Our superb start to the season came crashing down last night following a shootout defeat to struggling League 2 side Macclesfield Town.
For all our desire to get back into the game from being 2-0 down it was wasted with what can only be described as shocking penalty kicks.
Following our start in League 1 you cannot criticise this team at all however its clear to see that squad depth will be an issue for Dean Keates as the season draws on. Chris Dunn, Kane Wilson, Liam Kinsella, Josh Gordon and Maz Kouhyar all came into the side given we had played six games in the space of three weeks.
Dunn wont be happy with his display. Far from the display he gave against Tranmere with question marks raised as to whether he could have done more for two of the Silkmen goals. Wilson showed glimpses of what he can do given a run in the side but Devlin has proved the right back position is his for now. Kinsella was outstanding yet again, all three games he has appeared in he has worked well with Dobson in midfield. His height will hold him back from a regular starting position with Osbourne waiting in the wings, but he is good enough to step up when needed. Gordon looks a real find. All night he caused Macclesfield problems and will be more than capable of slotting alongside Andy Cook or Morgan Ferrier. I have seen some question Kouhyar’s performance last night but I thought he looked brighter and more of a threat than he did last season. I would be looking to send him out on loan though to gain valuable first team experience.
For all our attacking intent last night it was the defence that let us down cheaply. Macclesfield somehow went 2-0 up. Their first goal came from a long throw. The ball came into the box and found its way to the dangerous Napa. His shot took a deflection, hit the post and fell kindly to Grimes who tapped it in from close range. Their second goal came from Smith having a shot from distance and the ball went across Chris Dunn and into the bottom corner. You’d expect keepers to stop them.
However the Saddlers came back with a bang. Time and time again the Saddlers attacked down the flanks only to be let down by some woeful crossing. Ginnelly gives us that bit of quality in the final third and hopefully he is fit for Saturday.
The Saddlers did get one back just before half time. Morris burst through the middle before unleashing a thunderbolt from twenty yards into the corner. On loan keeper O’Hara had no chance.
Cook and Morris went close after half time with the brilliant O’Hara denying both. However the game turned on its head within two minutes as the Saddlers took the lead. Firstly Cook was pulled back in the box and the referee awarded the penalty. Cook missed the initial spot kick with the keeper guessing the right way but the ball fell kindly to him and he poked it home. Then superb play by Wilson down the flank, teed up a cross from Kouhyar who pulled it back for Gordon to tap home for his first Walsall goal.
After that there should have been only one winner, however deep into injury time the Saddlers were the masters of their own downfall after failing to clear the initial danger the ball found Whittaker in the box and his free header was put beyond Dunn…we were heading to penalties.
When certain England players step up to take a penalty you worry. It had that feel about our penalty takers last night. Cook, Leahy, Kouhyar and Morris all have that feel about them that they could miss…and three of them did. Cook, Leahy and Morris all having their penalties saved. Only Kouhyar dispatched his penalty and Dunn got nowhere near Macclesfield’s spot kicks so the Saddlers limped out of the competition.
Just watch Macclesfield get a draw away at Manchester City tomorrow evening….
I think our good start needed that last night. It just gives us a sense of realism and brings fans back down to earth that this side are still some way away from being the finished article.
Lets see these boys bounce back in style as we face Blackpool on Saturday,