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Bescot Banter: A busy Walsall start to 2022

We're little more than a week in to 2022, and it's already been an eventful one for the super Saddlers.

Walsall manager Matt Taylor
Walsall manager Matt Taylor

After enjoying a COVID enforced break over the festive period, Matt Taylor's Reds played host to Newport County last weekend as they looked to earn their first three points of the new year.

However, in a match which quite simply had it all, the Saddlers showed great resilience along with a healthy dose of luck as they got back on level terms not once, not twice but on three occasions to deny their visitors the win.

After falling behind with just four minutes on the clock, County forward Dominic Telford continuing his stellar season in front of goal, the Saddlers went on to stage a remarkable comeback, with second-half substitute Conor Wilkinson taking centre stage.

Scoring via his first touch shortly after he'd replaced Kieran Phillips early in the second forty-five, Conor showed us exactly what we'd been missing during his recent spell on the sidelines as he truly turned the game on it's head.

Despite the former Leyton Orient man putting the visitors back into the lead with an unlucky own goal mere minutes after levelling the scores, the Saddlers were soon the proud benificiary of an own goal all of their own as Exiles midfielder Matty Dolan returned the compliment midway through the half.

However, in another fast-paced turn around, ever-present forward Dom Telford went on to bag his seventeenth goal in eighteen all-competition appearances to put his side back into the lead, as Saddlers hearts sunk once more.

But the scoring didn't end there as the points were ultimately shared as Wilkinson produced a Messi-esque finish deep into stoppage time - the forward volleying home with his weaker foot - to send the fans into raptures as their heroes rose to the occasion.

Although the result saw the Reds take just a point from their opening game of the year, overall the performance was a promising one. Despite falling behind on three occasions, the Saddlers demonstrated a welcome ability to rise from the ashes and not simply roll over as some teams of the past may have.

Of course, the fact that the team fell behind so many times in a single outing is a cause for concern, but Tuesday's news that Mansfield Town defender Rollin Menayese had made his stay a permanent one should go a long way to providing us with a stable backline for years to come.

Rollin's partnership with fellow summer signing Manny Monthé has shown plenty of promise, and the fact that both are now under contract for the next season or so is something we're more than happy about.

Obviously, there remains plenty of room for improvement across the pitch and we'll never secure a place in the upper echelons of the table with a defence that can ship three goals in a single game, but the team has promise, and, after the last few years, that's all we can hope for.

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