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Bescot Banter: The struggles continue for Walsall

Another week has gone by, and the Saddlers' struggles continue.

Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor

Heading into last weekend's FA Cup Second Round clash with Swindon Town on the back of a duo of defeats, it was hardly surprising to see Saddlers fans across social media feeling a little downbeat.

A league loss to relegation-threatened Carlisle United, the Cumbrians' first win in twelve league games, and an EFL Trophy defeat to Cambridge United had seen the team fail to build upon the run of form which had seen them climb into the top half of the table for the first time this season.

Sadly, fan feelings were far from improved on Saturday afternoon as the Saddlers continued their spell of frustrating form, once again failing to capitalise upon a handful of goal-scoring opportunities on the way to a second cup exit in less than a week.

Despite Emmanuel Osadebe's third goal of the season, strikes from Tyreece Simpson and Kaine Kesler-Hayden were enough to see the well-backed Robins safely into the Third Round of the world's oldest domestic cup competition, where they were rewarded with a money-spinning home draw against Manchester City.

With the disappointment of another defeat, and the victors' subsequent budget-boosting clash with Man City still fresh in fans' minds, attention then turned to Tuesday's league meeting with Crawley Town, and a fixture which presented Matthew Taylor's side with an opportunity to extend the gap between themselves and a side which had won just one of their last seven league outings.

However, with Storm Barra making for some tricky conditions at the Banks's, neither the Saddlers nor the visiting Red Devils were able to get a real handle on the match as Brendan Kiernan's fourth goal of the season was swiftly cancelled out by Tom Nichols as the spoils were shared.

Despite securing some 61% of the ball, and creating some promising goal-scoring opportunities, our forward line continued to falter, with Head Coach Taylor later admitting they lacked bravery in the final third. Something we can all agree with.

Although the result saw the team briefly pop back into the top half of the table, the performance was the latest in a long line of drab displays. Winning just one of their eight games since November's FA Cup victory over King's Lynn Town, it's fair to say the team has developed something of a split personality.

On one hand, we're in a much better position than just a few short months ago, enjoying a healthy gap over the drop zone, and sitting within a few wins of the Play-Off places, but on the other, goal-scoring opportunities continue to fall by the wayside as defensive errors also remain a major factor in the outcome of games.

With the team facing just four games between now and the opening of the Transfer Window in January, several members of the squad have a few short weeks to stake their claim for a regular place in the team, as, whilst budgets may be slim, there is little room for passengers and if better options become available in the New Year the club is duty bound to go after them.

Whatever happens over the coming days and weeks, there is plenty of work to be done, both on and off the field, hopefully starting with a welcome win over Colchester United this weekend.

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