The Saddlers saw the New Year in with a late winner, giving us back to back 1-0 home wins and took our total to a more than respectable 9 points from 12 over the Christmas period.
However, the big pre-match news was the re-signing of goalkeeper Karl Darlow from Forest, the latest in a growing list of unnecessary loan signings by our esteemed ginger leader. Quite what levels of panic were going through Deano’s head at the prospect that he might actually have to play Grof in goal for a game or two are unimaginable, as is the damage done to Grof’s morale. I know they say there’s no sentiment in football, and obviously every manager wants to sign players to improve the team, but in this case it plainly just doesn’t. I have nothing against Darlow who is proving more than adequate at this level, but my argument is so is Grof, and for Deano to shatter his confidence completely for what is, at most, a minor improvement is either very brave or very stupid. It now seems certain Grof will leave the club in the summer.
On to the match itself, and on the whole it was a pretty dull affair. Cuvelier returned to the starting line-up after what seems like an eternity out with a hamstring injury, but just six minutes in Flo tore it apart again and was stretchered off to be replaced by Baxendale. Will we see Flo in a Walsall shirt again? Andrew Taylor came out in sympathy for Flo and was replaced by Benning after half an hour after suffering a similar looking injury, leaving us hamstrung for any tactical switches Deano may have been tempted to make in the second half.
The closest either side came to a goal in the first half was a superbly struck Stevenage free kick that whacked the bar after Chambers had been booked for a foul, but other than that chances were few and far between. We livened up after the break and Grigg had a few half chances without really having anything clear cut. Our International striker has started looking more like a forward in recent weeks and long may that continue.
Such was the dullness of the match that a bloke in our block was calling for Bowerman to be brought on and for us to switch to 4-4-2, despite the fact we’d been playing it all game with Westcarr supporting Grigg up top.
We won the match four minutes from time when Paterson smashed one into the roof of the net from just outside the box. The ball seemed to swerve a lot or it may have taken a deflection, but I really didn’t care. It went in, we won, and 3 points that moves us in terms of points nearer the playoff places than the relegation zone.
Next up is Portsmouth on Friday night in front of the Sky cameras and, after they werew battered 5-0 at Swindon today, there’s a strong argument for suggesting even Villa might beat them. However, whether we’ll actually win on tele remains to be seen.