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BLOG: SADLER SCALING NEW HEIGHTS

New recruit Pete Sadler and a couple of friends decided to combine a trip to see Walsall face Carlisle United in Sky Bet League One with a spot of mountain climbing. Pete, along with Liverpool supporting Dave and Aston Villa suffering Joe made plans to meet up ahead of Fridays game.
New recruit Pete Sadler and a couple of friends decided to combine a trip to see Walsall face Carlisle United in Sky Bet League One, with a spot of mountain climbing. Pete, along with Liverpool supporting Dave and Aston Villa suffering Joe made plans to meet up ahead of Fridays game...

So, in March of this year, when most of us were debating who we would like to face most and least in the playoffs, I had the amazing idea to combine a trip to Carlisle to watch the away game and combine it with meeting up with Dave, a guy I met on holiday a few years ago and stayed in touch with since. Dave is a Liverpool fan and massively into his fitness and hill-walking, so suggested we tackle Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England, the day after the game. Of course I agreed. I love a challenge.

Only a couple of days before the trip I agreed to write about my journey for Bescot Banter, something which I'd thought about for a while, another challenge and something I've not done before.

So an old school friend, a nurse named Joe, and I left Birmingham on Friday morning fairly bright eyed and bushy-tailed to start the 180 mile journey north. By the time we had passed Crewe Joe had already been informed of our probably line-up, form, key players and views on how the game would pan out. Basically I heaped praise on the ethos of sexy football, the vibrant young players we have and how pleased I was despite our recent dip in form. As a Villa fan Joe didn't understand what it was like to be pleased...I had to explain how this felt, which I doubt he understood.

I was less than pleased however with the traffic on the M6 for no apparent reason, resulting in a hasty change of plan and meeting at Brunton Park with Dave getting the tickets in preparation for our probably late arrival. Not even a request to Sam Mantom by Twitter could get the kick-off delayed for us, meaning we walked into the ground just in time to see the ball trickle in off O'D's back for the home side to take the lead. A less than satisfactory start.

I was surprised to see that McQuilkin had started the game with N'Goo dropping to the bench but, as I had voiced on Twitter previously, was pleased to see players who are likely to be with us next season given time to gel and show their ability.

The game itself appeared to fall into some kind of fun-day atmosphere instead of a serious battle for points, with the Saddlers realistically out of the play-off places and the home side desperately needing the points to ensure their safety but already 1-0 up. The glorious sunshine and additional day off just put the icing on the cake. From what I recall there was an off-target header as the product of a corner for the Saddlers and a few chances from corners/set pieces from the opposition in what was otherwise a drab first half.

Whatever Deano said to the lads at halftime appeared to have hit home as we came out in the second half by far the better and more positive team. It seemed only a matter of time before the equaliser would come. Baxo was replaced by N'Goo mid-way through the second half meaning Febs moved to a wider position and gave us a focal point in Westy's absence through suspension. Dave looked forward to seeing the Liverpool-loanee but I was quick to dampen these expectations having watched him since January, exemplified with his first touch being a misplaced pass and second to give the ball away in a innocuous area under no pressure. I questioned the substitution. What do I know?

A little later in the game, with the home side getting back into it, Deano took off McQuilkin to give a league debut to Kieron Morris and it was his cross that resulted in the equaliser. Crossing from the right side, just in front of the travelling Saddlers fans, onto the head of a stooping Michael N'Goo who averted the ball into the back of the net. I celebrated and my mates laughed at how the big man had answered his latest critic. I'm genuinely pleased for the lad making me pay my debt for a hasty 'he will never ever score for us' earlier on in the season.

Whilst the lads could have gone on to win it, Sawyers bringing the ball forward on the counter-attack in the last few minutes a couple of times but the moves breaking down, equally the home side hit the crossbar from a long-range effort and a share of the points was probably fair.

Discussions on the way to the hotel in Carlisle was that Mantom and Sawyers really are the future of the club, with the latter taking out plaudits for man of the match, although Downing had another solid performance and seems to improve week after week.

All that was left for the evening was a lovely Italian meal, a few scoops at the local bars and a fairly early night as we had an early start the next day. Again the weather was impeccable and we arrived at Wasdale Head at 10:30am to begin our assault on the summit. It was tough and a slog at times, much like Walsall's season, but we spurred each other on and bumped into some other groups taking the same trek who were encouraging and positive.

Having reached the top I'm sure that I was the highest Saddler that day, a record that I'm proud of, as you will see from my face. Mission accomplished. As for the writing ability...I'll leave that for you to decide if you want to read any more. Maybe I've peaked too soon...

By: Pete Sadler.
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