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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big Match Analysis - Dagenham 1 Walsall 1

As part of our series on the state of rearguard play in the Football League, and with Turls away this week, Nobes steps into the breach to analyse the defending from our Big Match.

Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Walsall
Saturday October 16, Victoria Road, (Att: 2,666)

It's the in-vogue thing in football these days. No, I'm not referring to the ridiculous guards of honour of flag waving kids that greet players onto the pitch.

Rather, I'm talking about high scoring, care free, goal crazy matches.

It was a trend continued this weekend: Bury beating Torquay 4-3 and Hereford winning at Northampton by the same scoreline.

Sheffield United and Burnley shared the spoils in a 3-3 draw and Peterborough edged out Swindon in a remarkable 5-4 contest.

There were also 3-2 scorelines in games at Accrington, Macclesfield, Portsmouth, Cardiff, and Bournemouth. The League's gone goal crazy.

Things were a bit more routine at our Big Match this weekend as Walsall travelled to Dagenham & Redbridge. Here's my take on how the defences performed for the goals:

Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Walsall 0

Daggers striker Bas Savage - not nearly as scary as his name - is an awkward customer and does well to shield the ball from his defender on the far right touchline.

It could be argued the Saddlers defender who goes to double up on him leaves a man free on the wing to cross it in.

However, where Walsall really let themselves down is allowing Darren Currie to have the freedom of London to head the ball in. There's no one within five yards of him.

The defence have got sucked towards the ball and left a big hole in the middle. It's a good cross, but you can't allow someone that much time and space.

Also think the keeper, who seemed to get a hand on the ball, could have done better and turned it around the post.

Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Walsall 1

Dagenham out-Dagenham-ed here with a long ball punted forward leading to the equaliser from Walsall.

The ball bounces - always dangerous for a defender - but he allows himself to be out fought for it by Jon Macken.

Now, I know Kevin Keegan once spunked £6 million of Manchester City's money on Macken - and that was in the days they couldn't afford to waste millions. Seriously though, you can't allow yourself to be beaten up by him.

Seeing his pal make a mess of things, the left back comes towards Macken to try and make amends - leaving a nice big gap in behind for the striker to slide the ball onto Devaney - the on-rushing right winger.

Still work to do from here, with two defenders busting a gut to get back. He gets a shot away which seems to squirm under or through keeper Tony Roberts.

True, Roberts probably qualifies for a bus pass he's so old these days. It takes him a while to get to ground probably. However, it's a tame shot to let in. There's not much pace on the ball, and it's not aimed right in the corner.


Early season form suggests these two could have a long hard winter ahead of them as they battle to avoid the drop into League Two.

It's no surprise to see both sides struggling to keep clean sheets - just one each this term so far.

However, they're going to need to make themselves harder to score past if they're to avoid relegation. Both teams were punished because they lost their defensive shape.

Why? Because players made mistakes and others tried to help them out. While that's natural and right, it means that the whole team needs to cover. Where is the man checking the run of Devaney for Walsall's goal?

Where, too, is the midfielder keeping tabs on Currie's run into the box? It's not like he moves particularly quickly these days.

Both managers can feel aggrieved with their respective team's defending. The happiest person after this result? Me. I predicted the scoreline beforehand - and that so rarely happens that I'm going to make the most of it.

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