Marcus Braddock previews the trip to the Ban
This weekend Town travel the short distance to Walsall for their latest instalment of League One Football. It's fair to say that the Saddlers haven't had the sort of start to the season that they may have hoped for but they're undefeated at home so this looks to be another difficult game.
Walsall manager Jon Whitney has mentioned his teams’ tiredness and not being able to rest too many players but is that a bit of kidology? Acting like the wounded animal maybe in the hope of wrong-footing us on Saturday? I don't think we can afford to be drawn into any sympathy for a team that most of our supporters consider local rivals, we have inertia but we still need to maintain our standard to keep rolling. After all, Walsall have beaten us almost twice as many times as we have them and shouldn't be under-estimated just because their season hasn't started as well as ours.
Whitney has also mentioned that they've conceded a fair few penalties. What could that many penalties tell us about Walsall? It could say that the defence has been overstretched, causing defenders to stretch for tackles they can’t properly get to. It could be simple inexperience but I wonder if it's just players getting used to playing together. All but one of the defenders I researched arrived in or since the summer so could it just be that they aren't adapting well to each other’s ways of playing. Their home record is an unbeaten one, which is impressive although the teams they’ve beaten in the league this season are Plymouth and Oldham. In addition they've drawn at home with Charlton, Peterborough, Bradford all handy teams that currently occupy third, fourth and fifth in League One. However, clean sheets have not been seen this season at Bescott
Tyler Roberts but he's on international duty, which is a shame as I really rated him when he played for us last season, a loss as big as us losing Dean Henderson? We'll have to see. Fortunately for Walsall they have another striker on three league goals and he's also got one in the FLT. Greenwich born Erhun Oztumer is a midfielder who started his career with Charlton but then went to Turkey to play for a few teams there. In 2012 he returned to England and started playing for Dulwich Hamlets where he scored dozens of goals, enough to alert Peterborough who signed him in 2014. Fifty games and a couple of years later and Oztumer moved to his current club Walsall where he has scored nearly twenty goals in over fifty appearances.
On average Walsall have conceded 1.6 goals at home and scored 2 so the question is can we score two or more on Saturday and keep them down to just the one or less? Well Bradford scored three in their draw at Bescot and Peterborough are the only league team to keep Walsall to just the one goal scored at home so it's not an impossible task.
Forty per cent of Walsall's goals at home have come in the last fifteen minutes, does that mean they have a physically strong team that keeps going till the end? It might do but the same pattern isn't replicated in away games so maybe it's something else. It could suggest that they're often chasing the game into the dying minutes so maybe we need to finish any chances early in the game although Bradford scored three goals at Bescott earlier this season and still ended up with just a point after an impressive Saddlers rear-guard action!
0 at home and 0 away.
Luke Leahy 4
Referee - Graham Salisbury from Lancashire. Games this season 13. Average Yellow cards: 4.5. Average Red cards: 0.3.
Assistants: Alan Clayton and Steven Plane
Fourth Official: Geoffrey Russell
Walsall's loanee striker Tyler Roberts will be on international duty. Jon Whitney has no fresh injury concerns.
Town will be without Dean Henderson who is on international duty.
Paul Hurst goes into this game as the September manager of the month after picking up the award this morning. We really should be winning games like this against opposition who have struggled a little this season but will the “Derby” nature of the game level the playing field. I really hope not, if we play as we have done this season, Walsall are in for a difficult day but I would be happy enough with a draw from this one as it's away from home.
Shrewsbury Town 2-2 Walsall F.C.