Date: 18th March 2006 at 8:45am
Written by:

Tranmere Rover stuck to the side that beat Chesterfield 4-1 last weekend hoping for same team same result. KB sprung a surprise although rumours had been circulating before hand. Mark Wright came in at right back for Craig Pead who did appear in the 16. Suspended Ian Roper returned straight back into the centre of defence, with Pablo Mills pushing into central midfield where he finished sundays game,this time along side Osborn with Leary keeping the bench warm.

Keeping warm, was a problem on a bitter cold night and as they did on Sunday they started slowly. Tranmere had the upper hand and Oakes was the busier keeper, with one save of note from Rovers skipper Micheal Jackson when a goal bound header was tipped onto the bar.

Walsall had come more into the game and on the 41 minute James pushed a ball for Barrowman, Barrowman chased the lost cause and took full advantage of a slip by Ian Sharpe to lay on a shooting chance for Grant Smith. Who dispacthed low and sweetly passed Seremet in the Rovers goal.

At half time Brian Little decided to push hard to take the game to Walsall.Bringing on two subs including striker Delroy Facey, who many Saddlers fan remember destroying us at Burnley a couple of seasons ago. It was in fact a Facey shot which led to the 64 minute equaliser when his shot was too hot to hold and Oakes spilled it for Greenacre to poke home. However within 8 minutes Smith gave Walsall back the lead heading in from close range a James cross.

KB had been forced into a couple of subsitute changes with Wright picking up a Knock to be replaced by Westwood. Also Barrowman came off in the 67 minute as Kevan switched to a 4-5-1 in an attempt to stem the flow from midfield. Unfortunatly in the closing stages Walsall were very much under the cosh and were again indebted to Andy Oakes in goal. Daniel Fox was forced off in the 83 minute to be replaced by Ishmel Demontagnac, it was unclear whether it was just cramp due to his lay off, hopefully not a return of his calf strain. Dispite this disruption Walsall held on for there first win of 2006 and first away win since September. We moved out of the bottom four to put pressure on the teams around us. So lets see what saturdays results bring and bring on the crunch game against Yeovil on Tuesday.

Player Ratings

Andy Oakes
Confidence has returned and performed well, some good saves and one excellent stop kept us in the game

Mark Wright
The arguement of whether Mark is a right back or not will continue but tonight was cut short following a knock in the 55 minute.

Ian Roper
Described by Southend fans as the Beast at number five. With Ian Roper you get what it says on the tin. Today was no exception picked up where he left off at Southend.

Anthony Gerrard
I tend to forget Ant is only 19, and I think that says it all about his performance. Again put in a strong block to prevent a certain goal.

Daniel Fox
Good to see him back after an extended lay off, he was still finding his feet but the defence looks much more balanced with him at left back. Came off on 83 minutes cramp or injury?

Kevin James
Out wide again and better going forward rather than defending where his positional sence can leave the full back exposed. But he did what he does best well,having a hand in both goals.

Pablo Mills
My man of the match

Simon Osborn
Still not to his early season best but Simon has shown his comitment to the cause and is the glue that holds midfield and defence together his organisational skills and guidence to the younger players can not be underestimated.

Grant Smith
Having been covering Fox’s absence at left back he was allowed to let all that attacking frustration out…result two goals, enough said

Paul Devlin
After a poor start in a Walsall shirt due to injury and suspension, he is starting to show why he was brought in. Tigerish up front he was the Walsall player who committed most fouls on the night. The rovers defence never had chance to rest.

Andrew Barrowman
Still to win over the fans and is taking longer to settle in the division than we would like. Will chase a ball and seems to be learning of Devlin. Hopefully the involvement in the first goal will help his confidence.

Micheal Leary
Slotted into midfield as an extra enforcer, did the job effectively

Chris Westwood
Came on for Wright in the 55 minute, many fans feared the worse after his Bradford game in this position. He came through unscathed but still has to win over the fans.
Not enough time to make a rea impression but his pace will always give you an out ball when its backs to the wall time.

Manager Rating
Showed strenght to make changes aftera good performance, but not too many and kept to a system unlike Merse. Showed tactical awareness switching to 4-5-1 to stop Rovers building a head of steam. This could have backfired but didn’t. No real question marks over subs this time around

Opponent Rating
Tried his best and like Kenny Jackett before him tried extra strikers to force a result, this time it didn’t come off for him. Result leaves them looking over there shoulder but there run in and strenght of team should see them stay up with plenty to spare.