Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Saturday August 25 2007
The Bank's Stadium
Walsall ended a tragic week at the Bank's Stadium with a throughly devasting defeat against promotion chasing Swansea City. What was witnessed by the Saddlers faithful was the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Saddlers had Tommy Mooney missing, with Martin Butler and Ismael Demontagnac coming in for Canerio. Rhys Weston continued at right back with Darren Wrack playing out on the right wing.
Walsall started brightly, with Ismael Demontagnac running the show. The Swansea defenders wanted time on the ball, but that was something that the dimunitive winger was not going to allow to happen. It was Demontagnac that started the play that lead to Walsall's first goal, he took possession over, released Hall on the right, whose deflected cross fell in the path of the returning Butler who forced the ball home from close range. It was just what the Saddlers deserved for the their bright start.
The game became stretched afterwards as the Swans fought to get back into the game. Swansea were physical in their play and were always trying to keep the ball moving in true Robert Martinez style. The Referee struggled, making some bizarre decisions and failing to show any form of consistency. The visitors had their luck and fortunately equalised on twelve minutes. Chubby scouse Winger Paul Robinson drifted in from the left and fired harmlessly towards goal but he's shot got a nasty deflection of Jason Scotland and bobbled into the net.
If Lawrie Sanchez is still fuming about Fulham's late goal against Middlesbrough then he must understand the Saddlers frustration to the second goal by the Swans. Jason Scotland was given to much time, he twisted and turned and fired a low shot against the post, the ball hit the sprawling Ince and bounced towards the goal. But much to the Saddlers relief Paul Boertian cleared the ball off the line, to save the day. The Referee, standing close by was shaking his head but the Linesman flagged for a goal to everyone's disbelief. The Referee wasn't strong enough to over rule the decision and the Saddlers found themselves unluckily behind.
The Saddlers impressive, came back strong, they had their own effort cleared off the line and hit the post. The Swans with the dangerous dwarf Leon Britain were always threatening on the break but it was the Saddlers who looked more likely to get a goal. The Saddlers went into half time, behind and angry with the officials.
The Saddlers came out early for the second half and continued to threaten the visitors goal. Butler had a good chance early on and Walsall won a number of set pieces. Manager Richard Money then went onto jump the gun, bringing off hardworking Michael Dobson and replacing him with the everwilling Eddy Sonko. Darren Wrack came into central midfield to take his place, but the Saddlers lost their central commander and never recovered. Darren Wrack, now playing in the pivotal midfield role lead to.
The game was over in the sixty sixth minute, Darren Wrack had time and space. He decided to spread the play over to the right flank and to Rhys Weston but his pass was mishit it fell to the feet of speedy Darryl Duff who ran in on goal. Walsall veteran Roper charged back and fouled the young Scot, a proffessional foul and a red card, one of the only decisions the Referee got correct. Roper was clapped off the pitch and it was clearly Wrack fault and not his own. Robinson stepped up, to give Clayton Ince no chance and the game was settled.
It must be said the Saddlers never gave up on the game and had numerous chances at the end to get goals. Butler heading down into the keepers arms when he had more time than he thought. An Ismael corner was brilliantly scissor kicked towards the goal by Sonko (goal of the season) but it hit a Swansea defender on the line. But the Saddlers were left tired and with only a point on the table to show after three matches, down but hopefully not out.
The Walsall fans need to have patience as the team adjust to playing a higher level. Confidence seems down, but overall play is good, except for clearing being a mess positional in midfield. Danny Sonner's contributions are being more criticised every week as the fans seek an escape goat to take the flak. It's clear this is a review period for the manager Richard Money and it would be stunning if the Manager didn't bring in at least one new face before the August deadline. The Gaffer has any excellent reputation but it's now time for him to prove himself again, just like he did last season and earn his money. But Saddlers fans are like me and have every faith that their Manager will in the end get everything right and he will. The only way is up the Saddlers now.
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Date:Saturday August 25 2007
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