Bescot Banter: A week can be a long time in football
Well, a week can be a long time in football, and that cliché has been expertly demonstrated by the suddenly unbeaten Saddlers.
After going fourteen games without a win, the Reds secured victory twice in just a few days as they defeated Forest Green Rovers last weekend before Tuesday evening's triumph over Tranmere Rovers.
Beginning with the meeting with Forest Green, the Saddlers had drawn their four previous games and, though still frustratingly devoid of goals, had begun to show small improvements, securing three clean sheets in four and maintaining a small though unspectacular gap over the drop zone.
The match itself was settled by goals from the ever-reliable Rory Holden and captain James Clarke as, ably assisted by Emmanuel Osadebe, they put the Saddlers into a two-goal lead before Jordan Moore-Taylor pulled one back, giving our nerves something of a jangle for the final eighteen minutes or so.
The result inflicted a fifth defeat in six matches upon the visitors and ultimately resulted in the sacking of manager Mark Cooper. His departure coming despite his team then sitting just five points off automatic promotion. How we'd all love to have the issues which currently blight the New Lawn side.
Fast-forward to Tuesday evening's clash with Tranmere, and, following the news that he and Sam Perry had penned new deals, Emmanuel Osadebe celebrated in style as he unleashed a rocket from the edge of the area which helped his team to bag their second win on the bounce, whilst also making the bottom half of the table look far less threatening as we settled down to sleep later that evening.
Despite Rovers arriving at the match on the back of a disappointing spell of form, the Saddlers have struggled for consistency all season and, December's promising four-game winning streak aside, have endured a dismal 2020/21 campaign. So we'll take the win and even allow ourselves to breathe a huge sigh of relief for good measure.
With the team enjoying a twelve point gap over the drop zone ahead of this weekend's clash with Colchester United, we're all but secure in the fourth tier for another season and as such can now afford to look to the future as the summer months are sure to be busy with plenty of rebuilding and reshaping ahead.
At least part of the reshaping has begun with the signing of Jamie Fullarton, who becomes the club's new all-powerful Technical Director following weeks of applications and interviews. An experienced head who has played, managed, coached, and recruited, Jamie appears to fit the mould of a man who can both restructure the backroom team and build for the future.
With a history of identifying talent, he could be the key which unlocks the club and sets it back on course towards the upper reaches of the EFL. Whilst these are early days, he probably doesn't even have his name on his office door, there is no doubt that his recruitment is a step forward, and we're happy to welcome him to WS1.
With the end of the season within reach, it is important for the team to close the campaign on a high and build upon recent successes, as the summer could have a very different feel if it's reached on the back of a series of strong performances rather than more drab displays.
As mentioned in last week's column, there is always room for hope and, following a week of positivity, we remain hopeful for a better future, although are under no illusions and expect plenty more ups and downs along the way.