Bescot Banter: Walsall can't find their feet

We're a couple of months into the 2021/22 campaign, and it's fair to say the Saddlers haven't been able to find their feet.

SPORT PIC MNA PIC  DAVID HAMILTON PIC  EXPRESS AND STAR 18/9/21 NEWPORT COUNTY VS WALSALL Matt Taylor afterWalsall conceed a late goal..
SPORT PIC MNA PIC DAVID HAMILTON PIC EXPRESS AND STAR 18/9/21 NEWPORT COUNTY VS WALSALL Matt Taylor afterWalsall conceed a late goal..

Ahead of this weekend's awayday clash with Exeter City, the Saddlers had won just two of their nine league outings, drawing two, and losing a worrying five.

A narrow victory over Stevenage and a comfortable triumph over Mansfield Town are far outweighed by many more draws and defeats, with the team's frustrating form giving the faithful very little to get behind.

Despite seeing a raft of changes over the summer, including a refreshed squad and rebuilt backroom team, many of the issues which blighted the team last season somehow remain.

An indecisive defence, along with a mediocre midfield and inconsistent attack, has left the team sitting near the foot of the table and on course for eclipsing last season's worst in several generations finish, which was secured in May.

Whilst Head Coach Matthew Taylor has used his recent press interviews to insist he still believes in his squad, and thinks they will eventually find their groove, there's little evidence to back up his views.

Despite failing to score in only two of their nine league outings, the Saddlers have struggled to put games to bed and spend far too long on the back foot, with the opposition often able to control proceedings.

Along with the overall drab displays, the Saddlers have developed an unhealthy ability to pick up injuries, with hard-working club servant Liam Kinsella and attacking midfielder Emmanuel Osadebe being the latest to take their place on Head Physio Marc Czuczman's list of merry men.

Kinsella, who recently made his 151st league appearance in a Saddlers shirt, suffered a knee injury during the defeat to Newport County, and is expected to miss the next few months as he begins on the road to recovery.

Whilst Osadebe was forced off during last weekend's 2-1 collapse away to Bristol Rovers, with his stop/start season, which has so far seen him complete the full ninety-minutes in just three league games, hitting the buffers at least for the next few days.

Looking back at the defeat to Joey Barton's Pirates, a side which has also endured a slow start to the season, and the result once again laid bare the team's troubling ability to let the opposition back into games.

Despite taking a first-half lead via on-loan Huddersfield Town forward Kieran Phillips' third goal of the season, the Saddlers became more lethargic as the game progressed and went on to concede two goals during the final eleven minutes of the contest to make it two defeats in as many games.

Whilst defeats are to be expected, and sometimes the opposition simply outplays their rivals, many of the Saddlers' recent draws and defeats have come as a result of poor play.

Be it a defensive error, or a failure to make more of an opportunity in the final third, this team is its own worst enemy and simply has to be able to manage games better. If that means putting every player behind the ball to protect a narrow lead, or be more willing to have an effort on goal rather than passing the ball sideways when the points are there for the taking, then so be it.

If the current form of draws, defeats and the odd win is to continue, then the team may not only eclipse last season's shocking finish, but could be the group which took the club out of the Football League altogether. A scenario which doesn't bear thinking about.

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News