Away the Saddlers lads

Looking back at the last week the Saddlers have come through two important away games with plenty to be encouraged by, writes Saddlers blogger Mark Jones.

Capital One Cup Second Round - Queens Park Rangers vs. Walsall - 28/08/12

Looking back at the last week the Saddlers have come through two important away games with plenty to be encouraged by, writes Saddlers blogger Mark Jones.

Simply to play a big club in a cup competition has unfortunately become a bit of a rarity these days, so it was important to enjoy the day out at the now implausibly wealthy QPR. However I was impressed by the way that we stuck to our task and tried to keep passing the ball.

Unfortunately for us times have changed. The last time a Walsall side played a Prem side in a cup match was at the same stage of the League Cup nine years ago at Bolton. Back then we faced a virtual reserve team and wasted the opportunity with an inept 3-1 defeat, despite being only a division below at the time.

Nowadays with the riches at the disposal of clubs like the R’s they can put out phenomenally strong sides. To highlight this take a look at their goalscorers on Tuesday – SWP is an England international who has won Premier league medals and moved for a fair amount of dosh over the years, the ever-impressive Bobby Zamora has also represented England and moved for big bucks whilst being a regular goalscorer in the top flight, Bosingwa’s last competitive game was the Champions League Final.

Despite the huge disadvantage and the enormous disparity in wages of the two sides, we gave a good account of ourselves. If Will Grigg’s header against the bar had gone in, if the rebound hadn’t taken an eternity to drop to the waiting Andy Butler, if Georgie Bowerman’s lob had caught out Rob Green then who knows what might have happened?

One thing was certain though, it was the Saddlers who won the vocal battle. Our support was superb, although I could’ve done without the Anton Ferdinand abuse and the comments about Ji-Sung Park (one of the most underrated Premiership players of the last few years IMO). However the lads got tremendous backing, the Dancing Kev Tribute Act is coming on a treat and of course everyone needs a nutter in the middle!

Nights out in the Cup are good, we should do this again sometime.

In the long term though, the bigger game was probably the one at Meadow Lane last Saturday. Even before Andy Butler’s fine late winner over ‘Big Club’ Notts it was clear that we’d done a good job. We’d comfortably contained what amounted to their attacking threat, stuck to the game plan, maintained our own shape and knocked the ball about well.

The decision to move to 4-4-2 for the last quarter of the game was bold but was the correct one and I always felt we were more likely to get a second than County were to equalise. For a team so highly-rated who have spent a fair amount, ‘big club’ Notts looked predictable, devoid of ideas and lacking in flair. In fact everything you’d expect of a side coached by Colin Lee. Tough luck.

Their manager Keith Curle (who someone I know started to refer to as Big Girl Keith Curle for no obvious reason many years ago) commented through gritted teeth afterwards about our professionalism and about how we had frustrated them, clearly forgetting his pre-match boasts about how ‘big club’ County knew all about our weaknesses and how they were going to do this, that and the other to us. Tough luck.

The big trick for Deano and the boys now is to build on these two positive awaydays.  I hope they stick to their guns, keep trying to play football and keep proving people wrong.

It’s exactly what Walsall FC has always been good at.

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Comments for: "Away the Saddlers lads"


That Bolton game 9 years ago was perhaps the last away cup tie against a prem side...we played the same team in the league cup at the banks's under Dicky Dosh when Martin Butler equalised and Mark Wright produced probably his best performance in a Walsall shirt.

Great result at Notts so big a club County and that gamble to go 4-4-2 should be taken more often, particularly at home. I think Grigg and Bowerman up front together would work well, they've come through the ranks together and with hemmings, Paterson and Flo providing creativity behind them it's starting to look promising....UTS!

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