks away much to every one's frustration.
Did Walsall lose to the better team, were they unlucky or do we enter the circle of blame? Well no, Lincoln were an average League Two team who will ultimately fail once again in the play-offs if their lucky. So who is to blame, if you were to believe Richard Money it would be the supporters and not having the luck of the green. But to most people in and outside of the club its the gaffer. He constantly tinkles with the team, dropping players for seeminly no reason. Walsall's best players are the ones he acquired from the previously gaffer and his signings except for Martin Butler, are just not up for it when the going gets tough. Or just not up for it at all in the case of Tony Bedeau. Walsall haven't take three points off any of the top five teams this season, except for a poor Hartlepool side at the start of the season. The Walsall fans got truly behind the side and believe themselves to be the best supporters in the League and they are. The Walsall team is the best in the League but are lacking in belief, panche and style that is warranted by their ability. But were in a hole and the only way were going to get out of it, is by working together and supporting each other, it seems that Money could take somes tips of a certain Mr. Graydon. What are the Saddlers made of?