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Fans criticised after Saddlers 'give their all' In association with COCA-COLA LEAGUE ONE CHELTENHAM TOWN 0 WALSALL 0.

Byline: BRIAN HALFORD at Whaddon Road

Jimmy Mullen was left bemused by Walsall's travelling supporters after his side battled gamely for a deserved point, and argubably deserved all three, against in-form Cheltenham.

Walsall kept their first clean sheet since November 15 and created enough chances at the other end to have comfortably won the game.

That those chances went begging, with Michael Rickets and Troy Deeney the biggest culprits, was a shame because everything else about this performance was much better than of late.

Clayton Ince was excellent in goal. Anthony Gerrard and Rhys Weston led a resolute display from the back four. And the midfield, beefed up by the return of Richard Taundry, asserted itself more the longer the match went on.

It all amounted to a decent effort from a squad whose preparations in the week were badly disrupted by a virus in the camp. But some of the travelling Walsall fans were not going to let one improved performance erase their unease about the team's struggles in recent weeks.

And that irked Mullen on a day when he felt his players deserved only praise.

"We have had a tough week with a virus around the place," the Saddlers manager said. "Four or five of our players were not at the training ground until Friday and we only had 12 players in training for most of the week.

"But every man jack of them deserves a pat on the back. They came here and gave their all.

"I am delighted for the lads because four of them were in their beds until Friday. To come away with a 0-0 and show their doggedness and spirit they did was fantastic.

"You wouldn't have know that by the reaction of our fans, by the way. I sometimes wonder what we have to do to please people."

CHELTENHAM (4-3-3): Brown, Bird (Caines, 86), Gallinah, Kenton, Ridley, Payne, Finnigan (Russell, 80), Hammond, Westlake, Spencer (Hayes, 66), Hayles. Substitutes: Puddy, Owusu.

WALSALL (4-4-2): Ince, Palmer, Weston, Gerrard, Sansara, Taundry, Mattis (Grigg, 89), Bradley, Nicholls, Deeney, Ricketts. Subs: Gilmartin, Smith, Reich, Boertien.

Referee: A Taylor (Manchester).

Walsall man of the match: Clayton Ince - back to his best.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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