Express & Star

Bescot Banter: Time to Walsall to take opportunities

After a one-nil triumph over Crawley Town saw the Saddlers secure their first win in six league games at the start of the month, Saddlers fans could be forgiven for thinking the team may be on the verge of an improved run of form.

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However, following a defeat to Bristol Rovers in the First Round of the FA Cup and a late loss to Oxford United in the final group game of the EFL Trophy the victory over the Red Devils now represents one win in three all-competition outings.

And although the more rose-tinted amongst us would happily sacrifice the various cup competitions in favour of concentrating efforts on achieving promotion from League Two, the recent run if form is more likely to see the team gradually slip down the ladder rather than steadily climb it.

Despite enjoying an eight game unbeaten start to the 2020/21 campaign, the Reds have found victories far too hard to come by as their underperforming creative outlets, coupled with a lack of cutting edge in front of goal, have seen several opportunities to take all three points frustratingly fall by the wayside.

With injuries continuing to blight the squad, the loss of striker Josh Gordon probably creating the biggest issue to overcome, manager Darrell Clarke has been forced to take a look at some of his lesser-used options, with the recent cup outings providing the perfect proving ground.

With regular football the only way to get the best out of players it will be interesting to see whether the manager simply reverts to his previous selection when they become available or retains the services of his newly-blooded players as they potentially enjoy their best form following a run of games.

There is no doubt that the 2020/21 season is a long one and, with or without cup matches, the manager will need to have all of his squad at his disposal if he is to take the team towards the promotion places when we reach the business end of the campaign.