Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Saturday March 31 2007
The Bescot Stadium
A famous footballer once said if we didn't drink our milk, we would only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley. So don't forget a glass of that white stuff before going to bed tonight. What happened on Saturday 31st was a good team played appalling and a very poor team upped their game as they visited one of the big boys in the division. All in all it was a day of frayed nerves of the Saddlers faithful but at this time of season it is only results that matter.
Walsall came into this match knowing they had gone eight points behind Hartlepool after their win on Friday. Walsall gave a home debut to Trevor Benjamin. The match started slowly with both sides failing to show a cutting edge. Walsall were the more willing and Kevin Harper collected a clever pass by Martin Butler and fired the Saddlers into the lead.
The Saddlers looked comfortable and ready to take their opponents to the sword and get the game finished up before half time. But four minutes later a hopeful ball pumped forward by Stanley's defence was taken on by Paul Mullin who took advantage of Ince's indecision in coming out to fire past the giant Tobago Goalkeeper. Fingers were pointed, Westwood and Gerrard began their uneasy partnership at the back and Walsall missed rookie's Scott Dann's calming influence at the back. The home side pushed for a goal before half time but Stanley who also threatened on the break held firm.
The second half started with both teams failing to take the intiative but both seemed to know the stakes and took turns in threatening each other's goal in a need for points. At this point it was apparent that Trevor Benjamin was having a lover's tiff with Martin Butler as they once again failed to fire up their romance they shared at the Abbey Stadium. The strikers never got twenty feet near each other and failed to show any link up play in their game, which will hopefully come. Hector Sam came on for the former Leicester City player after fifty six minutes. Sam drifted back to help the midfield, going deep to collect the ball and flick it onto Butler or spread play out onto the flanks.
But it was Accrington who took the lead near the hour mark, as Walsall failed to clear a deep cross to the back post and Robbie Williams headed home to the few away fans delight. The Saddlers were shell shocked, but even thoguh Robbie Williams had had his say it was Walsall who wanted to entertain ya. The Saddlers ploughed forward in desperation and hope to try and get back into the game.
Walsall did that in the seventy fifth minute when Butler took control of the ball on his chest but as took the ball he was scissor kicked in the chest by the high flying Edwards in the penalty area. The Referee was on site to point to the spot but Edwards should really have been sent off for violent conduct as his kick was on purposeful, dangerous and ever painful to Butler. The Ref gave Edwards the yellow and Keates kept his nerve to fire into the corner of the net. Walsall kept on coming forward and Wrack came on for the tired Cooper. The Saddlers kept on coming in desperation and with six minutes to go, Pead pulled inside the box and fired into the box hoping for his first goal of the season. The shot took a deflection and the misfiring Butler was their to help the ball into the top corner of the Stanley net. Stanley's heads fell to the ground as they mopped around feeling sorry for themselves.
Walsall decided their best form of defence was offence and continued to now attack Stanley on the break. Sam was particulary at his tormenting best as he looked to strech the away defence. Keates fired a free kick over the bar seconds after being announced the sponsors Man Of The Match. Stanley did press forward but when they did get high balls into the box, Westwood and Gerrard took no chances and sent the ball away.
The full time whistle blew and Walsall had put in one of their worst performances in recent weeks but had managed to come away with the right result. For the second time this season Stanley Manager John Coleman would have been left fuming after getting back into a match against an underperforming Saddlers only to lose the match in the closing moments. Stanley are one of the worst teams in our divison and most likely they will find themselves occupying the last two spots at the end of the season, hopefully. The finishing line is in sight but will Walsall hold their nerve as they will be facing sterner tests in the weeks to come?
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Date:Saturday March 31 2007
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