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Bescot Banter: The struggle for form continues

We're ten games into Walsall's 2021/22 League Two campaign, and, although there are some signs of progress, the team continues to struggle for form.

Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor

After losing two times in as many games, the Saddlers managed to get another point on the board last weekend as they held title-chasing Exeter City to a draw at a damp and dreary St James Park.

Thanks to another George Miller brace, the on-loan Barnsley forward twice putting the Saddlers back on level terms after their hosts had taken the lead, a potentially lengthy run of defeats was halted, for another week at least.

Starting the game on the front foot, Walsall squandered several opportunities to both take and extend a lead, with a frustrated Matthew Taylor later insisting his team should have had the points wrapped up before the referee called for half-time.

Speaking shortly after full-time, Taylor admitted his team has to be better in both boxes as an especially sloppy second-half, which came after they had failed to capitalise upon their spells of dominance in the opening forty-five, resulted in two points being dropped.

And it's difficult to disagree with the gaffer's assessment, as his team not only failed to put the game to bed despite having the hosts on the ropes on several occasions, but also conceded two unnecessary goals on the way to a rather frustrating awayday draw.

With points being something of a premium so far this season, games like this are unlikely to come around very often, especially as the injury list, which includes many of the team's strongest outlets, including the hard work of Liam Kinsella and the creativity of Rory Holden, continues to play such a major role in the manager's team selection.

Along with last Saturday's coach trip to Devon, the team also made the short hop to Sixfields Stadium on Tuesday evening as they took on Northampton Town in the second of their three EFL Trophy group games.

The match, which saw Emmanuel Osadebe open his goal-scoring account for the season before the Cobblers levelled the scores from the spot in the second-half, ended with Walsall securing a bonus point after dispatching all four of their post-match penalties as the home side managed just two successful spot kicks.

Despite the competition meaning very little to Saddlers fans these days, the game provided the gaffer with an opportunity to hand match minutes to some of the players currently sitting on the fringes of his first-team squad.

With the likes of Jack Rose, Tom Leak, Zak Mills, Alfie Bates, and Sam Perry among those taking to the field, the manager may now have a better understanding of what they can offer, and, given how poor recent form has been, it can't hurt to rotate the team with a view to finding a winning formula.

We can only hope that the gaffer and his team are able to turn last weekend's frustration into determination as they welcome Salford City to the Banks's on Saturday afternoon. As another defeat will almost certainly see the team slip closer to the relegation zone.

Whilst we can all agree that the team has the potential to finish the season much higher up the table than the one which it largely replaced in the summer, that potential needs to become a reality, and soon.

With more than thirty-five league games still to play, there are plenty of points still up for grabs but, after earning just nine points from their first ten games of the season, the signs currently point to a less-than successful campaign.

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