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Bescot Banter: A disappointing week for Walsall

We're back with another look at the 'Week in Walsall', and what a disappointing week it was.

Matt Taylor.
Matt Taylor.

The Saddlers went into last weekend's meeting with Carlisle United on the back of a welcome win over Port Vale and with a view to making more progress on the road to a potential place in the race for promotion.

However, despite coming up against a team which hadn't tasted victory in the league for some twelve games and were faced with the prospect of falling further behind some of their relegation rivals, Walsall not only failed to win but ultimately fell to defeat.

Falling behind to Tristan Abrahams' 88th-minute strike, the Saddlers struggled to create much in the final third as they entered yet another disappointing performance, with the winning goal coming via another lapse in concentration.

Fast-forward to Tuesday evening and the Reds were back in action as they made the trip to the Abbey Stadium where they faced Cambridge United in Round Two of the much maligned EFL Trophy.

Although taking on higher league opposition, and on the back of the dismal showing away to Carlisle, the Saddlers started the match in fine fettle and really should have been out of sight well before the referee called for half-time refreshments.

However, in what is becoming a rather unwelcome habit, the Saddlers not only wasted numerous guilt-edged opportunities but also gifted their hosts the game's opening goal as a rather sloppy challenge in the area led to Sam Smith's 18th-minute penalty.

Walsall were handed an opportunity to get the game back on level terms with around ten minutes of the first-half remaining but were unable to take advantage as Kieran Phillips was denied by 'keeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle, who more than earned his clean sheet as he denied the Saddlers even a consolation goal during a night to remember.

The match ultimately went the way of the hosts as our flaccid frontline faltered, with second-half substitute Shilow Tracey going on to net the second and final goal of the game to send the Saddlers out of the competition.

There is little doubt that the current crop have the makings of a successful team, with the ever-producing partnership of Manny Monthé and Rollin Menayese, the progress of midfielder Jack Earing and the admittedly currently out of form George Miller in attack.

However, with the two most recent outings serving as a rather painful example, there is still something missing. Be it desire, creativity, or a lack of game-changing ability, all too often the team slips to defeat after dominating large swathes of games.

We remain hopeful that the ever-decreasing injury list can and will go a long way to adding strength to the creative side of the team, with the likes of Rory Holden able to offer that spark which we’re currently missing, but are a little concerned about the frustrating and unpredictable run of form.

Whilst it's encouraging to see the team taking the game to their opponents, the lack of cutting edge is hugely concerning, especially as the squad has a fairly high number of attacking outlets when compared to previous teams.

With the month of December offering up a variety of opposition, it won't be too long before we know whether the current run is just a bump in the road towards the Play-Offs or the long-term direction the team is headed.

Whichever way the month ends up going, the opening of the Transfer Window could both help and hinder the side. Along with the opportunity to add some fresh faces comes the very real possibility of a few of the current crop of loan stars returning to their parent clubs.

But, as all of that remains a few weeks away, let's concentrate in the here and now, starting with this weekend's Emirates FA Cup - Second Round clash with Swindon Town and a match which could see the side secure a money spinning trip to a Premier League side.

With our form currently resembling the track of a rollercoaster, let's hope we're on the way back towards a morale-boosting victory and not continuing on a downward spiral towards yet another disappointing defeat.

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