Stephen Ward expecting Walsall response to home reverse

Stephen Ward insists Walsall are raring to go and ready to respond to a ‘wake-up call’ tonight against Scunthorpe.

Stephen Ward, right, and Liam Kinsella
Stephen Ward, right, and Liam Kinsella

The Saddlers welcome the Iron to the Banks’s Stadium looking for their first win under Matt Taylor.

They enter the clash hot on the heels of a 3-1 home loss to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, and veteran Ward is determined to put things right.

He feels Taylor has assembled a strong squad and wants to prove that against Neil Cox’s visitors.

“The manager has brought in a good group of characters. We’ve got a good dressing room,” said former Wolves man Ward.

“We’re still a new team that’s getting used to playing with each other and we will get better.

“But it has to start quick as you can run out of games quite quickly in these leagues.

“To get a wake-up call as early as the second game, it’s something we have to realise can’t happen again – especially on our home turf.”

Ward feels Walsall actually started pretty well against Forest Green before a costly ‘10 or 15 minutes’ at the end of the first half.

The away side raced into a 3-0 lead in that time and while the Saddlers got their first goal of the campaign through Brendan Kiernan in the second half, it only acted as a consolation.

Ward knows they cannot afford another spell like that against Scunthorpe.

Walsall boss Matt Taylor

“The fans here are great. They came in great numbers, so that was one of the most disappointing aspects,” said the 35-year-old full-back.

“We wanted to win for them but we’ve got to dust ourselves off as players and be mentally strong.

“We’ve got to come and give them something to shout about.

“They deserve it after what they saw on Saturday.

“We sort of lost belief for 10 or 15 minutes and then found ourselves 3-0 down.

“But that can’t happen. We can’t give the game up like that.

“We wanted to come out in the second half and try to win the second half, which we did.

“But the game was done by half-time and we gave ourselves too much to do.”

A clean sheet is high on Ward’s agenda after conceding four goals in the first two league games.

Goalkeeper Carl Rushworth has still impressed so far, though, and Ward said on the Brighton loanee: “He’s been brilliant.

“We’re lucky enough to have two top goalkeepers and Jack (Rose) has been pushing Carl really well in training.

“To be fair to Carl, he’s come in and took his chance.

“He’s been outstanding and has a bright future ahead of him.”

On tonight’s test, Ward added: “We’ll have a think about how we performed both as a team and individually at the weekend, and then we’ll come here raring to go.

“We want to give the fans something to cheer about.

“We want to get the result for them.”

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