Josh Ginnelly: Walsall have got real firepower
Josh Ginnelly believes Walsall have an attack to rival the very best in League One as they look to return to winning ways at Bristol Rovers.
Saddlers travel to the Memorial Stadium tomorrow aiming to rediscover their scoring touch after a 1-0 defeat to Accrington was followed by a goalless draw against Shrewsbury.
In both those games, Dean Keates’ side missed a host of chances – with their overall performances worthy of three points.
Ginnelly though says Walsall’s forward line has been working hard to be more clinical. And he feels on form, they are are a good as anyone in the division.
“We know our attacking threat is up there with the best in the league,” the winger said.
“We have got some great players and it’s not just the lads that are starting, we have boys that can come off the bench and affect the game as well.
“We know if we start taking chances someone is going to get a big scoreline off us.
“But it doesn’t really matter, it’s three points that matter. If we win 1-0, it’s still three points.
“We are working hard to be more clinical. We all watch our chances back to see what we could do better.
“Against Shrewsbury for example, I had one that went over the bar. But I just had to hit the target because there were plenty of bodies in the box.
“That’s my fault. But we are working hard in training to improve for the Saturday.”
Ginnelly has enjoyed an impressive start to the season since rejoining the Saddlers from Burnley in the summer.
But while he has netted two goals so far – both away from home – he does feel he should have more. “I’m desperate for that first goal at home,” the 21-year-old said.
“But the important thing is that I keep affecting games.
“When I look back over the clips, in every game I have created something or I have done something to affect someone else. I just want to keep doing that and play consistently throughout the season.
“If I keep working hard, I know my time will come and I will help out the strikers.
“Everyone is discussing it – everyone is telling me I need to do better and that is true. We are honest with each other so I’ll keep working hard in training and improving.”
Walsall are unbeaten on the road this season and Ginnelly admits the players are desperate for that run to continue after a few disappointing results at home.
“We feel we dropped two points against Shrewsbury,” he added.
“But we will go again against Bristol Rovers. We’ve been good away, so we’re going into it with confidence and to get three points.”
The opposition: Rovers looking for the goalscoring touch
After back-to-back promotions were followed by a top-10 finish, 13th place last season was somewhat underwhelming for Bristol Rovers.
But the new campaign has also got off to a slow start with Darrell Clarke’s side currently 18th in the table with just two wins from their opening 11 league games.
The big problem for Rovers has been scoring goals.
After ex-Saddler Ama Bakayoko opted for Coventry ahead of a move to the Memorial Stadium, Rovers bolstered their ranks by snapping up Stefan Payne from Shrewsbury.
Payne, along with fellow new recruits Alex Jakubiak and Gavin Reilly, have won praise for their overall performances.
But with just three goals between them – two of which belong to Payne – they are yet to catch fire.
That came to a head on Tuesday when they failed to score despite playing against a Rochdale side who had goalkeeper Magnus Norman dismissed on the stroke of half-time.
The positive for Rovers is that they aren’t conceding a lot of goals.
Clarke’s men have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the league.
And one reason for that has been the form of goalkeeper Jack Bonham, who has been a revelation since being snapped up on loan from Brentford.
Despite their goalscoring woes, Clarke’s squad does boast a lot of attacking talent.
Winger Kyle Bennett has the ability to terrorise defences when on form.
Liam Sercombe is also a canny League One operator who can unlock a defence.
And in Ollie Clarke, Rovers have a very effective box-to-box midfielder.
Losing players like Billy Bodin and Ellis Harrison though has undoubtedly reduced the quality in the squad over the past few years.
The big positive though is that Rovers fans are fully behind Clarke.
Having worked his way up from non-league, the 40-year-old has turned down interest from Championship clubs to remain at the Memorial Stadium.
And Rovers’ prized asset is determined to get the club to a level where they can regularly compete for a place in the top six.
It will probably take a few more years. But Clarke specialises in over achieving and will believe he can do it sooner.
Subs: Dunn, Wilson, Johnson, Ronan, Kouhyar, Morris, Cook, Gordon.
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Bonham, Partington, J Clarke, Broadbent, Craig, Sercombe, Lines, O Clarke, Bennett, Reilly, Payne
The Telford-born winger is known for his blistering pace and close ball control. On his day, Bennett can terrorise defences.
He also has vast experience at the level following spells at Portsmouth and Bradford.