Bescot Banter: Walsall start 2021 with a whimper

After ending 2020 with a duo of defeats, Walsall began 2021 with a whimper.

Darrell Clarke.
Darrell Clarke.

Taking on Carlisle United during a chilly Saturday afternoon in WS1, the Saddlers once again failed to make the most of their time on the ball as they fell to a two-goal defeat, extending their latest losing run to three games.

The result, which saw the travelling Cumbrians take their place at the head of the table, meant the Saddlers extended their stay in the middle of the pack, though still within a few welcome wins of the coveted Play-Off places.

Whilst the Saddlers secured the lion share of possession they were unable to do much with it, the absence of Rory Holden clearly playing a part as that all-important 'spark' was missing for all to see. With the former Bristol City man set to miss most if not all of the remaining campaign it is imperative that someone steps up and makes his position their own. Our return to form could well depend upon it.

As mentioned several times already this season, there appears to be a disconnect between the three main sections of the team, defence, midfield, and attack, and we need to see much more from them as a group if we are to climb back up the table and avoid a lengthy winless spell.

Thanks to our earlier exit from the FA Cup we're in the middle of a rare fortnight without football and must use this downtime to address some of the more pressing issues which continue to blight our campaign if we are to hit the ground running when our season resumes next weekend.

We can't continue to rely on a few individual performances to take something from games. Whilst goals have come from players throughout the ranks we continue to see chances fall by the wayside, something which will not be helped by the departure of Bournemouth loanee Jake Scrimshaw.

Whilst Jake was far from prolific in front of goal, the Cherries academy graduate netting just twice in sixteen first-team outings, he was a willing runner and, if used correctly, is capable of unlocking rival defences allowing his strike partners to potentially add to their tallies.

Manager Darrell Clarke has already hinted at the possibility of adding to the squad during the January Transfer Window and with the likes of Jake Scrimshaw and Birmingham City striker Adan George returning to their parent clubs, coupled with the loss of Rory Holden, it may prove crucial that the gaffer is able to land some fresh legs, not least in attacking positions.

Looking to off the field matters, on Tuesday afternoon we learned that midfielders Liam Kinsella and Alfie Bates had extended their contracts until at least the summer of 2023, the club securing the futures of two of our more consistent performers.

Whilst neither can claim to be the finished article, and we'll need many more of their peers to sign on the dotted line before the future of the team is truly secured, both are hard workers and we, and the vast majority of the fanbase, welcome their extended stays.

As chairman Leigh Pomlett and manager Clarke continue to enjoy a strong and growing relationship both appear to be on the same page when it comes to recruitment and, possibly more importantly, retention and, as many clubs are being forced to make tough choices, we're encouraged by the drive to get business done as soon as possible.

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