The big debate for Walsall after first defeat

We asked Express & Star readers for our 24:7 pull out their views on the big debate as Walsall's unbeaten start to the League One season comes to an end.

Walsall manager Dean Smith with first team coach Richard O'Kelly

Have your say on the pressing topic at the Banks's Stadium posed by our Saddlers correspondent Matthew Maher after they suffer their first defeat away at Brentford.

With Andy Taylor getting close to full fitness for Walsall, should he immediately replace Malvind Benning at left-back for the Saddlers?

Have your say on the issue and leave your comments below:

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Comments for: "The big debate for Walsall after first defeat"

Ken Brown( Supporter for 50 years )

The defeat at Brentford and probably more away games is going to be that there is no clinical finisher like Allan Clarke. Alan Buckley, Matty Fryatt for instance. It is all well and good playing this sexy football so to speak but if you haven`t got an end product you won`t win or even draw away games, which has been Walsall`s downfall over the past few seasons. So with the present strikeforce I can`t see us doing anything until a proven striker or one who can win you a match on his own is found. Surely to god Richard O'Kelly can see this as he used to be a striker,

lee crooke

yes andy taylor is a big miss for us at the moment. although malvind benning has done well and is certainly a player for the future, we are paying for his lack of experience at the moment. Taylor is more trustworthy in defensive situations and should be back in the team when fit. Mal Benning is not entirely to blame, his left side defensive partner is wayne hemmings and he too is not good enough defending..... he is too easily by passed by opponents and does not stand up and jockey players with the ball..... he must add this to his game if he wishes to progress as a player.


Malvind Benning has been playing well at left back and if selection was based purely on form then he should stay in the side. However Mal is still a youngster and may need to be taken out of the team to avoid burnout and manage the expectations of him as a player


I think Andy Taylor should come back into the team as I feel overall he is a better left back with a cool experienced head about him, as well as providing a little more offensively as he can run with the ball too. Taking nothing away from Mal either though, I just feel that it would also be better for his development if he wasn't in the firing line of division 1 football every Saturday Tuesday. Many of our younger and more promising talents like him have been shoe horned into the sides and almost ruined by the pressure and some of our mentally lacking supporters getting on their backs.


We lost a game, no need for changes. Lost 2 in 26 or around the 26 mark, benning has been playing well, if any change is made id drop westcarr and play lalkovic and sawyers or even sawyers and hewitt.


The start has been OK but that win against Tranmere has been put into some perspective now. Taylor has to come back in, although Mal B looks like he could be a good one in a year or so. Need a front man that can hold the ball up and let others play off him. Westcarr seems much better when he is behind the front striker. So annoying about the timing of the tribunal for the Grigg money. Also, very concerned about how much we may ultimately get.


Don't panic Mr Maher-ing!

It will be great to see Andy back to full fitness and it will be an interesting tussle for the place when he is. Benning is a fine prospect and one disappointing result shouldn't lead to any kneejerk reaction.

Up the Saddlers!


Mal Benning has done his best standing in, but we have to remember that he's still quite inexperienced, and he is likely to make a few more mistakes in a game than a more experienced player in the same position might make.

However, experience can only be gained by playing, so the question is whether to wait for an absolute howler or take him off the front line for now to have a bit of a rest and get some time in the reserves.

It's a long season, and it won't stand or fall by a single game. I'd start Benning on Saturday and see how he goes. If there's not a sign of improvement then Taylor should be back in.


Yes benning should be replaced straight away as he isnt performing as well as andy taylor could. He is miss placing far too many passes and doesnt get the ball on the floor moving aswell as taylor he just looks for the balls over the top which rarely works out!

Riga Boy

Whats to debate ???? Sure Taylor should return as soon as he is fit !

We lost 1 - 0 to a side everyone would fancy to be "in the mix" at the end of the season..... surely we're not expecting to go through the season unbeaten ???

I do , however, think that Deano should be having a word to Stoke on Wednesday about any Belgian midfielders they may have available !!

pako saddler

Left back situation should be a great tussle all season which is a good thing for us, but i agree with the other reader the big problem we have is firepower, we need someone who can turn a game on its head and im afraid we havent. Sell westcarr and bring flo back from stoke for a season, we need a ball carrier who can run at defences and open things up for lalkovic!!


Mal has had a great start, but personally I would bring Taylor back in.


I don't think Benning has done much wrong but Taylor has the experience and is a bit better in the air. I think Arquin jumped above Benning when County scored against us (I'm not totally sure about this!)

But I don't think it would make much difference anyway. Defensively, we are quite solid. What we need is a decent striker. For all Westcarr's qualities, he won't score over 10 this season. Surely Deano has to bring in at least one more forward player? And we are currently playing players out of position which isn't helping. I still think we lack a proper striker like Grigg... And Westcarr is better off playing behind the main striker, not as the #9

Norton Rob

Saturday's trip to Brentford was my first away game to watch the Saddlers for some time, and we came close to snatching a point, which I felt we deserved. However, I seemed to be more disappointed than a couple of the Walsall players, as they were busy cosying up to their opponents at the final whistle, apparently comfortable with their performances. All I would say is - we lost, and in my view a draw was there for the taking. I don't expect players' chins to be on the floor, but I expect them to feel the disappointment of defeat, as supporters do. Good performances which result in defeats are frustrating - unless you're playing teams of a higher level, which Brentford are not!


I think andy should put on 2nd half

My team for Wednesday I would play 5 2 3

Gk Richard O'Donnell

Rb James Chambers

CB Andy Butler

CB Paul Downing

LB mal Benning

CM Adam chambers or sam mantom

CM James Baxendale

CM Ashley Hemmings

f Romaine Sawayers

f Milan Lalkovic

f Craig Westcarr


B Adam

Saw the Brentford Game and Walsall did not play well at all, there was a lack of movement off the ball, were quickly closed down, players took too long to release the ball, no balls played into space so strikers could attack, all moves had to go through the wings rather trying to work anything centrally, so things kept getting closed down. Very few chances were created and those that were created were snatched at. Too many players gathering on the Wings with no-one in the box to receive. What is the logic of having 3 or 4 men trying to cross the ball to one man? Surely that balance is wrong you only need one or two men to deliver the ball from the wing...and there is not even a need to try and beat the fullback either most of the time. Benning seemed not to trust his ability to cross the ball so kept releasing the ball when a quick delivery was needed. Walsall need to learn to make options for the man on the ball by running off the ball. Midfielders and Wingers also need to learn that not every pass has to be directly to a player but rather to a dangerous space so that a winger/central striker can 'attack the space'. Walsall need someone more confident in front of the goal and need a midfielder who can deliver quick passes into space. Advantage was not taken of the wet conditions, many shots should have been taken even from distance as many things happen in the rain (ball harder to hold for keeper, keeper can't launch of the ground as effectively, defenders can slip, ball skids of the surface). Another thing....over elaborate passing rather than focussing on creating chances taking shots...The aim should always be create continuous chances immediately, no passing for the sake of it. I have seen many reports from Walsall and Brentford players saying the game was good etc...good football....I don't know what game they were watching...It was one of the most painful games to watch in 25yrs of watching football...The better football did come from Brentford in the first half, but Brentford weren't great either.

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