Walsall v Darlington: Don’t be FA Cup fall-guys says Darrell Clarke

Darrell Clarke believes plenty of people will tip Darlington to cause an FA Cup shock when they take on his Walsall side tomorrow.

Darrell Clarke
Darrell Clarke

But by respecting their opponents, the boss is confident it will be the Saddlers making it through to the second round. Alun Armstrong’s side, who currently play in National League North, head to the Banks’s Stadium unbeaten in their last seven – with six of those ending in wins. In complete contrast, Walsall have lost each of their last six games.

But Clarke’s side put in an improved performance at Swindon last weekend.

And the boss believes if they match that display they will win tomorrow.

“If we play like we did against Swindon I think we’ll win the game,” he said.

“I’m sure there will be a few coupons where we’re the favourites to be that banana skin.

“What we’ve got to do is focus on our jobs.

“I’m very respectful. I’ve managed in non-league as well and had success in non-league.

“Darlington are on a good run, they are an ex-league club. It doesn’t change, there’s two goals, 11 men versus 11 men and officials so it’s a game of football so we’ve got make sure we’re not on the end of a Cup upset.

“We’ll give Darlington the respect that they deserve, I’m sure there will be plenty of fans and it will be a decent atmosphere, but we’ve got to get our punters going.

“It’s going to be edgy and a bit nervous I imagine, certainly with our fans not being happy. We’ve got to put on a performance and get to the next round.”

Clarke admits Walsall’s run of six straight defeats has been tough to take.

But he says – physically – the statistics show his players are doing all they can they to get back to winning ways. And he feels cutting out individual mistakes will be key to them getting back on track. “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how you get back up,” Clarke said.

“We’re on a bad run so hopefully the FA Cup is a welcome distraction. “What needs to be said is we monitor everything and we do things as professionally as we can.

“The players are covering the distance, they’re winning a lot of first contacts so there is no problem with the effort, desire and commitment. But the fact of the matter is we’ve got to get better in both boxes.

“In the last six games, we’ve had a ridiculous amount of individual errors, blatant errors in my opinion, which you have to cut out. Any manager will tell you the same, if you’re doing that your backs against the wall.”

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