It was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show at Spotland last night as Walsall were hammered, humiliated and out played by a Rochdale side who had yet to win at home this season.
Walsall were dealt a blow before kick-off as captain Adam Chambers and leading scorer Tom Bradshaw were unavailable due to the injuries they suffered at the weekend. They joined Ben Purkiss, James Chambers, Sam Mantom, Jordan Cook and Rico Henry on the treatment table.
In came Billy Clifford and Mathieu Manset, leaving Walsall with a midfield with an average age of just 20…and it was a case of men v boys as Rochdale continued to bombard the Walsall back line.
Rochdale were ahead after 5 minutes. Good work by Dawson, freed up Matt Done and he placed the ball under Richard O’Donnell.
Vincenti and Henderson both went close soon after for Dale as they sensed a disjointed Walsall side. Then after 30 minutes, Rochdale grabbed a much deserved second.
A well worked free-kick found Eastman who had all the time in the world to head it past O’Donnell – there were at least two more Rochdale players unmarked who could have capitalised from the free kick – the defending was atrocious.
Rochdale were nearly three up in thirty two minutes as Sawyers inexplicably passed a wayward ball which found Matt Done but his shot was well saved by O’Donnell.
On thirty seven minutes, the game was put to bed. A through ball found Henderson who placed it past O’Donnell – it was a half to forget for Walsall and probably the worst opening half we have witnessed since the days of Hutchings and Merson.
At half time, we expected changes however nothing came and questions arose again as to whether Smith can really change a game when we are trailing? Would the second half see a spirited Walsall return? No.
Henderson hit the post within moments of the restart and also missed a one on one with O’Donnell, however the flood gates continued to open moments later as Dawson’s shot bounced of Andy Butler and looped into the goal.
Luckily for us Rochdale took their foot off the pedal and didn’t look like scoring much after that, as by 60 minutes we could have easily found ourselves 8-0 down!
It was a night to forget for an injury battered Walsall side but I will not allow the injuries to cover up the fact that we simply wasn’t good enough. The performance last night was just as bad as the thumping at Brentford when Merson was sacked.
Why was Baxendale on the bench when our midfield was so inexperienced last night? Why did the defence that played so well Saturday, play so poor last night? Why did Smith not make any changes at half time? – far too many questions than answers!
Fans are beginning to get restless with Smith and things need to improve and fast – otherwise the calls for his head will get louder.