Express & Star

Bescot Banter: Things looking brighter for Walsall

Following last weekend's well-deserved triumph over near-rivals Port Vale, things are looking a little brighter in our part of the Black Country.

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The meeting between the Valiants and Saddlers, which took place at a chilly Vale Park, saw Walsall secure their first win of 2021 and allowed them to close the gap upon the coveted play-off places as an unwanted winless streak, which had dragged on from the busy festive period, finally came to an end.

Unlike the recent draw with Morecambe, which saw the match officials take centre stage with a plethora of poor decisions, the undoubted star of the show was striker Elijah Adebayo, who was able to put certain distractions on the back burner as he netted his ninth and tenth goals of the season on the way to a 3-1 win.

And, despite another worrisome error between the sticks, home-grown goalkeeper Liam Roberts allowing Tom Conlon's long-distance free-kick to find its way to the back of the net - with his difficult spell showing no sign of abating - the Yellows gave themselves and their long-suffering supporters a welcome boost.

In midweek another boost wasn't long in coming as, despite rather premature claims of a deal being agreed, the aforementioned former Fulham frontman Elijah saw his immediate future settled as suitors Hearts abandoned their pursuit and ultimately recruited former Blackpool man Armand Gnanduillet, this despite seemingly unveiling a 'Mission Accomplished' banner aboard the good ship Tynecastle just days earlier.

Whether Eli had agreed to do a deal with the table-topping outfit or not, there are generally accepted ways of handling these types of situations, and it's clear that, from a Walsall FC perspective, the Scottish Championship side fell short of expectations as they chose to do their business via the press, receiving an unsurprisingly less-than-friendly reaction from club officials for their trouble.

Manager Robbie Neilson's claims that Walsall were unaware of when clubs from other countries can speak to soon-to-be out of contract players is, although a little embarrassing, neither here nor there when the fact remains that his side seemed to believe they could simply sweep the Saddlers aside as they looked to add to their ranks.

Of course, the 23-year-old is in the final few months of his deal and, if his recent run of form continues, will no doubt be on the wish list of managers up and down the leagues as he continues to grow into the role of lone striker whilst having plenty more to give.

Hopefully, with the January Transfer Window closing in just days, the club will soon be able to convince Eli that his immediate future lies in WS1, and get him under an extended contract before we reach the end of the campaign.

Whilst we're no strangers to strikers making the most of their time at the club before securing a move to pastures, and probably more importantly wage structures, new, it would be nice to see the club put a marker down and get his name on the dotted line.