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Match Previews

Match Preview - Town set for Walsall challenge

22 February 2024

Match Previews

Match Preview - Town set for Walsall challenge

22 February 2024

After bouncing back from defeat at Mansfield with a hard earned point away at high-flying Crewe, Town entertain Walsall at The Envirovent Stadium this Saturday in the first of two back to back home fixtures, with the visit of Newport to come on Tuesday.

And with results elsewhere largely going Town’s way over the past week the game provides a big opportunity to firm up their position in the playoff places, but the Saddlers will be full of confidence after despatching Morecambe 3-0 last time out.

Our opponents

Illustrating quite how congested the fringes of the playoff race in League Two is, although Walsall come into the game in 16th place on 45 points they sit just three points behind Town, currently occupying the final playoff spot.

They have lost just once in six games though and have performed consistently since the start of December to put themselves in with a chance of a run at the playoff positions.

On their travels the Saddlers have averaged a point a game, winning four of their sixteen games, and have drawn both of their previous away games 1-1.

Previous meetings

George Thomson’s strike five minutes from time was enough to earn Town the points back in November.

Previous clashes at home have seen Town yet to taste defeat with one win and two draws to date. Last season Town comfortably ran out 3-0 winners at the end of the season thanks to strikes from Sam Folarin, Kazeem Olaigbe and Alex Pattison.

In 2021/22 the two sides shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Calum Kavanagh scoring a last minute equaliser and in 2020/21 there was an entertaining 2-2 draw in Town’s first home game as a league side in a game played at Doncaster Rovers. Aaron Martin and Jack Muldoon cancelled out Rory Holden’s early opener only for Josh Gordon to level ten minutes from time.

The man in charge

Mat Sadler is in his first season in charge at the club after taking over from Michael Flynn at the end of last season.

Sadler previously had a playing career that saw him make almost 500 appearances for the likes of Birmingham City, Watford, Shrewsbury, Crawley and Walsall as well as representing England at youth level.

Ones to watch

Whilst there is plenty of firepower in attack, with the likes of Danny Johnson, Jamille Matt and Aramide Oteh available, the Saddlers have missed loanee Freddie Draper, who was recalled by parent club Lincoln City in January after netting ten times over the first half of the season.

Former Crawley man Isaac Hutchinson has helped to ease the loss of Draper with ten goals and six assists with creativity coming in the shape of Ryan Stirk and Oisin McAtee, assisting on five and four goals respectively.

Donervon Daniels remains a permanent fixture in defence with Liam Gordon also logging significant minutes.

During the January window the club added youngsters Emmanuel Adegboyega and Mo Faal on loan from Norwich and West Brom, whilst Josh Gordon’s League Two experience was added from Burton Albion.

History

Walsall have spent the vast majority of their time in the third tier of English football, last playing in the Championship in the early 2000’s. They were relegated to League Two at the end of the 2018/19 season and have posted mid-table finishes since.

They moved to their current all-seater home, Banks’s Stadium, in 1990 and posted a record attendance of 11,049 in 2004 against Rotherham. The all-time leader in appearances for the club is Jimmy Walker, who played 534 times across two spells, whilst Alan Buckley is their leading goalscorer, netting 202 times in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Team news

Simon Weaver continues to be without long term absentees Mark Oxley, Lewis Thomas, Rod McDonald and Sam Folarin.

 


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