Mooney at the double
The Banks' Stadium
It was a milestone afternoon for Tommy Mooney as he notched his two hundreth goal of his career and then notched up another after the break, as Walsall cruised to victory.
For Cheltenham it was the first match of being in permanent charge for ex-Wolves player Keith Downing after John Ward had left for Carlisle. Walsall included returning local striker Michael Ricketts who on his first debut for the club scored with his first touch, with Richard Money declaring he was the right manager to get the best out of the nomadic striker. It was Ismael Demontagnac who missed out, with Money naming much the same side that had been so poor against Bournemouth.
The Saddlers started brightly, with Ricketts and Mooney showing an instant relationship in their play together. It was two clever touches from the strikers that led to Mark Bradley running in on goal and about to pull the trigger for one nil. Unfortunately for the young Welsh man he was denied his third goal of the season by on loan Charlton midfielder Dean Sinclair who pulled him back. But the Referee was well placed and gave the penalty kick straight away, though disappointingly the referee failed to send off the midfield for denying the obvious goal scoring opportunity.
Mooney stepped up knowing if he found the net he'd pass his own personal milestone. Left footed he fired the ball into the bottom right hand corner despite the best efforts of Shane Higgs in the Cheltenham goal. Mooney ran off to be greeted by manager Money who came onto the pitch to hug and congratulate his Captain Marvel. It was quite clear now that Cheltenham were a poor side, though they had much possession they failed to even come close to penetrating the Walsall defence. While the Saddlers showed impressive link up play in all areas of the field.
Michael Ricketts was putting in his all, he showed an impressive work rate and was always willing to track back in aid to help his defence. The former England International was unfortunate not to open his Walsall account on the half hour mark. Darren Wrack on the wing picked him out but his low shot towards the bottom corner was brilliantly saved by Higgs. Soon after Ricketts hit the cross bar as his towering header bounced back just on the right side of the goal line for the travelling faithful. The Saddlers went into half time knowing they should have taken more for all their impressive attacking play. But hand in hand with that they knew that one moment of missed concentration in the second half could see their lead vanish and with it a valuable two points.
Cheltenham started the second half brightly with Ashley Vincent coming on for Reid. It was Vincent who missed a glorious chance to equalise firing over the bar from five yards, but the striker was offside anyway. Ricketts then had a one on one but his chip to goal was superbly tipped over by Higgs. Soon afterwards it was the Saddlers who finished the game off, Sonko's pinpoint cross into the path of Ricketts and Bradley was missed by both, the ball arrived at the feet of veteran Mooney who picked his spot and chipped the ball in off the right hand corner of the goal. If this goal would have happened in any of Europe's top divisons it would have been viewed for surplus weeks to come, it was just fantastic.
That saw the end of the weak Cheltenham challenge who still at this moment had failed to manage a shot, let alone trouble Ince. Ricketts came off to be replaced by youngster Denney. It was the young man who nearly had a hand in a third Walsall goal, Fox's cross was flicked on by Denney, it was meant for Bradley but Mooney sensing a hat trick flicked the ball towards goal, just missing. No complaints from Bradley who'd failed to make Mooney aware of his presence. Mooney then flicked another chance wide before being subbed after suffering from cramp, he was replaced by Demontagnac, lapping up his standing ovation that included the fans in the away end. It was in stoppage time that Cheltenham managed their first shot on target. Ince came and flapped for the ball, Adam Connelly put the rolling ball against the base of the post.
Overall a conprehensive two nil victory for the Saddlers, who could only beat what was put in front of them. Cheltenham look to be heading out of the divison quickly and this result sees them rooted to the bottom of the table, after Bourenmouth won. Shrewsbury Town will be a tougher challenge next Saturday, let alone the trip to high flying Brighton Hove Albion on Tuesday, let's hope a new run can be begin on this home victory.