In-depth Tactical Analysis – Stafford Town 0 Walsall 5

How many times have Walsall won the Walsall Senior Cup? Surely more than Bloxwich Strollers or Shelfield Athletic? Nope. They ain’t won it all. Shocking stuff. Surely the only professional club in Walsall could have won it at least once? No. The closest we came was when we reached the final in 2013.

Of course, we don’t play the first team players in these games but surely the youth team could beat a bunch of semi-professionals? Last night we had nine professionals (plus one on the bench) and six of these have seen first-team action.


Stafford Town are from the Midland Football League Division One (Tier 10) and were great hosts to approximately 300 fans. It was £4 each, £2 concessions and despite being able to qualify for concessions -UB40- I paid the full price. This is because I am a very generous man and not (as the cynical may think) because I had forgot my card to prove that I am on the dole and was that cold I couldn’t be bothered to plead my case with the turnstile operator.

Anyway, to cut a dull story short, we walloped them. There were a few tasty challenges from the Stafford lads (you could hear the thuds in the stand) that lead to a couple of penalties and we had about eighty percent of the possession. Apart from a couple of free-kicks on the edge of the box (that came to nothing) and a very late goalmouth scramble Stafford didn’t trouble our defense at all.

Bakayoko scored the first from the spot. Murphy got the second after an amazing two-thirds of the pitch run from the left-back Rico Henry. In the second-half, Benning got our second penalty, Murphy produced an excellent finish for the fourth and Bakoyoko got a late fifth from outside the box.

Man of the match was Rico Henry who coped easily with his defensive duties and had a major influence on the attack, particularly with the second goal. Out of the other professionals, Benning had a lot of possession on the wing and combined with Henry well, but overplayed things at times. Morris had a good game on the right-wing, cutting in on his left many times and hit the bar in the first-half after a great run and shot. Flanagan was calm in the middle and did the simple things well, keeping the game ticking over. Preston had so little to do it was difficult to judge him. He is big though – by far the biggest player in terms of height and build on the pitch, until Stafford brought on an enormous sub –  and shouts a lot, something we seem to be lacking in the first team at the moment. Murphy was the pick of the strikers, he is fast and can definitely finish well. Kinsella had a good touch and was calm but got roughed up a few times. Bakayoko was OK. He wanted to cut-in with his left foot too many times and the keeper should have saved his second goal. MacGillivray had next to nothing to do. Roberts didn’t get a game (again).

I was sat next to Dean Smith in the second-half who was talking to a mysterious old man throughout. He looked like a cross between Roy Whalley and Tommy Coakley. Despite the use of my grandma’s ear trumpet, I couldn’t hear a bloody thing though.

Whilst I was having my half-time Bovril I was sat near to Neil Baldwin. I told him that it would be marvelous if Walsall won 5-0 and he managed to arrange a lift for me back to Pelsall. Both of which he agreed upon. When the final whistle went I turned to him to say what a marvelous result it was but he had already gone. I then had to walk to Stafford station in the snow, catch the train to Wolverhampton then wait for my bus to Pelsall with a load of angry Wolves fans. It took me two bloody hours to get home. The public transport in this region is far from bloody marvelous. I’ll tell him that, next time I see him.


Mid-Season(ish) Review

After several begging letters and a Twitter campaign that went viral (in the West Midlands), TheGilbertAlsop has decided to make a comeback.

As I am such a generous man I even gave an article away free to my rivals Bescot Banter. It is an hilarious, uproarious, emotional, controversial and heartwarming take on Walsall’s new survey ‘Come on Feel the Noise’. Don’t just take my word for it, head over to the site now:

Before this post my last one was a preview of the season . This caused outrage to all of three people on Twitter and one person was even moved to comment: “Why don’t you wait until the season begins before you do your preview?” I didn’t dignify the stupidity of that question with a reply but I will kind of do that now, as I examine what I did say at this halfway point of the season.

This is the summarizing paragraph of my preview:

“I am afraid, it will be a struggle next season. We will find it difficult to gain any momentum with Cook and Mantom out. Butler’s leadership and Westcarr’s goals will be missed. We should survive but I feel it will be curtains for Smith come the end of the season.”

After witnessing our last three home games then I will definitely say that I am right about Butler. At today’s game against Scunthorpe, and against Swindon on Boxing Day, I witnessed some of the most awful defending I have ever seen at the Bescot.  Today, any cross into the penalty area was met with sheer panic. After conceding the first goal we were lacking in any sort of passion and drive, which Butler gave us in abundance, to get back into the game. We also miss Butler at corners, both defensively and in attack, and our only ‘Plan B’ of putting him up front for the last five minutes when we were losing means we now have even fewer options of changing the game.

However, we do seem to be getting it right at the back away from home, and had also been doing very well at home up until our last three games, so maybe it’s just a blip. A big man at the back, so Chambers can go back to right-back, will still be top of my shopping list in January, though.

Westcarr? Who’s Westcarr? We don’t miss his goals at all because we have a better striker now in Bradshaw who has been splendid this season. Our best signing of the summer, and for many a season, by an enormous margin.

But what of the other signings? I like the look of Forde and I think Cain is a good player. O’Connor hasn’t added anything to the back-line except increase the number of defenders we have in the squad. Cook needs a bit more time but Grimes and Manset have hardly featured when I have seen Walsall. I’d like to see Manset and Bradshaw a bit more as our ‘Plan B’, when things haven’t gone well and we need to score more goals, like today, when we were 2-0 down. We can then get the ball out wide and play more crosses into the box. We can only dream about that one though.

We are so inconsistent that it is still difficult to decide where we will finish in the league, so I will stick with 18th. We aren’t good enough for the play-offs and I believe we are too good to go down. I do think we are capable of going on a run of long losses though. A trip to Wembley will be enough for me though, but I’m not getting carried away just yet. If we do get there then Smith’s job will be safe, for sure.

So, there you go then. It was a cracking result against Preston in midweek made all the better for my Twitter banter with my new bestie and former Walsall captain, Derek Mountfield. It really was one for the ages. It is the type of exchange that Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell will consider A+ material on A Question of Sport. Here it is, in full, for your pleasure (it’s best seen through a magnifying glass) :


Ta’ra for a bit.