Saddle up

Is that a twitch of life in the corpse?

Too little too late? Perhaps. A promising sign of things to come? I dunno. But never has a result like Possibly Going Down 0 Probably Going Down 1 been as welcomed…

And a shot in the arm it is. After the Burton horror show, we needed something before Millwall, and we got it. While a draw would have been both deflating and oddly morale boosting, another loss would have probably ended the season.

As the Notts County manager sitting behind WDON last night would testify, losing can become a very nasty habit.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. There was still too many times we gave the ball away. We needed Ramsdale to pull off a blinder of a save before the break. Piggy managed to hit the post with a clear sight of the net in front of him.

There’s still an obvious lack of quality, not to mention the Pigster’s current form, and we would probably have got a point at best against a better side last night.

But enough looking at gift horses in the mouth. Not only did we need the three points, we deserved them too.

The first half was so-so. Some nice touches by Folivi, some not-so-nice attempts at distribution, albeit on a lousy pitch. As mentioned just now, we needed our goalie to pull out that block, because Walsall were starting to threaten.

I’ve no idea what was said at half time, but we came out flying. A series of corners, and then, then, then

Here’s the goal. And what great movement and – perhaps more impressively – a reaction by Seddon to fire home. Trust me, that celebration meant as much to those on the field as it did off it.

The players have been through the wringer themselves, justifiably so. Many of them would struggle to find another L1 side, so maybe last night they finally woke up?

We’ll see. There’s still a long way to go even now (fourteen games) and as said in a recent update, now is not a bad time to put on a winning run.

But it’s our first league win in 2019, we’ve stopped a horrible run of games, and it’s a nice feeling. We haven’t had too many of those recently.

As an aside, the post-game celebrations weren’t as wild as you would have expected. Everyone was very happy, obviously, but one sensed everyone knew this has to only be the start of it. Not a bad attitude to have if we can pull it off…

Shall we?

Plus points: We won. Clean sheet. Fired up second half. Seddon’s goal. Ramsdale’s save. Ability to hold onto the lead.

Minus points: Just one goal. Wondering why we didn’t do this against Fleetwood/Burton.

The referee’s a…: Chris Sarginson. A man who if he refereed in East London would be likened to Immanuel Kant many times during the game. Anyway, he was at it again last night, being inconsistent for the sake of it.

I’m surprised he even let the goal stand, it probably decapitated a worm or hit the net too hard or something.

Them: As shit as we are, thankfully.

I didn’t know that as of the full time whistle they have won just one of their last twelve games. Nor have I dared to look at the league table recently, because they’re two points off the drop zone themselves.

Perhaps our survival is going to be helped by teams like them who have a collapse in form at exactly the right time? For us, that is.

Anyway, that probably explains why they were booing their team during the game, and why they joined in the “Fucking useless” chant themselves. I thought it was some form of self-deprecating West Midlands humour.

I won’t sit here all smug and suggest I knew we were going to win after we went 1-0 up, because with the luck we’ve had this season it was never over until the full time whistle. Although with Sarginson in charge I wouldn’t even say we were safe even after that.

They put it about a bit though, as Toby Sibbick will testify this morning. Actually, quite a few of our players hit the floor, but at least they received actual physical contact beforehand.

This was only my second ever visit to the Bescot, and though I’ve always considered it a “new” ground it manages to show its age (late 80s), a bit like Scunthorpe’s place. One small set of toilets for the whole stand?

Still, it was nice and intimate, and I bet it’s a decent atmosphere if there’s a large following that’s up for it. I imagine NPL will be a modern version of the venue, probably even down to the stanchions…

Point to ponder: Was last night the first glimpse of the kind of team Walter wants?

Six changes from Burton, more or less all his signings from January, a fair sprinkling of other youngsters (Sibbick, Haritgan), and even if we find ourselves in League Two – this approach looks promising.

I could mention the obvious deficiencies from this particular set of players (quality, strikers, needing to feed some on concrete sandwiches), but fundamentally – if we can get it right we could be onto something.

No, many of them will be gone in the summer too, but a lot of them won’t and like the L2 promotion side it may start to “bond” in a way the squad hasn’t done for a good while.

Regardless of personnel though, you can see why our manager wants players who are younger and are there to be developed into the finished article. We saw that last night, especially with some of the movement.

I won’t say we were unplayable for that spell after the break, but Walsall couldn’t cope with our energy and a lot of teams will be like that.

We’ll probably be as strong if not stronger as a squad than we were last night, no matter where we end up. The caveat of W&G getting it wrong to Kevin Nolan-esque levels at Notts County remain, but their signings so far have been decent enough.

The other reason you can see why Walter wants to go in the direction he plans is because of the senior players he’s seen. We will need experience, but he must despair at what some of our highest earners are like.

We can all pick holes on what eventually became of NA’s transfer policy, but one of those biggest failings was aiming for “Championship quality” players (not just a reference to Appiah) without quite realising why we were able to sign them.

Too many are injury prone and are taking their wages from the treatment table. A side with limited spending power literally cannot afford it, and the way Hanson and Appiah are sicknotes has crippled us.

Even more of them command healthy bank accounts but aren’t actually that good. Our previous manager, like so many before him, got seduced by the higher wage = better player notion that isn’t often true in L1.

Case in point – Jervis and Trotter, the former seemingly joining the latter in Wally’s woodshed.

We’re lacking in strikers to the point where we didn’t have any on the bench last night, but if our loanee was fit and dropped then our manager has clearly seen enough.

True, the lesser spotted Soares was a sub at Walsall, and I guess allowed out for good behaviour, but the way Trotter in particular was hauled off at the Chelski Chuckaturd game and has rarely been seen since is telling.

Every team needs experience, and due diligence is a must, but I think we’re going for the right approach, given our resources etc. And after all, it worked last night…

Point to ponder: 1) Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” before the game. I like Walsall. 2) “We are staying up” – bit early for that yet. Mind you, a few wry smiles at the “We’re proud of you” song at the end. 3) The pre-match shooting practice was genuinely dangerous.

Anything else? All attention goes back to Millwall in the FAC on Saturday now, which will prove to be a welcome distraction again.

I think everyone will be up for this game, although deep down we all seem to expect bowing out by Saturday evening. WHU was one of those games that you get every so often, and that might end up being our glory game.

People want to win, obviously, and I don’t think it’s just for the money either.

Sure, filling the coffers will help us a lot next season, but as I wrote above about seeing the youngsters – last night reminded me that football is to be enjoyed.

That fifteen minute spell after the break when we could/should have been 3-0 up got the pulses flowing (or is it juices racing?). Forcing corners, Piggy hitting the post, seeing us go for it.

Doing the same against South East London’s finest on Saturday will raise the endorphin levels. Sure, it will only be temporary, especially as we’ll probably shit the bed against Rochdale next week.

But it would be nice to think that Burton/Fleetwood will be the nadirs and we won’t do them again in a hurry. And yeah, we can dream.

Should we keep the XI that started yesterday, or play as close to the same side that gubbed the Hammers? More to the point, does it matter? We all know the senior players will up their game for the win bonus, which will ironically see most of them replaced in the summer.

As somebody said last night before the game, I’d rather win Saturday than at the Bescot, although a penny for his full time thoughts 😉 But I knew what he meant by it…

So, was it is worth it? Certainly was.

In a nutshell: More of the same. Please?