International Update

International breaks are rare for Walsall supporters.  As we go into Easter weekend both of our games have been called off as we we have too many players representing their countries.

Like their clubs, the international teams the Saddlers represent do not get that much coverage in the press.  So I have had to rely on lots of internet searches to keep me updated with their fixture dates and results.

Luckily our goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, has quite a large social media presence.  This has made keeping up to date with how the Philippines national team are doing a lot easier.

From his Instagram I feel I have been there every step of the way.

From his arrival…..Etheridge2.png

To before the game starts…..


To the end result……


I’m loving the fact that I can keep up to date with at least one of our players, and that I have some football to follow this weekend.

The international break has allowed me to spend time with my family *sigh.  At least I can try to sneak off and watch the England game later tonight.

Walsall 2 – 1 Colchester

I think I have only just calmed down from the exciting last 5 minutes of today’s game.

The day started well, my dad and I picked up our season tickets for next season.  Our section of the ground was quite busy, but we got to see the players warm up.


Players warming up – photo taken by Rebecca Grant


During the first half of there was not much to set the two teams apart.  I couldn’t see how Colchester are currently bottom of the league, they played on par with the Saddlers.

When Alex Gilbey scored just before the end of the first half The U’s looked like they were the team that were in a promotion battle.

Walsall’s struggle seemed to come from their missing captain Adam Chambers who was not featured in the game due to injury.  They also lost James O’Connor in the 18th minute, and I felt this contributed to their lacklustre performance.  These two senior players are always seen lifting the lad’s spirits, and without them their spirits dropped when losing 1-0.

This continued well into the second half, and it was the most frustrating performance I have seen all season.  After going to the Chesterfield game last weekend I knew that they can turn a result like this around.

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Photo by Rebecca Grant

Fans started leaving whilst my dad and I just kept shouting and trying to encourage the players even more.  Then in the 89th minute a ball laid on by Matt Preston led Tom Bradshaw to score his 18th goal and get the Saddlers back to 1-1.  When the goal went in it was such an amazing feeling.  Although afterwards I was suffering from major stomach cramps from the excitement and stress of it all.

With four minutes of extra time left to play my dad turned to me to say ‘we could go on to win this you know’.  My stomach cramps had just subsided when we got the ball back up the pitch and all the fans were urging for Romaine Sawyers to get the ball in the box.

After a corner I don’t remember too much of what happened.   From what I recall there was more than one shot on target and a bit of a scramble in the box.  Then Preston managed to put the ball in the back of the net, making Walsall 2-1 in the 94th minute.

The feeling after the goal was like we had won the league, FA Cup and Champions league all rolled into one.


Walsall players celebrating their victory – photo by Rebecca Grant

All evening I have been singing ‘Oh Tommy Bradshaw’, and I think I will continue to do so while I am asleep.

We now are heading into an International break (which is a weird thing for a Walsall fan to write) so our next game is not until 2nd April away at Sheffield United.  Let’s hope our injured players can get fit ready for the final promotion push.

Walsall v Colchester – Pre match thoughts 

Today is the first home match of Jon Whitney’s second reign as interim head coach.

It will be a big test for the Saddlers whose home form is what has let them down this season. 

Colchester are currently bottom of league one, but they won their last game away at Bradford.

Like my previous blog posts I don’t want to make a prediction about the result. To be honest my nerves ahead of this match are too much for me to think or hope of what the score will be.

Fleetwood v Walsall – Preview

Tonight Walsall face Fleetwood in a league match that has already been rearranged twice. 

It has been another positive week for the Saddlers after their 4-1 win at Chesterfield, and the news that James O’Connor has signed a new two year contact.

Looking at Fleetwood’s recent home form they have either won or drawn their past six games. 

If the Saddlers win tonight they will go up to third in the table, and level on points with Wigan.  That is unless they can win 9-0, which would take them to second.

I don’t want to make any match predictions, but this is a must win match for Walsall. 

Chesterfield 1-4 Walsall


Chesterfield v Walsall – Photo taken by Rebecca Grant

Yesterday was the best match I have been to in 2016.

After setting myself the challenge to visit all the grounds in the football league (which I will write about later), I decided to start with a visit to the Proact Stadium to watch Walsall away against Chesterfield.

After the events of last Sunday with the departure of Sean O’Driscoll the match had the makings of a win for the Saddlers.   It was a chance to regain their position in the promotion battle as they had not won a match in their last 6 league games.

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Walsall team huddle before kick off  – Photo taken by Rebecca Grant

Surprisingly my Dad and I arrived in good time, and as soon as we walked out to watch the players warm up you could feel the positive atmosphere.  The sun was shining and everyone seemed very relaxed despite the eventful week.

They started well and you could see that this was a very different side to the team that played at home against Barnsley.  It may have been my imagination but Romaine Sawyers played more confidently and like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.  His skills and execution of passes that was missing last week had come back.

After 19 minutes, and a bit of a mix up between Neil Etheridge and James O’Connor, Walsall conceded an own goal.  Later on twitter Etheridge explained what had happened, and it appears there may have been a slight bit of cheating from Chesterfield striker Lee Novak.

