Well that’s not how it was supposed to happen
Walsall – always one of my favourite aways, and always one that I look out for when the fixture list comes out. We usually take quite a few (for us of course) we usually do ok there, and with the possible exception of the time when they bricked our supporters coach, they’re usually pretty good hosts. The sun was shining. It was relatively close, so we didn’t even need to leave home till gone 1 and even Mrs Brando seemed relaxed and happy and looking forward to the trip. Nothing could go wrong.
Except for the match of course.
It wasn’t a bad match to be honest – it was entertaining, if a little frustrating, but it wasn’t the feast of football that we’d like to become accustomed to, and that on occasions we look like we’re about to start delivering. We started brightly and had a few good chances early on, but it needs to be said that this is the best Walsall side I’ve seen in recent seasons, and they defended fantastically throughout the match. We had something like 20 shots, and while the keeper had to make a couple of saves, we really didn’t trouble him enough – everything we threw at them was blocked by a guy in a red shirt throwing himself in front of it.
We’re still working out our formation and I’m not sure Robinson knows what his best side is just yet, but I think we’re starting to settle as a team. It’s difficult not to be a little bit nervous at our lack of threat up front, but we’ll have to trust in Robbo – we scored loads of goals last season (more than at any time in our illustrious history 😉 ) and that was without the standard 20 goal a season striker, but it’s the lack of clinical finishing in matches like this that could prove to be critical come the end of the season.
Anyway, the best way to sum up the match is as follows:
- We huffed and puffed a lot but didn’t often look likely to score
- Even though we had loads of shots
- and hit the post
- The ref was, imho remarkably one-sided. We picked up five yellows and I’d suggest that most of those challenges wouldn’t have been worthy of a card in most matches, and it seemed to my admittedly biased eyes that similar if not worse challenges were going unpunished from the Saddlers
I’ve come away from the match nervous about Charlie McDonald’s state of mind – he looks nervous of the ball, and seems so scared of making a mistake that he’s playing like another midfielder, looking to create chances for others rather than looking to shoot. If we’re going to be playing with just the one up front, then he needs to get his confidence back before we play him again. This is one of the downsides to not having a reserve side anymore – we can’t stick him in the reserves until he’s got a few goals under his belt, so perhaps a stint out on loan to a lower division club might give him what he needs. It was a strange decision to bring Lowe off to replace him with Charlie in a like for like swap – I’d have rather we switched to 4-4-2 at that point and played them both together, or brought Jabo on – he’s got a good record against Walsall, so I was surprised he didn’t get on the pitch. It was really only once we switched to 4-4-2 that we started to look like scoring, and that was primarily due to Alan Smith throwing himself into everything like a madman.
On a more positive note, I’ve come away from this match recognising David Martin for the genuine entertainer that he is – his walkabout in the first-half was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in years topped only by the sheepish grin he had on his face when the danger had passed. The fact that he did it again in the second-half, albeit less dramatically, makes him all the more special. With him and Jimmy Bullard together in the squad, we’re looking good for the season :-).
Things I noticed this week:
- The hill up to the away carpark is looking tatty – I have no idea why this is relevant
- Something really upset my stomach this weekend, and I’ve got the pre-kickoff pasty as a prime suspect
- Robinson needs to learn to shut up about referees – they’re hardly going to be looking to give us the benefit of the doubt in any situation if he’s off calling them all bastards at the end of each match
- David Martin is a comedy genius
- I love the Walsall accent
- The guys in the programme aren’t as funny when they’re not taking the piss out of us
We should be looking to pick up points in matches like these, but a much improved Walsall side deserved the points. Bring on Yeovil.