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Bescot Banter: Yet to see what Walsall are all about

We've reached the second weekend of the Saddlers' 2021/22 League Two campaign and are yet to see what the new-look Reds are really capable of.

Matt Taylor.
Matt Taylor.

Managed for the first time by Matthew Taylor, Walsall began the season with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Tranmere Rovers, in a match where they failed to trouble former Saddlers loanee Joe Murphy during a frustrating afternoon on the Wirral.

Despite creating some eighteen shots, our newly rebuilt attacking line displayed plenty of first-day nerves and will have to become far more clinical if they are to avoid emulating the class of 2020/21.

Possibly the best thing to come from the game was the sight of some 1,200 of the Saddlers faithful being able to see their team in the flesh for the first time in well over a year. After going through such turbulent times, it was great to see such a strong following on the opening day.

Fast-forward to Tuesday evening and the Saddlers were presented with the opportunity to entertain the home faithful for the first time in eighteen months as they played host to Doncaster Rovers in Round one of the Carabao Cup.

Although the team started the game brightly, pre-season star man Emmanuel Osadebe seeing an effort go wide very early on, goal-scoring opportunities came and went as, once again, the back of the net wasn't found. With the visitors going on to advance to Round Two after winning the post-match penalty shoot-out.

It wasn't all bad, however, as on-loan Brighton goalkeeper Carl Rushworth maintained his place in the starting XI and produced several superb saves, adding yet more pressure onto rival Jack Rose, who has started the season on the sidelines.

Fan reaction to the cup defeat was somewhat mixed, as some seemingly expected the team to breeze through to the next round, whilst others are happy to give their rebuilt team time to find its feet before condemning them in a series of online rants.

Whilst we'd all enjoy another visit to the national stadium, the likelihood of a club our size making it all the way to the final is incredibly slim, especially as higher-ranked sides continue to be allowed to fill their squads with the brightest and best, thus avoiding any real issues when it comes to player fatigue.

Back to the Saddlers, and this season was always going to be a slow burner. After rebuilding the backroom and recruiting an almost complete first-team squad, it will take a bit of time for things to mesh, and we have to be patient.

With the fixture list giving the Saddlers a busy opening few weeks, we shouldn't have to wait too long for the team to become a cohesive unit. There is no doubt that, on paper, this team is much improved from that of last season, it'll just take some time before we see it.

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