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Chris Marsh: Walsall battered them – I swear!

By Chris Marsh | Walsall FC | Published:

It’s difficult to put into words my feelings about the defeat to Barnsley – other than the string of expletives I used last weekend.

Hertbreak: Barnsley’s late winner

Walsall were absolutely outstanding against Barnsley. They took on one of the best sides in the league and made them look silly.

So when the Tykes scored that goal in stoppage time, I couldn’t believe it, I was astonished.

Before kick-off, I had been really looking forward to the game. As regular readers of this column know, I now work for Coventry City.

I normally get to work at around 11am on a match day. But I was in for 9am last weekend so I could get everything done early and sit down and watch the game. When Barnsley scored though, I lost it. I walked out the room shouting ‘f***’s sake!’ – I couldn’t watch any more and I couldn’t keep my emotions in check. And that’s because we absolutely battered them.

I’ve got to say I thought the performance was very good management by my pal Keatesy.

In this column last week I said I thought he was wrong to leave Andy Cook out of the starting XI.

But I can understand it now because the front three of Corey Blackett-Taylor, Josh Gordon and Zeli Ismail were so busy. That is said with no disrespect for Cook because he has been outstanding this season.

He has scored 16 goals for a team battling at the wrong end of the table.

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But I thought Ismail ripped his full-back apart.

Gordon was really lively and should have scored, while Blackett-Taylor was busy, busy, busy and was so unlucky with that one cleared off the line. Walsall ran rings around them, they were on top all over the park. And that’s why it hurt so much when Barnsley scored that goal.

I’ll tell you what it reminded me of – that quiz show Jasper Carrot used to present called Golden Balls.

At the end, the final two contestants would have to say whether they would share or steal the cash.

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Whenever some said ‘steal’ I’d always say ‘you p****’. And that’s how I felt when I saw that goal.

I was so angry and I spoke to Ama Bakayoko after the game and he was just as astonished and annoyed that Walsall didn’t win.

I know afterwards Keatesy came in for some criticism for not making his substitutions earlier.

But he was in a very difficult position – it was essentially a game of poker and he had to decide whether to stick or twist. Because Walsall had played so well, he probably thought if they kept going they would get one more chance to win it. In hindsight, he maybe should have shored things up and secured a point.

Ray Graydon was very good at that. You get a feeling for a game and how it’s going to go and Sir Ray could always sense that. He would often take off a striker and bring on an extra midfielder to shore things up.

On Saturday though there was an argument for sticking and twisting.

That’s why I think the criticism of Keatesy has been a bit harsh. I texted him after the game to say keep your head up – because what happened against Barnsley will not happen every week.

And that is what we need to remember going forward. Walsall have another difficult game at Doncaster on Saturday. But if they keep performing as they have over the last few weeks they will stay up.

We’ve all got to keep the faith and get behind the lads because – with the backing of the fans – they are good enough to win this battle against the drop.

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