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Nuclear bomb

League Two football is definitely underrated. No VAR, no goal-line technology, and decent football. Almost as good as non-league. After the less than inspiring effort from Walsall last week against Newport at the The Bescot, I was looking forward to getting to back to some good old fashioned non-league football. However, the weather put a stop to that, despite me already booking a train thinking it was on. I know, pretty bloody naïve of me. Safe to say I was quite surprised about the 10am pitch inspection, which felt like it took forever to decide where I would be headed to occupy my Saturday afternoon. And after Anstey Nomads was deemed unplayable, I headed to The Bescot instead, to watch what could possibly be a battering at home to second placed Mansfield Town. Conceding 13 goals in the last two games is no bad thing, whichever way you split it. It turned out the split was 9/4, as Harrogate's shoddy defending, to put it lightly, on Tuesday night meant they nearly reached double digits. So, after a second train was booked, a match ticket was bought over the phone, after a bit of confusion and nearly sitting in the away end, I was ready to go.

Just like last week's train journey (see Low Quality blog for more details), this one was relatively eventful too. It was standing room only, so standing in the hallway by the toilet was the best option. Some poor bloke was interrupted using the toilet on two occasions when someone innocuously wandered up to open the door and... well I don't know what he saw, but I don't think there was much left to the imagination. Queuing for the toilet was too much to comprehend for some people, though, as the same bloke wandered up and down the carriage about five times, either looking for a seat or a toilet. There was also some a typically incomprehensible announcement over the tannoy, this time in the same fashion as you would expect to hear as if someone pretended to be on the phone in a cartoon, but you actually had to understand what they were saying (I didn't.) To top it off, I shared the journey next to someone who had, to say the least, a questionable fashion choice. It was a game of 'slippers or shoes', and it got old quite quickly. I'll let you be the judge.

Still not much of a clue...

Make sure to clean them. (One for the Cockneys)

Eventually, I changed trains at New Street and managed to get a seat towards Bescot Stadium station, passing the world-renowned Spaghetti Junction (well, actually maybe UK renowned if it's lucky enough to have that status) on the way and arrived at the station before I knew it.

I buggered up the timings, so ended up arriving around 13:20, and learnt where to go after last week's shenanigans, so I was in almost without hesitation. I say almost, going back to the days of my earlier blogs, and in similar fashion to Chesterfield (see Spontaneous football blog from the Autumn for more), was stood at the turnstile for a short while. I reached my seat, and stood there doing bugger all for about 20 minutes, watching exactly the same. Then came the dilemma of "Is it too early for food?" I surprised myself by answering "Yes" to that question, but it didn't take long to convert to "No" when my mate Prov arrived and decided to get a Balti Pie. We mulled over various topics such as football, work and alcohol (proper lads) and deliberated over Sadler's choice of today's lineup. Jackson Smith was in for Owen Evans who was sent off last week after he handled the ball outside the box, and a few other changes that I can't remember, if I'm being honest.

The calm before the storm

Lino checking for holes in the net. Someone should tell him. There's loads.

The game began with a brilliant atmosphere from both ends. Let's be honest, though, it was hard to get worse than last week. Mansfield sold out their ticket allocation and it was a packed out away end. An early break in the first 30 seconds for the Stags in front of the home end brought a collective "oh shit" and "not again" only for it to be given offside. Other than that, the Saddlers started brightly to the surprise of probably everybody, particularly those who thought it would be a battering (including me), and weren't far from scoring multiple times in the opening quarter. Then, it wouldn't be football without a bit of controversy, would it? In the middle of the first half, Jackson Smith carried some or all (depending on your opinion) of the ball over the goal line, but nothing was given by the referee. To be honest, it is quite difficult to tell from the angles available online, and I don't envisage goal line technology in League Two anytime soon. The rest of the half came, and then swiftly went, so I went to get some more food in the form of a cheeseburger, which I tried to resist but couldn't.

The second half started in a lively fashion too as Jamille Matt headed home a cross at the near post to put the hosts in front. Cue a "top of the league, having a laugh" chant from the Walsall faithful, having moved to top with a point while Stockport fell apart at Tranmere. However, the lead lasted less than three minutes before a blue shirt nipped into the box and tucked it across goal and into the corner, sending the away support wild. Despite the equaliser, it was still a cracker from both teams' perspective, and the performance was miles better than Newport. I asked Prov to compare the game to last week, and without hesitation, he said "Nuclear bomb v coffin baby". I've thought about it for hours, and still no idea what he meant. I've kept that in because I was deliberating over it for this week's title. If anyone from the MoD or MI5 is reading this please know that I'm not planning anything sinister. Following that, it started to rain, but it was the bastard rain (i.e. the one where you don't think it was really raining that much but you'll get soaked if you sit or stand there for long enough). Thinking about it now, I could've just called it 'light rain' rather than just ramble on with some elaborate sentence. After that, there was another header scored for the Saddlers from someone with a long name and the fans went mental. So mental, that the police had to kick some of the yoof out in the corner.

Six added minutes came with a collection of "oh shit" and Mansfield nearly equalised in added time but Jackson Smith saved it on his goal line (again) and kept the three points for the Saddlers. Mansfield will argue it as a case of coulda/shoulda/woulda but three points gained, which if you saw the games last week, is pretty impressive, particularly against the title challengers. And then the fun began with the mad dash back to the station for both sets of fans, which resulted in some jeering as well as the rozzers getting involved again.

Decent day out, much better than last week, let's see what happens next time round. Will it be Football League? Will it Non-League? Will it be Premier League? No, it absolutely won't be Premier League. Some football will take place somewhere and there might be a blog about it. How non-committal.



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