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Saddlers Social: Walsall fans have their say after an opening day victory

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Following Walsall’s 1-0 win over Grimsby in their League Two opener, Saddlers fans have their say on the performance.

Saddlers Social

Stuart Cox

Saturday actually felt like the start of the season – it always seems a bit odd when you start with a cup game.

I was very impressed with what I saw on Saturday. I thought we looked solid defensively and generally looked like we knew what we were doing.

I was surprised that Jules was not in the team, although I think the injury to Callum Cockerill-Mollett may force the issue. Rory Holden continued where he left off at the end of last season and Elijah Adebayo was an annoyance to them all game.

For me, the thing that was missing was that ruthlessness in front of goal. A couple of decent chances should have been taken and Grimsby couldn’t have complained if they were four down. That nearly came to bite us when they hit the post at the end but all in all a well deserved win.

Special mention to Cameron Norman who looks a different player this season! I think we have a great balance and depth in the squad this season and, given the fact that most have already played together I feel confident that we can achieve at least a top seven finish.

Rob Harvey

A good start is imperative and a good start is what we’ve got. On the back of another creditable draw against Bristol Rovers in the EFL Trophy we’ve now gained our first three points of the season by beating Grimsby 1-0.

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Having watched the game I would suggest we could and should have won by a bigger margin, and two or three nil would have been just as fair.

Team selection wise there was only one real shock for me and that was seeing Zak Jules dropped in favour of Callum Cockerill-Mollett, especially after the good start to the season he’s had. It looks as though CCM picked up an injury right at the end of the game so Jules may come back in, but we also have George Nurse who looked decent there against Sheffield Wednesday so who knows? Competition for places is high this season it seems and that can only bode well for us.

Overall I thought everything was quite promising however Liam Kinsella and Alfie Bates together in defensive midfield is a bit too negative so I fully expect one of Danny Guthrie or Stuart Sinclair to step in for one of them when back to full fitness.

Another player who deserves massive credit is Elijah Adebayo who seems to have picked up where he left off last season, and the tap in he got was deserved for his efforts in the game, especially in the first half. I’ll take twenty tap ins this season from him! Hopefully the other strikers start to find their eye for goal too.

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Positive cameo from Emmanuel Osadebe who looks a player with real potential, and shout-outs to Cameron Norman, Rory Holden and Wes McDonald too who I felt all had very good games in their respective roles.

I am cautiously optimistic about the season and now we’ve started I can’t wait to watch us more. Hopefully we’ll be in the ground at some point soon. Fingers crossed.

Onto Harrogate (or should that be Doncaster?)!

Chris Saunders

A return to league football, a poachers finish and a clean sheet. 1-0 was the final score and I would be more than happy if that’s a recurring theme this season.

With the absence of physical fans this period of the season will be about getting organised and getting the job done. At the first hurdle we have achieved that and I for one am quietly confident that we can find some consistency and put together a strong start ready for when fans are allowed back through the turnstiles again.

Ian Newbold

Solid start. How refreshing was it to see a Saddlers side kick off a new season without a single debutant on the pitch? Especially after all the turmoil of the mass turnovers of the last few summer transfer windows.

I know we started last season with a 1-0 win, but this felt completely different. Much more deserved this time, rather than the smash and grab at Northampton last year. Grimsby probably shaded the first half and the start of the second but over the 90 minutes we controlled large parts too and created the much better chances.

We may need a bit more guile and experience amongst this exciting and committed bunch of younger players as we go, but we look like we have the ingredients to make a much better fist of League Two this season.

Jon Taylor

A really positive week and so far a great start to the season kicking off with a win in the league and a clean sheet and a draw and penalty win against a League one team. The defensive performance in both games were Jekyll and Hyde on Tuesday we looked very ropey but that had disappeared on Saturday where I thought we never really looked like conceding and should have been cruising after the first 30 minutes as we were by far the better team.

Elijah Adebayo continues his great scoring form with four goals in his last three league games carrying over from last season and think Cameron Norman – after always looking good going forward – now looks much better defensively and put his body where it hurt a couple of times on Saturday.

Let’s keep these levels on performances going on Saturday against Harrogate (what a great away day that would have been) who certainly surprised me with their victory on Saturday, don’t think they will be an easy task.

Nick Etheridge

If the last two games have been dress rehearsals then Saturday was definitely the curtain raiser. It was surreal to watch the ‘proper’ first game of the season on tv to the extent where I didn’t really have that opening day feeling I usually get. The end of the game was a different matter though as it’s always a relief to get those first three points.

It’s really encouraging that we’ve looked very solid in the games played so far. Couple that with the odd flash of quality here or there and we’ve got good foundations to build on. The main difference between where we find ourselves from twelve months ago (obviously bar the Corona stuff) is that we’ve now got genuine options and quality on the bench that can come on and make a difference. Let’s hope that we can all be there in the flesh to witness it in person soon.

Robert Dearn

Three points on the board is a great way to start the season. The goal itself may not have been the prettiest we will ever see, however the build up showed how good we can be going forward. We looked effective going forward, and created some good chances. Yes we could have made it more comfortable for ourselves, but the fact we’ve created chances is half the battle.

One thing that also impressed me, was the organisation of the team. Going forward, we had good numbers, with the attacking midfielders linking up well. Defensively, the midfield two tracking back gives us bodies behind the ball, and made us tough to break down.

I feel we are in for a few 1-0s this season, but I would take a well organised 1-0 every week if it sees us go up!

James Kenealey

A solid, encouraging performance in our first league outing. I thought we kept up a great work rate and tempo throughout and bar one brief spell after half time we were comfortably the better side.

It’s frustrating to see a couple of blown chances again that should have put the game to bed before Grimsby hit the post and nearly ruined the afternoon. It would have felt like a defeat, no question. I remember in the last home game before the break against Exeter, Caolan Lavery blasted an absolute sitter over the bar and there was another chance that similarly went awry. We need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.

There’ll be harder games but put a shift in like that every week and we won’t go far wrong this season. It very much felt like a continuation of the good run of form we had before COVID-19 put a halt to everything, which is impressive considering the six-month break. I was quite impressed with Emmanuel Osadebe’s cameo too, he could be a smart addition.

Special mention to the iFollow service. I had my reservations about how well it was going to work with increased demand, but it worked faultlessly for me. It wasn’t, and will never be, a substitute for actually going, but as what I hope is a short-term solution it was good.

Dan Price

How nice would it have been to be sitting in the lower, sun overhead, on the opening day of the season watching the saddlers win 1-0 –those days will return but for now it’s great to get the three points on the board.

It wasn’t the starting XI I had imagined however in Darrell Clarke we have faith, I thought we looked pretty solid at the back with Liam Roberts not having a lot to do and going forward thought we had plenty of the ball to create more chances than we did.

Great to see Emmanuel Osadebe had a good 30 minutes, think between him and Rory Holden we have some healthy competition in that area of the pitch.

This week’s fixture away to Harrogate looks a tough game based on their great result Saturday but confident we can come away with points.

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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