The Pirelli Stadium
Walsall came from behind to gain an unconvincing win against Burton Albion of the Conference. Walsall started with an unorthodox line up, with Daniel Fox fitting into centre midfield, Tommy Mooney wide left (?)with Butler and Canerio up front.
The Saddlers started brightly and winger Eddie Sonko took the game to the opposition. But the Brewers got to grips with the game and their higher oppositon and took the lead.
A corner was lined up, with nobody picking up the fullback who'd come close to receive a short pass. The Referee blowed for pushing in the area and Walsall had a second chance to close down, they once again failed to pick up the full back who crossed for the tricky Daryll Clare to burst into the box and send a powerful downwards header into the corner of the net. The Walsall fans behind the goal were in a frenzy as the defence which had been record breaking last season were showing wide cracks that were being punished by non-league oppositon.
Eddie Sonko having picked up a knock was replaced by veteran Paul Hall. Walsall were starting to dominate, Fox was particulary impressive with Dobson in midfield but Butler and Canerio were failing to gel upfront. The Saddlers looked toothless. It was a moment of inspiration that got the Saddlers back in the game. Scott Dann broke up a Brewers attack in front of his own area, burst forward, dribbled past a couple of defenders and played the ball right to Hall. The former Jamaican international fed the ball back into the path of the onrushing Dann who raced on to ruthlessly and calmly place the ball past Kevin Poole. A moment of true quality which is another indicator that Zi-Dann won't be at the Bank's Stadium for long.
Walsall got to half time all square with both sides being unable to break each other down. Walsall looked much more solid towards the end of the half and were getting to grips with Clare. But Canerio looks like he is going to need a lot of time to adjust to the English game, he has two bad habits, constantly being offside and playing the player instead of the ball, when the ball is thumped towards him. It was no surpirse when he was replaced by Ishmale at half time, with Mooney moving up front with Butler.
Walsall in the second half looked far more solid and Butler started to run the channels, offcourse Walsall always look much more threatening when Ismael is on the pitch and he tormented the non-league defenders. The Saddlers took the lead midway in the half as a well crafted ball was drifted over the Brewers defence by Darren Wrack, Butler got onto the end of the pass, headed down into his path, held off a defenders challenge and fired low into the net. Butler who had failed miserably twice at Aggborough in midweek, hopeful has gained valuable confidence going into the season opener against Carlisle. Walsall could have had more, Ismael ripped through the home defence and played an acute pass to Mooney but the pass forced the veteran wide, with the angle against him, he fired across the goal. Walsall looked sharp on the break, with Butler, Mooney, Hall and Ismael always ready to break away and finish the game off.
Burton brought on Keith Gilroy who tormented Darren Wrack, beating Wracky every time he pulled the ball back late on, the ball got caught under Clare's foot and once he gained them, Ince went down to make a fine save. With Wrack struggling Mark Bradley came on and looked established at right back, giving the Saddlers a solid back four. The Saddlers kept the ball well in the closing stages and closed the game out.
There was an exceptional away following from the Saddlers, who never fail to show their committment to the cause. Wrack looked frail once he was set against a quality winger and the Villa match will prove testing. The Walsall midfield was far more orgainised with Daniel Fox in midfield, he has a wide range of passing and the ability to get a shot off when in an attacking position.
But the Saddlers were well below par, making too many mistakes, they're going to have to improve if they're to get the season off to a flier. The Bank's Stadium on Tuesday is when the starting eleven with be fixed, so all will be looking to impress.