PASS AND DON'T MOVE PASS AND DON'T MOVE
Posted by: Bescot Banter

PASS AND DON'T MOVE

In the latest of his weekly columns, Scott Brotherton takes a look back at the Saddlers' draw with Crewe Alexandra, and looks at the future of the so called 'sexy football'.
In the latest of his weekly columns, Scott Brotherton takes a look back at the Saddlers' draw with Crewe Alexandra, and looks at the future of the so called 'sexy football';

How Walsall got a point on Tuesday is still a mystery to me. After Crewe went into the lead it looked like they would stay there and the Saddlers never looked like scoring for 89 minutes.

It raises a chuckle to think that Milan Lalkovic was the width of a crossbar from nicking it at the end after a mad final five minutes.

First of all some credit must be given to Crewe. They are in a real relegation dogfight and the game plan worked a treat for Steve Davis’ side. The pace and power of Aneke and Pogba up top was used expertly on the counter-attack and the Alex worked tirelessly when they didn’t have the ball to cut off any avenues for Walsall attack.

However, as well as the visitors played, the Saddlers passing was a big concern. Possession was not a problem, Walsall had 58% of it in the match, but they didn’t seem to do anything with the ball.

Some think the imminent return of Sam Mantom will be the remedy. He has been a big miss and the Saddlers have fielded, in my opinion, two defensively minded midfielders in his absence in Adam Chambers and Nicky Featherstone. Mantom’s style as an attacking playmaker is balanced well with Chambers’ role in winning back the ball and I can’t wait for this partnership to be brought back. But if Tuesday night is anything to go by Mantom alone will not be the solution.

To play his favoured scything through balls Mantom needs runners and against Crewe there simply weren’t any. The Saddlers stood like statues passing the ball to each other and there was rarely a run in behind the opposition that a good passer could capitalise on.

In the 1-1 draw Walsall were only caught offside twice. While we don’t want to spend the whole game getting flagged by the linesmen, it shows how few darting runs were made to give a passing opportunity. Craig Westcarr alone is often caught offside more than twice in one half when Walsall win games, perhaps illustrating my point.

It was still a marked improvement from Wolves and Coventry on the passing front, but worse when it comes to penetration. ‘Sexy football’ has deserted the Banks’s in recent weeks and needs to return to prevent an end of season slide down the League One table. A mediocre finish would be a really disappointing end to such a promising campaign.

By: Scott Brotherton.
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