Posted by: Bescot Banter


On Tuesday evening Walsall Football Club travelled West to take on near rivals Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup First Round Replay. Bescot Banter columnist Pete Sadler was in attendance, and shares his match report below.

On Tuesday evening Walsall Football Club travelled West to take on near rivals Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup First Round Replay. Bescot Banter columnist Pete Sadler was in attendance, and shares his match report below.

If you speak to anyone that actually was at the game this evening they will probably agree that there is not enough to say to fill an article. Plus there aren't many positives. If you look through my previous articles and/or tweets I don't like the doom and gloom so this is going to be hard for me. Bear with me here.

Walsall were unchanged from the team that faced Peterborough United on Saturday. That didn't surprise me, everyone that played put in a shift and it was some of the best football we have played without finding the back of the net (more of that later). The only concern was the lack of a Sam Mantom-shaped presence on the bench. Answers on a postcard please on that one...

The most lively thing in a totally forgettable first half was the crowd. No exaggeration. Lots of needle off the pitch, a bit on it too, with both teams ineffective going forward. A lack of presence up front for the Saddlers in absence of Tom Bradshaw is not a new concern I need to point out to anyone. Manset for me cannot play the lone striker role so it seems pointless keep trying the same thing. Either play two forwards together or don't play him. I don't mind but it's painful to watch him flounder.

Half time, bore all. Something had to give. I hoped so anyway as the prospect of injury time and penalties was not something that I was looking forward to. As for sitting low down behind a goal I can understand why some of our fans don't appear to see some of the better elements of out play at times...with the extensive highlights on the Football League Show too. Spot the sarcasm.

The breakthrough came after what appeared to be a foul on Jordan Cook which was not picked up by the referee leading to a counter-attack from the home side, ultimately ending with a fine strike from Liam Lawrence on 53 minutes. 1-0 to the Shrews.

Three changes from Deano followed; Benning replacing Forde, Grimes on for Manset and lastly (much to the delight of some fans near me) Baxendale in place of Sawyers.

I'm baffled by anyone who understands football who berates Sawyers game after game. Genuinely I feel sorry for him and will defend him to the hilt. He is in a position where he has to create something from nothing, with little movement from others and put off from trying things by the boo-boys with every misplaced pass. Romaine if you are reading this (which I doubt he will, so if someone can pass it on) don't be disconcerted and keep doing what you are doing. I think you are class.

Anyway back to the game. Adam Chambers had one of only two shots on goal Walsall had all night late on, before being sent off for a challenge worthy, in my eyes, of a yellow at most. Connor Goldson did his level best to feign injury and get Cook an early bath too, which was abhorrent. Purkiss fired over in the box from a dead ball situation and the game petered out to a whimper. So much for the magic of the FA Cup. Deflated.

Focus on the JPT/league? I'm very much in the 'Smith in' camp but feel that he has missed a trick in not rotating the team for this game. I can't see many changes from the team tonight to the one that will start versus Fleetwood Town on Saturday coming, with the exception of the banned Chambers. Clifford has to start surely or he may aswell turn up to every game with a cigar and smoking jacket!

The gulf between the first 12/13 players and the rest of the squad is huge. A few injuries and we struggle. With this in mind, let's be honest we are never going to prioritise the FA Cup over the league, why not try a few of the younger lads and rest the main players? Morris/Kinsella/Heath/Bakayoko? I'm not saying all of them to start but give them opportunity to experience the first team in a meaningful game and freshen things up, bridge the gap to the rest of the squad would be my thought. Strength in depth.

Last 2 games and 0 goals. No Tom Bradshaw, no goals. Just echoing what I heard everyone saying as they left the ground tonight. Can anyone donate a hamstring?

Unfortunately I won't be there on Saturday, I'm off to the Nou Camp for Barcelona vs Sevilla. I'm sure it will be very similar to Fleetwood away. Last time I missed a game because of a holiday we beat Rotherham 3-0. If we win Saturday maybe everyone can have a whip-round to send me away more often?!?

  GOALS    Liam Lawrence (53)  
  VENUE   Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury.
     ATT      4,222 (711 Walsall)
     REF      Mr. Gavin Ward, Surrey.

 SHREWSBURY TOWN  Leutwiler; Grandison, Demetriou, Woods    , Goldson, Collins, Lawrence, Wesolowski, Knight Percival    , Grant (Vernon 77'), Akpa-Akpro    

 SUBS NOT USED  Halstead; Ellis, Vincent, Wildig, Griffith, Clark

 WALSALL  O'Donnell; Purkiss, J.Chambers, Downing, Taylor; A.Chambers ©    , Cain; Cook, Sawyers (Baxendale 72'), Forde (Benning 57'); Manset (Grimes 65'    )

 SUBS NOT USED  MacGillivray; O'Connor; Flanagan, Clifford
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