Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Wednesday December 5 2007
The Banks' Stadium
Football is a game of two halves.... you have to take your chances...all the cliches fell into place as the Saddlers clinched a vital three points against a strong Forest side.
The Saddlers brought back Peter Sweeney for Ismael Demontagnac, but strangerly he took up the right wing with Darren Wrack alternating with Bradley and playing the hole in front of the back four. Forest had a compact midfield which soon went about dominanting proceedings.
This Walsall side is made of stubborness and on this occasion luck as the misfiring Forest side missed chance after chance with the goal lurking. For the Saddlers it was an evening of first half struggle as their midfield failed to take shape and Sonko offered little out on the flank, Mooney and Ricketts were left isolated up front. Tyson imparticulary missed two glorious chances, the last chance was followed by a thug in the Floors To Go Lower Stand throwing a pie at the player, he was instantly ejected out by the stewards. So Walsall went in at half time in a match where chances were created and spurned in such fashion they couldn't have complained if they'd been four goals down.
Walsall in the second half, were set on ruffling the feathers of their east midlands rivals. Forest were being charged down, pressuried on the ball and made to earn their high wages. It was close pressure that led to the only goal of the game when former Dingle Sam Clingan's back header was antcipated by Ricketts who shot low and forced the ball underneath the body of former Premiership goalkeeper Paul Smith. One nil to the Saddlers and Forest didn't like it.
Walsall adapted to a defensive outlook and tried to attack Forest on the break. The Saddlers' team were a picture of concentration as they were determined not to give a soft goal away, the whole back four were immense. Darren Wrack for the first time since evolving into an anchor midfielder got stuck in with real passion and got some scrapes and bruises for the cause in the second half. Commons looked to find the net in his custom fashion outside of the box but his luck was out.
It was edgy and nervous until the end when the Saddlers started to get forward on the break to finish the game off. Fox brilliantly intercepted the ball, playing with his iconic Butcher bandage across his head, and ran for goal from his own box only for his side rule pass to Ricketts to be just out of reach. Ricketts playing his best game in a Saddlers shirt in his second stint thought he'd finished the game off with minutes to pair. The ball was put over the top, Ricketts ran onto it and as it bounced high, Smith bottled it, Ricketts headed the ball over him but the striker was given offside and not penalised for holding down the Keeper as many in the crowd thought.
Ricketts went on to bend the ball just the wrong side of the bar, Sweeney's run and dribble finished with him just missing the top corner and Walsall killed the game off with a series of throw ins. As the final whistle blew Walsall fans jumped for joy, though they'd been dominated it was a great underdog performance and they landed their own sucker punch to win the match. Also it was also notworthy that at no point in the second half was the Walsall goal under threat or did Ince make a save in the whole match.
Money was quick to apply that the team was punching above its weight, with a bunch of young hardworking players who are willing to fight for each other. If Walsall want to be serious play-off contenders they are going to need to reinforce in January to strengthend their bid.
Date:Wednesday December 5 2007
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