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Bescot Banter: We remain confident

In this week's column we take our usual look back at the Saddlers' most recent outings, including an encouraging, but ultimately disappointing meeting with Bradford City, before welcoming the latest player to make the move to the Banks's.

SPORT COPYRIGHT EXPRESS AND STAR STEVE LEATH 25/01/2022..Walsall FC V Bradford.  W: Carl Rushworth cant stop a penalty by Andy Cook going in..
SPORT COPYRIGHT EXPRESS AND STAR STEVE LEATH 25/01/2022..Walsall FC V Bradford. W: Carl Rushworth cant stop a penalty by Andy Cook going in..

Since our last long-winded look at all-things Walsall, the Saddlers have gone on to enter two very different, but ultimately futile performances, on the way to defeat.

Heading into last Saturday's meeting with Exeter City on the back of a disappointing defeat to Mansfield Town, the Reds had it all to do as they looked to avoid dropping yet closer to the relegation zone.

However, in what must go down as one of the most disappointing showings of the season - and that's saying something given just how badly 2021/22 has gone so far - the Saddlers not only fell to defeat but also saw yet another player added to the injury list as Stephen Ward became the latest to pay a visit to Head Physio Marc Czuczman's massage table.

Goals from Timothée Dieng and Cheick Diabate were enough to see the Grecians home to victory and, despite the close scoreline, the defeat was all the Saddlers deserved on another afternoon to forget in WS1.

Securing less than half of the ball, and only troubling the Grecians' defence on just a handful of occasions, the team seemed to be out of ideas pretty early into proceedings, and that was before Rollin Menayese saw red after Carl Rushworth went on an ill-advised adventure outside his area, forcing the defender to make a rash challenge.

With just a few days to prepare, the Saddlers then played host to Bradford City

and, despite also slipping to defeat, were applauded off the pitch following a much-improved performance which should have resulted in at least a point being added to their tally.

However, the footballing gods weren't having any of it as, despite George Miller netting his first goal since the brace he scored against Barrow in late October - the on-loan Barnsley man doing well to rebound from a 'Miss of the Season' award-worthy effort in the first-half - the visitors became the latest side to taste victory against Walsall.

Opening the scoring via Matt Daly around seven-minutes before the break, the Bantams rebounded from Miller's second-half strike to take all three points as Andy Cook slotted home from the spot after Zak Mills was adjudged to have handled inside the area.

But the result doesn't tell the whole story as the Saddlers looked much stronger when compared to many of their recent outings, and really should have at least taken the lead, not to mention a share of the spoils.

More confident in attack, and determined in defence, George Miller's unfortunate miss laid bare a striker with a massive fifteen-game goalless spell, but his eventual goal shows a forward with ability to keep his head up and get into promising positions, even if the goal came via a Zak Mills volley into a crowded penalty area.

Hopefully, the late defeat will serve as fuel for the Saddlers upcoming games as they all represent an opportunity to halt the worryingly lengthy run of poor form, during which the team has won just two of their last fourteen games.

On to more positive matters, and the recent arrival of central defender Donervon Daniels, who became the second signing of the January Transfer Window last Monday afternoon, adding some welcome strength to our weakened backline.

Although only signing on a short-term deal, Donervon is just what our backline needed. A strong defender who is keen to make the most of his time at the club, he will hopefully be able to form a partnership with Rollin Menayese and help the team to gain some much-needed balance at the back.

Despite goalkeeper Rushworth continuing to enter strong performance after strong performance, he and his temporary team reach this weekend's meeting with Bristol Rovers on the back of a run of four consecutive defeats and could really do with a bit of good fortune.

Be it a five-goal thrashing or a stolen late one-nil win, the Saddlers simply need to get some points on the board as, despite being in the very early stages of another project rebuild, there will come a time when the chairman and his fellow board members have to make a decision on the future of the gaffer.

We remain confident that, with a few well-scouted new recruits, the team should be able to at least secure safety in the league for another season, but are concerned that the future is far less bright than many at the club are insisting.

Whatever happens over the next seven days, we're hopeful that the board is able to strengthen both the squad and its relationship with the fans, as both are crucial to the success of this club.

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