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Bescot Banter: A welcome return to hope and positivity at Walsall

It's time to take another look at the Week in Walsall, and, after enduring a dismal couple of months, it's been a positive seven days in WS1.

New Walsall manager Michael Flynn is unveiled to the media
New Walsall manager Michael Flynn is unveiled to the media

With the team losing seven and drawing one of their eight games since 2021 became 2022, and as fan frustration reached new heights - the Independent Saddlers Supporters' Association (ISSA) organising an impassioned protest ahead of kick-off - the Saddlers went into last weekend's clash with title-chasing Tranmere Rovers in dire need of a return to winning ways.

As the game arrived just a few days after Head Coach Matthew Taylor had seen his contract cancelled, interim boss Neil McDonald and coach Mat Sadler had very little time to get their message across as they were tasked with steadying the seemingly sinking ship.

However, in what has to go down as one of the more unexpected results of the season so far, the Reds well and truly rose to the occasion as they entered a determined display, where they were able to not only thwart their under-par visitors' advances but also draw a defensive error at the other end, giving Conor Wilkinson an opportunity to give something back.

Drawing defender Peter Clarke into a foul inside the area with just five minutes of the game remaining. Conor regained his feet and, displayed some welcome calmness as he slammed the ball home, netting his fifth goal of the season and securing three much-needed points, much to the relief of a bouncing Bescot Stadium.

The relief wasn't simply limited to the long-suffering fans as, speaking to the media shortly after the referee had called for full-time, Wilkinson dedicated both his goal and the overall performance to former gaffer, Taylor, with the forward admitting he and his teammates owed him one. And it's hard to disagree.

With the recent run being amongst the worst in Saddlers history, the players had not only let the fans down but also their manager. While the gaffer ultimately selected the team, the players must bear some responsibility for their individual performances, and, as individual errors played a huge part in many games, it's only right that they display at least some regret following Taylor's departure.

Back to the game itself and while the result will need to be the first in a long, long line of wins and draws if the team is to avoid being dragged ever closer to the relegation zone, the performance was more than welcome, especially as it showed just what the team is capable of when everything comes together.

Just a couple of days after the triumph over Tranmere, and in somewhat surprisingly swift fashion for a side which isn't exactly an attractive prospect at the moment, the club confirmed the arrival of a new Head Coach with former Newport County boss Michael Flynn agreeing terms on a switch to the Saddlers.

Flynn, who was attracting interest from several clubs higher up the football pyramid, has form for both avoiding relegation and battling towards the Play-Offs and appears to be the ideal candidate to not only get the team back on track but also make some progress over the next few years.

Clearly there is a long road ahead, and we'll need more than our fair share of luck if we are to avoid the drop, never mind begin to look to the future, but the fact that the club was able to secure Flynn's services is promising, and while this season is simply about survival, we're hopeful that we'll see something of a rebirth for the Saddlers in the not too distant future.

Back to the here and now, and, despite the recent fan protest, and our truly dismal season so far, it's time for all of us to get behind the boys, beginning with this weekend's meeting with title-chasing Forest Green Rovers. Up the Saddlers!

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