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Walsall Reserves Report
By: Paul Holmes
Grimsby Town reserves put four goals past their opponents for the second time in a week. This time the opponents were Walsall. In the town line up Wayne Burnett started in an unusual role. A former Town cult hero also took in the game.
Burnett took his place in the centre of defence which may seem strange but he did very well and his class shined. However had he been up against better opposition he may have struggled.
Town lined up as follows:
Burnett's role was not the only surprise with Ben Chapman playing despite been ruled out for the season, with a dislocated shoulder. Anthony Howard who had a trial with Town early on the year returned as did Steven Downes who impressed after coming off the bench last week. They were joined by a third trialist in Paul Read.
On the bench were Wesley Parker, Morgan Cranely (GK), Lee Beelsy, Simon Ford and Ashley Hildred. Not in the 16 was Morton Hyldgaard . Maybe Lennie Lawrence has realised that he is no better than Croudson and Cranley.
Included in the mostly young Walsall team was former Lyon prospect Xavier Barraud and Everton's former tough tackling Welsh international Barry Horne.
Sat in the director's box was Keith Alexander, current manager of Northwich Victoria. Maybe some of Towns fringe players will be loaned to Northwich next year or Alexander could have been looking at the players who look set to be released in the summer. Either way he was in deep conversation with Lennie Lawrence, John Cockerill and Steve Thompson for most of the game.
The first goal came early in the game with Howard heading home after good work by Daryl Clare
The second goal came after 30 minutes when Clare went on a mazy run beating 4 men before crossing to Allen in the box, his shot was blocked but the ball fell to Adam Buckley who smashed home from 15 yards.
Town continued to dominate all half, but just couldn't put the ball away. While Wayne Burnett was keeping the Walsall attack at bay and contributing to the attack with several long passes that found players in aces of space. Walsall's inexperience was showing and despite the best efforts of Horne to organise the team, they were been destroyed by a far better team.
After the break, Town continued to dominate at for most the game were camped in Walsall's half.
Town's third came on 55 minutes after great work from Steven Downes, who impressed all game, down the right. Having found himself in space he crossed to Allen who swept his close range effort past the keeper.
Straight from the restart Town almost got another when Allen chased back a pass-back and was unlucky when his block of the clearance went wide.
2 minutes later Allen had another opportunity when he found himself sandwiched between two defenders 25 yards from the goal. Bradley saw the on rushing keeper and attempted to lob him but the ball sailed over. Simon Ford replaced Ben Chapman.
After 65 minutes Walsall finally forced Steve Croudson into action when a Jamie Campbell header from a corner produced a fantastic one handed save to push the ball to safety.
Steven Downes who was a torment all game was brought down shortly afterwards which resulted in a booking for Jamie Campbell. From the free-kick Clare went on another run, which fed Black who shot straight to at the keeper from 20 yards out. Around this time Wesley Parker replaced Gary Moran and Ashley Hildred replaced Steven Downes
By now the youthful Walsall team was beginning to get annoyed with Town and this showed when substitute Craig Jones hacked down Adam Buckley and was lucky to only see yellow.
Town put the fourth in the dying seconds when Kingsley Black connected with a long corner to fore past the keeper from the edge of the 18-yard box. The linesman raised his flag for an off the ball incident but after much discussion the ref allowed the goal to stand. Straight after the kick off the ref blew for full time.
Grimsby 4 -0 Walsall
Croudson - 8 Didn't have a lot to do but his save was top quality
Moran - 7 Supported Downes well until he was replaced.
Chapman - 7 Like Moran supported the attack until he was replaced.
Read - 7 Very composed and embarrassed the attackers on a few occasions
Burnett - 8 Silky skills were wasted in defence where he guided Read
Downes - 8 Very good at running at people and good crosser of the ball.
Buckley - 6 Nice goal but drifted in and out of the game too often
Black - 8 As always he caused problems with his skill
Howard - 6 Looks to be a defensive player and didn't get a lot of chance to shine
Allen - 7 Lead the front line brilliantly and took his goal expertly
Clare - 7 Dangerous runs but looked a bit uninterested.
Man of the Match
This is between Burnett and Downes. Downes looked very dangerous and at times was taking on 3/4 players at time, with ease. If he continues to play like that, I say let Donovan go and sign him up. However Burnett stole the show with a classy performance in an alien position. He supported the attack with some top quality passes and was never once tempted to go into his natural midfield role. So the M.O.M has to go to Burnett.
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