Etheridge tweet

Neil Etheridge tweets about the incident where the Saddlers conceded an own goal


This little error was soon forgotten about when at the other end of the pitch the Spireites scored an own goal to make the game level at 1-1.

In the second half the Saddlers were kicking towards their fans.  To be honest I can’t remember much of what happened in the second half before Sam Mantom scored in the 57th minute.  I think this was due to the Saddlers taking the lead and the scrap that happened after his goal.  At the time my dad and I were not too sure what had happened, all we know is there had been an altercation involving most of our team after Mantom’s goal celebrations.  Looking at the highlights on the telly, one of the Chesterfield players got caught up in the celebrations by accident.  This was due to the Walsall players grouping together and he just ended up in the middle of it.  After this there was a big scene and Dion Donohue punched Jason Demetriou which led to Donohue quite rightly being sent off for violent conduct.

After the Spireites were down to ten men two further goals came for the Saddlers, a second for Mantom (75′) and one from Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila (71′).

All in all it was a good day out, and nice to have the feeling of a Walsall win this weekend.

We are still in 4th place in the league, but we have a game in hand and are only 3 points behind Wigan in 2nd.

Things are looking up, let’s hope that we will be able to show such positive fighting spirit on Tuesday night when the Saddlers are away to Fleetwood Town.

Chesterfield v Walsall – Pre Match Thoughts

Today’s game is my second away trip of the season.  The first was Brentford in the  FA Cup.

After a busy morning getting my hair done I was not sure I would be able to make the trip.  But as I am writing this my dad and I are travelling up the motorway. 

It has been an interesting week for the Saddlers.  Sean O’Driscoll left the club, and we now have Jon Whitney stepping in as our interim head coach.

All YouTube posts and articles on the clubs website have been full of positive and motivational statements from Whitney.  So here’s hoping the team will have the faith in themselves restored. 

I don’t want to make any predictions today.  My only hope is that we get to the match on time, and the team show they want promotion as much as the fans do.

Sean O’Driscoll Leaves Walsall


After only 16 games with the club Sean O’Driscoll and Walsall FC have parted company.  This news is something I was expecting maybe at the end of the season, but not now.

Although it is not nice to hear of someone losing their job, I am actually really excited to see if it makes a change to the team’s attitude.

Yesterday’s performance was so poor.  As I noted in my previous post Tom Bradshaw and Romaine Saywers did not play their usual standard football.

There has been a lot of talk on social media sites that O’Driscoll has been the one to affect the players passion on the pitch.  It seemed on many occasions he did not make the right changes to the team and often left out fan favourite Rico Henry.

I must note that the one thing I will miss about O’Driscoll is his articulate written pre match column in the programme.  Strangely I found his written word to be very motivational, but this obviously has not been able to transfer into the dressing room.

Hopefully our next match will feature a Saddlers who have revived their focus on gaining promotion.

Walsall 1 – 3 Barnsley

Walsall V Barnsley 3

The Saddlers warming up before the match – photo taken by Rebecca Grant

The day started in high spirits.  I was optimistic after it was announced yesterday that Jordy Hiwula was to join us for his second loan spell.  My Dad and I got to the ground in good timing, and I even treated myself to a Saddlers beanie hat.

Unfortunately the good start did not act as an indicator to how the rest of my day would pan out.

The Saddlers started strong in the first 10 minutes, and we could have been 2-0 up with efforts from Romaine Sawyers and Tom Bradshaw.

Then after 17 minutes of play Barnsley went into the lead with a goal from Ashley Fletcher, who is on loan to the club from Manchester United.

Bradshaw brought the Saddlers level at 1-1 with his first goal in three games.  Then there was a slight drama from the ref before half time, who had to be substituted due injury.

The second half, well if I am completely honest I don’t even want to write about it.  The only thing that is slightly worth a note is we managed to cope fairly well after Jordan Cook, who came on for Bradshaw, went off injured leaving the side down to 10 men.

Walsall v Barnsely 4

Jordan Cook going off injured, leaving Walsall out of subs and down to 10 men – photo taken by Rebecca Grant


Another questionable decision made was to give Sawyers man of the match.  For me both Andy Taylor and Adam Chambers ran their hearts out, so I would have given it to one of them.  Certainly not the player who helped concede the third goal, and really did not have his best game.

Although the result was not what we wanted, our position in the table is still looking strong for the playoffs.  The worry now is if the players and fans have the passion and belief to stay there.

This year at home it seems our star players have lost their spark.  Today I felt Bradshaw did not look fit, and Sawyers lacked conviction with his passes.  My only hope is that our away form will keeps us in with any chance of promotion.



Walsall v Barnsley – Predictions

There is nothing better than having two football matches in one week.

Well actually that is a lie, it could be better if you watch at least one good match within one week.  That is what I am hoping will happen today.

On Tuesday night the Saddlers faced Scunthorpe at home, which ended in a 0-0 draw.  It was hard to look at the positives from the game.  The one thing we did come away with is the wish of having another striker on the pitch.

That wish has come true with the loan signing and return of Jordy Hiwula.

So if he starts the match I predict a 2-0 win to Walsall, with Jordy getting one of those goals.