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Bescot Banter: Walsall flexibility key to success

After bouncing back to earn a point against surprise strugglers Mansfield Town last weekend it was pleasing to see the Saddlers hold firm to take all three points from their midweek clash with Crawley Town.

Darrell Clarke
Darrell Clarke

The meeting with Mansfield came just days after manager Graham Coughlan had been issued with his marching order and, as often happens with teams who have a caretaker in charge, the Stags were able to enter a much-improved performance to take a point from the Saddlers.

With Stags Academy Manager Richard Cooper taking the reins, the home side opened the scoring via Nicky Maynard as the well-travelled striker was alert enough to take advantage of some slack Saddlers defending to give his team the lead heading into the break.

Thankfully for the Saddlers they were able to start the second forty-five on the front-foot and were soon back on level terms as Elijah Adebayo grabbed his fourth goal of the season just three minutes after the teams emerged from the dressing room.

Whilst it's disappointing to only take a point from a side currently going through a period of poor form, the very fact that the Saddlers were able to bounce back and take a deserved point has to be seen as a positive, especially as wins are increasingly hard to come by.

The midweek meeting with Crawley Town was another competitive, at times end-to-end, affair with both backlines having to be on top form with three all-important points up for grabs. Though it took the Saddlers far too long to truly test either Glenn Morris or his injury-enforced replacement Tom McGill in the Crawley goal.

In fact, the only goal of the game came via an unusual source as veteran defender and current player/ coach Mat Sadler was able to capitalise upon an initially saved corner to grab the goal and more importantly the points for his side. Talk about leading by example!

Whilst it was another frustrating night for the Saddlers' front-line, the team continues to be able to take at least a point from the majority of games meaning the gap between us and the relegation places reached twelve points ahead of this weekend's FA Cup clash with Bristol Rovers.

Along with the welcome win, and another clean-sheet for Liam Roberts, another positive to arise from the midweek win over John Yems' side was the form of some of the Saddlers fringe players.

Whilst several first-team regulars, including James Clarke, George Nurse, Danny Guthrie and Josh Gordon, missed out through a variety of factors including injury and fatigue the manager was able to call upon a few of his lesser used players to fill the gaps and add a welcome headache when it comes to team selection.

We've been amongst those calling for the manager to explore more of his options as of late and welcome the recent changes, even if they are short-lived, and hopefully the flexibility will allow Clarke to protect some of his more vulnerable players as the long season continues.

Finally, we'd like to pay tribute to club chairman Leigh Pomlett. Despite having a schedule which no doubt keeps him awake from dusk to dawn, the former Blue Coat School boy continues to keep fans, players and stakeholders updated with the latest goings-on at the club.

His recent announcement that some 80% of 2020/21 Season Ticket holders had allowed the club to keep their money without compensation just goes to show how far the club has gone, and more importantly how much fans feel connected with the team, in his short time in charge.

After years under a leadership which would often choose to remain silent even when there were major issues surrounding the team it is refreshing to have a hierarchy which appears to understand just what the club means to them. And long may it continue.

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