Attendance: 1,500 cc
There was no defence for the Saddlers as they once again constantly made defence errors, which effectively cost the Saddlers this game in the first ten minutes. Walsall managed to patch together a side, ravaged by injuries and international call ups, but fielded a strong back four and first choice goalkeeper. Fox and Wrack played centre midfield, Ismael and Hall on the flanks with Canerio and Butler up front. There met Bournemouth in the first round of the Johnstone Paint Trophy, with manager Richard Money proclaiming a possible future trip to Wembley on the horizon.
But that was all over in the opening stages, the Saddlers started like a bunch of strangers and nearly went behind in the opening minute when Joe Kuffour fired just wide of the post. The Saddlers still failed to wake up and the hosts took a deserved lead after three minutes. Rejected Walsall striker Lee Bradbury beating Clayton Ince at close range, in simple fashion, with time and space to pick his spot. Worse was to follow on eight minutes, an abysmal defensive header by Gerrard was took upon by Bradbury who fired between the legs of Ince for his second for his new club. This left the fifty brave battle weary away supporters in shock. To say the Saddlers were poor may be the understatement of the season, as this was perhaps the poorest/unprofessional start most likely in Walsall Football Club history.
Bournemouth, let's make no doubts about will struggle this season and they'll clearly find themselves in a dog fight to survive later on in the season, perhaps with ourselves but perhaps not. Walsall finally found some composure and gained some vital possession. But former dingle Darren Anderson and ex-Champions League player Paul Telfer, held possession well and were a calming influence on their collegues who could have been in a state of shock, for being gifted the game.
Martin Butler was working hard up front and Ismael tried to take the Cherries defence on his own, this was in sharp contrast to Claudio Canerio, who shows little appetite for the game. The Portugese player's performances are now fueling speculation, he may not be a footballer at all but a foreign impostor, on current evidence, the jury is still out. The limited touches he did get on the ball, were over stretches to give possession away.
A decisive moment in the half way point, saw an awful tackle from Paul Boertian, who could have easily been given a straight red, the referee must have felt sympathetic to a current predictment and gave the former Derby man a yellow card. Closing in on half time the Saddlers did come back into the match and Fox and Wrack were determined to get a hold of the centre of the park.
Walsall started the second half with the exciting Alex Nicholls replacing Canerio. He made an immediate impact and the Saddlers came close straight away. Bournemouth were happy to sit back and hit the away team on intermittent attacks, not looking so assured with sick note Darren Anderton taken out of the firing line. Then the ever industrious David McDermott replaced Paul Boertian, with Fox switching to left back. I'm a big fan of the dimunitive player, who seems to play with an attacking threat, pride in wearing the shirt and a zest for the game. He did he chances of starting against Vale no harm. The Saddlers held Bournemouth into their own half, seeking a way back but they weren't good enough to find a way through and the Cherries goal was barely threatened. The new Steve Bull Troy Denney came on for the very tired Paul Hall and though he was willing to chase and has raw energy/willingness, he couldn't change the game either.
A shocking first half performance from the Saddlers, that an improved second half couldn't rectify. Richard Money post match was quick to apologise to the visiting supporters, who made the long journey. Promising it would never happen again. Even the most opptimistic Walsall fan, knew we would struggle to find the net this season but the mounting defensive mistakes are quite shocking and it's not just about playing against a better calibre of striker. With questions raised about dismantling a Championship winning side, Saddlers from all around the world should unite around their manager. Richard Money is now being very open about missed signing during the summer who wanted to play for him, that weren't signed because of big wages and our so-called lack of financial clout. These include Jason Scotland, Adam Boyd, and Shane Tudor and for sure you just know there were more.
Richard Money spent the evening, patrolling his dug out area with his hands clasped behind his back. The question you have to ask is, was this his stance for growing angry, disbelief and frustration or was it an indication for what his Chairman's done to him this summer?
With growing worry and impatience at the Banks' Stadium, Walsall fans need to see the bigger picture and not make Jeff Bonser make another managerial scapegoat for his own financial shortcomings.