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Bescot Banter: Manager change, same old Walsall

Well, there have been three League Two outings since former Development Coach Brian Dutton replaced Darrell Clarke in the Saddlers hot seat, and it's fair to say we've hardly been thrilled by the performances.

Walsall manager Brian Dutton
Walsall manager Brian Dutton

Whilst the team is now looking to build from the back, with the number of completed passes far outstripping those achieved in pre-Dutton displays, the team is failing to create anything in attack, with opposing goalkeepers often going untested.

Following on from the defeat to Cheltenham Town, which saw Dutton field a team just a day after taking charge, last weekend's draw with Stevenage started in style as Caolan Lavery grabbed his second goal in as many games with less than a minute on the clock, but it was all downhill from there.

A drab and dreary display which saw the home side take the game to their opponents, something which would no doubt have left them disappointed to only take a point from the contest, especially as they had a man advantage after Walsall midfielder Liam Kinsella saw red for a poor challenge during the second-half.

In fact the only thing to prevent the Saddlers from losing to the Boro was the overall performance of goalkeeper Liam Roberts, who, despite ultimately conceding the equalising goal, entered his showing of the season, sparing the blushes of his backline.

An in-form 'keeper and our newfound penchant for passing notwithstanding, the team has managed just three shots on target over their last two games — the draw with Stevenage and Wednesday's home defeat to Newport County — and simply must improve if they are to avoid being dragged further down the table.

Following the defeat to Newport — a match which saw the Saddlers create just one shot on target before Joss Labadie netted the only goal of the game — and ahead of this weekend's clash with Bradford City, the Reds sat just eleven points above the drop zone, with several increasingly important matches yet to be played.

Whilst the overall desire of our new gaffer's ball on the ground tactics are welcome, the team had become far too reliant on playing balls over the top, there also has to be an end result, especially with the chance of falling into the National League growing with every poor result.

As mentioned earlier, there are many games yet to play with plenty of points still up for grabs but if the recent results and performances are to continue we may well end up being dragged into a dreaded relegation battle.

And whilst this is clearly the worst case scenario and many other things would need to happen for the team to fall into the bottom two, the team simply have to show clear and consistent improvement if they are to return to the halcyon days of mid-table mediocrity.

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