Writer: Alsop Richards
Date:Saturday December 22 2007
The Banks' Stadium
22/12/07 : 15.00
Walsall moved into the top six to celebrate Christmas in a playoff spot. After the fantastic performance and effort put into the Leeds match, Walsall started like a house on fire and ripped to shreads what was a poor Millwall team who are heading for League Two.
With Fox suspended youngster Richard Taundry came in at right back, Millwall had a very attacking formation with Gary Alexander, Akinfenwa and Neil Harris up front in a three man pronged attack. Both sides started the match with intent but while Walsall looked calm and assured at the back, the Lions' defence was full of indecision and ball watching.
Football wise Walsall were playing classy football belonging to a stage above, while the Lions thumped the ball long which may explain why their away following was around fifty. It was so embarrassing for Millwall that the Police outnumbered them two to one.
Back to the football and Walsall were finding it hard to find the killer pass to unlock the shaky Lions defence. Sweeney playing against his former club was finding room and width down the left. Gary Alexander had a flicked header wide after a good Danny Senda cross. Soon afterwards the former West Ham player turned after been given too much space and fired just wide of the top corner.
Walsall finally took the lead on the half an hour mark, Ricketts' clever header found Mooney in space who lashed the ball past Lenny Pidgely. Millwall replied with clever footwork from the hardworking Akinfenwa but his drilled shot was just wide of the post with Clayton Ince beaten. Millwall looked like they could score but always looked likely to concede when under pressure.
Walsall didn't hold back and kept up the pressure and soon doubled their lead. A comical mishap between Bignot and Zak Whitebread was seized upon by Tommy Mooney who rounded the Keeper and finished low. Millwall's players' heads dropped and they were in clear peril. Despire increasing Saddlers pressure they could only add one more goal to the scoreboard in bizarre consequences. Micheal Ricketts' low cross was deflected into his own net by Neil Harris. Three nil and it looked like Walsall would be able to get a cricket score to help their goal difference record.
Walsall were so assured of the three points and testament to how poor Millwall are, the homeside decided to take off Michael Ricketts and replace him with promising youngster Alex Nicholls. Troy Denney and Alex Nicholls took it in turns to join Mooney up front in aide of getting the veteran to his hat trick.
A few minutes into the second half and a mistake once again in the Millwall defence was pounced upon by Denney but instead of shooting he fired across the goal to Mooney but the former Watford man wasn't expecting the ball.
Walsall came close on several occasions to adding to their score. Sweeney rising volley in a crowded penalty area was brilliantly parried over by Pidgeley for a corner.
Bradley who always gives a hundred percent, was soon left in agony after he challenging for a fifty fifty tackle and hurting his ankle. The young Welshman was replaced by Mr 'Sunshine' Sonko who took up the role in center midfield. Walsall with this subsitution lost a lot of their shape and Sonko struggled to get into the game. Five minutes from time the Gambian left Mooney fuming after he intercepted the ball and failed to lay the ball off, instead deciding to fire a poor low shot that Pidgeley in surprise flicked away for a corner.
Demontagnac came on for the hardworking Denney, but failed to make a telling impact on the match. Millwall were a shambles and Walsall will have been disappointed that despite outclassing their opponents they only registered three goals. The Saddlers' run continues and they must be clear favourites to beat Port Vale on Boxing Day in aid of keeping their place in the playoffs.
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Date:Saturday December 22 2007
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