Walsall v MK Dons – In-depth Tactical Analysis

A rousing second-half wasn’t enough for the Saddlers to gain three points but it did mean our best performance in many weeks.

There was no Michael Cain in the squad, and not a lot of people knew that, until the teams were announced. Sam Mantom was back in the middle instead. James Chambers on the bench, Jordy Hiwula on the left – the rest you all know.

The first-half was reasonably equal with Tom Bradshaw taking advantage of a goalkeeping error to head home. Will Grigg got MK Dons equaliser and was a threat throughout the first 45 minutes. There were two or three times he got the better of Paul Downing only to be flagged offside and had a questionable handball claim go against him after he had rounded O’Donnell. The goal came about from a cross from the left that Purkiss should have done a lot better to stop. It was all too easy. There was also a good shout for a penalty as Andy Taylor unnecessarily tripped a MK Dons forward. Mantom was anonymous.

The Walsall midfield didn’t have any grip at all in the first half but the second half was entirely different – it was all Walsall. Adam Chambers was superb and almost scored a rare goal. He was getting the ball of the defence and bringing it forward (as opposed to O’Connor bringing it forward against Leyton Orient) whilst Mantom sat in the middle and came more into the game. Sawyers linked everything up well but has no goal threat so it’s all too predictable – you know he’s going to pass instead of shoot. He had a great chance in the first-half but his finish was very poor.

Hiwula isn’t a winger, he is an out and out forward, we looked a lot better when Forde came on at the end as he gives us real impetus, and Murphy deserves a chance down the left-hand side.

It was more encouraging today and definitely more entertaining than what I have recently seen.

Bring on Wembley!

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Walsall Reserves v Morecambe Reserves – In-depth Tactical Analysis

What a scorcher of a day, eh? I walked an eight mile round trip to see this game. I saw canals, flowers, graffiti and the M6 toll road as I crossed two counties (West Midlands and Staffordshire) from my home in Pelsall to the venue of Chasetown FC.

Anyway, first things first. We lost 2-0. It wasn’t all that bad though as I got to see Roy Whalley (ex-Commercial director for the Saddlers), Dean Smith (the gaffer) and the BBC Midlands Today presenter, Ian Winter. This – with the addition of a live and kicking Nelson Mandela – is also my ideal dinner party guest list, so you can’t imagine how happy I am right now.

Walsall lined up in a kind of 4-3-3 formation:

GK: MacGillivray

RB: Kinsella

LB: Probert

CB: K.Rowley

CB: Preston

CM: Mantom

CM: Delaney

CM: Heath

LF: Bakayoko

CF: Jones

RF: Murphy

Morecambe scored on the stroke of half-time from a free header from a corner. Defensively, we were all over the place as Morecambe ran us ragged for the first half as they also hit the bar and caused our keeper to make some impressive saves.

The second-half was a very good game with Walsall dominating the play and Morecambe hitting us on the counter attack. Murphy hit the base of the post with a turn and a shot and that was the closest we came to scoring. Morecambe scored from one of their breakaways as Walsall stood still waiting for an offside flag that never came.

It was good to see Mantom back in the team but he didn’t really do much to warrant a return to first-team action. I would have liked to see Bakayoko given a run down the centre as he was isolated on the left (and also on the right when he switched with Murphy) but when he did get the ball he was a real handful.

Murphy was the pick of the outfield players as he really ran at the defence and caused them a lot of problems. He didn’t have much support though so he was often running into blind alleys.

The trialist, Jones from West Brom, didn’t do much but looked tidy. Kinsella was good in the first-half at right-back, trying to support the attack, but I think he should have been marking the scorer of the first goal from the corner.

Man of the match goes to MacGillivray who pulled off four or five good saves and tried to marshall our shaky defence.

£2 to get in though! I thought it was free!!!!!!