It might be a new era and a new season but yesterday’s defeat to Alfreton shows we haven’t moved on from last season.
Yes, it was a friendly and yes it is all about fitness but the second half team showed how poor our second string is and how much Clarke needs to improve the squad considerably with the season just four weeks away.
The Saddlers line up in the first half –
Roberts, Norman, Clarke, Scarr, Leak, Pring, Bates, Sinclair, Kinsella, Adebayo, Gordon
For the first forty-five minutes, the Saddlers looked the better team and should have easily been three/four nil up only for poor finishing letting us down – very similar to last season. Josh Gordon and Elijah Adebayo missed our best chances of the first half.
The pick of the bunch in the first half had to be James Clarke and Dan Scarr who looked resolute in defence and were constantly talking to each other and those around them. Special mention to Alfie Bates in the centre of the park too, constantly looking for the ball and moving it forwards – our next big thing?
The Saddlers took the lead very early in the first half, as Jon Whitney used to say it’s not good to score early…a free kick found Cameron Norman who headed back to Adebayo who headed it past the keeper. That will give our new striker confidence.
A decent move by Alfreton just before half time led to their equaliser. Questions will need to be raised how their man was left free in the box but I’m sure Clarke will iron out the issues.
The second half though was the polar opposite to the first. Walsall didn’t get out of first gear and Alfreton had enough chances to win the game earlier but waited until the eighty-ninth minute to find it.
The Alfreton striker was left through on his own, took it around the flat footed Flatt and back healed it into the net.
The Saddlers line up in the second half was made up of very young players, last seasons misfits and a lot of journeymen – a clear indication that the board need to back Clarke to strengthen this squad a lot more.
One thing I will say about this coaching set up – they do not stop barking orders. Clarke, Stewart, Dutton and Taylor we’re constantly telling players what they needed to do and where they needed to be. Great to see after last seasons folded arms approach.
Throughout the second half fans continued from last season by chanting sack the board to Walsall Director Dan Mole – it’s refreshing to see one summer hasn’t made people forget who are the main problems at the club.
As I say it’s only a friendly but those that are worried about squad depth and budget will be worried a little more.
More experienced and quality signings needed.