Chris Marsh: Reasons to be cheerful after that Walsall performance
It’s the old whisky glass scenario – it’s a case of deciding if yours is half-empty or half-full.
With Walsall currently sat 20th in League One, I completely sympathise with fans who are fearing the worst.
But after the performances against Bradford and Burton Albion, my glass is now half full.
The win over Bradford – as I said last week – was an heroic effort.
But it was so important to follow that up with a result at Burton.
And I think the point earned at the Pirelli Stadium was a great point.
Performance-wise, we could have had all three. Josh Gordon and Matt Jarvis had the best chances of the game in the second half.
But Burton are no mugs, on their day they are as good as anyone in the division.
Defensively though we looked really solid and restricted them to very little. It was the type of performance we were crying out for a few weeks ago. And for me it was another big step in the right direction.
Back in January, I said Walsall needed to make signings to help lift the place.
The new recruits didn’t quite have the immediate impact I was hoping for. But it does seem like Martin O’Connor’s arrival has lifted the mood.
Sometimes a new face and some fresh ideas can work wonders. And O’Connor seems to have made a big impression – it’s clear he has done everything he can to lift the players and give them a bit more belief.
What’s truly remarkable is that – while Walsall are just two points outside the relegation zone – they are also just two points from 13th.
And the way I see it, any team from 12th down is battling to stay in the division.
It’s Wycombe who currently occupy that 12th spot, another of my former sides.
I made some wonderful friends in my time there and I still always look out for their results.
But they are probably the most direct side in the division and I haven’t been overly impressed with them.
One thing you have to say is that the players there are really playing for the manager. But it’s not pretty to watch.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate it when players in League One try and play tika-taka. You see teams trying to split the centre-halves and play out from the back via the keeper.
But it doesn’t work at that level. Man City can do it because they are quality.
But in League One you will be pressed into mistakes. You have to know the level you are at.
For me, it’s all about getting the ball forward and then playing in the opposition’s half. That’s what Blues are doing at the minute in the Championship and it works.
I think it is important to look at the table when considering Walsall’s position at the minute. One or two wins and they will shoot right up. And recent performances would suggest they are heading in the right direction.
The signs are good. But while fans have heard it all before, I urge them to stick with the team throughout the next month.
The Fleetwood game on Saturday is absolutely massive. But after that, the next three fixtures are horrendous – there is no other way to say it.
The Saddlers face Portsmouth, Sunderland and Barnsley – three teams who all expect to win promotion. It’s going to be incredibly tough. But Keatesy and his players have put in some of their best performances against the top sides this season.
For me, we need a result on Saturday and then it’s all about staying in contention because, on paper, April looks a lot easier. It’s going to be anxious. It’s going to be edge-of-seat stuff, but isn’t it always with Walsall?
But if everyone pulls together to make sure we get through this month, then I believe we will again be a League One side next season.