Walsall v Cardiff, match preview

Last updated : 29 August 2003 By Michael Morris
It's a nice thought, City head for the Bescott Stadium looking to keep a place in the top 8. With the Bluebirds having two weeks off because of international games it's important to get as high as possible after tomorrow's game so we have a chance of staying high up when half of Div 1 play next Saturday.

City are in action again on Sep 13th after tomorrow's game. We are at home to Gillingham.

So what do we know about Walsall? You will have seen their stadium. You may not have realised it until recently, but it's right next to the RAC centre on the M5 / M6 motorway split. Until the big new PURPLE LOANS stand was built last year it looked like a small retail park with Daewoo advertising hoardings on the roof. (I have not been paid for mentioning either of the companies above, if they want to make a donation I can be found at >>>>)

Seriously, Walsall, with all due respect, are not the biggest headline grabbers in Division 1 but they surpassed themselves this summer by making the biggest signing in the clubs history. Former Arsenal star Paul Merson has arrived and with a bang. After leaving Highbury Merson went North to Middlesbrough, South to Aston Villa and further South to Portsmouth. The travelling took it's toll and he gave up another crack at the Premiership with Pompey to stay close to home and sign for Walsall.

The Saddlers have made a mixed start to the season. The opening day was a fairytale. New signing Merson waded in with 2 goals as they beat their nearest rivals West Brom 4 - 1. Since then two draws and then a defeat last Monday at Crewe.

City of course are flying, Forest 1 - 2 City, City 4 - 1 Derby, what next?

Well recent history over Walsall shows that City have won the last three encounters, the last a 2 - 1 win in January 1993 at Ninian Park. That was in Div 3, we did the double that season winning 3 - 2 away. The seaon before in Division 4 we also won the home game 2 - 1 but drew 0 - 0 in Jan 1992 away from home.

Last season when City drew 3 - 3 at Tranmere on a Friday night I stayed over and dropped in Walsall to see them beat Burnley 3 - 2. Welsh international Gareth Taylor (who signed for Forest yesterday) scored for Burnley. Watching as a neutral in a Division above the one my team played in I felt that if City were to arrive at the Bescott Stadium we'd have nothing to fear. That was when we were a Div 2 team. Merson makes a difference but we should go to Walsall confident but not complacent. Play like we did at Forest and they won't touch us.

Another important piece of information learned at Walsall during my spying mission last Spring was that Walsall served very hot pies and pasties. Cooked properly and a delight. I'm sure the same as Rotherham, and they were excellent. I was in the home end, I hope the away catering is just as good tomorrow.

Walsall is approximately 2 hours from Cardiff, tickets can be obtained from the ticket office at Ninian Park, call 0845 3451400.

Squad news to follow later today.