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Bescot Banter: One Step forward, two steps back

There have been three games since our last warble about Walsall, and it's been yet another case of one step forward and two steps back for the ever-frustrating Saddlers.

SPORT COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 15/04/22.WALSALL V CARLISLE.Walsall head coach Michael Flynn....
SPORT COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 15/04/22.WALSALL V CARLISLE.Walsall head coach Michael Flynn....

A disastrous defeat to Rochdale, which saw the Reds enter what was probably their worst performance of the season so far, was followed up by a well-deserved victory over Carlisle United, before a frustrating slip at the hands of Crawley Town.

Looking at the reversal to Rochdale, and the pain didn't only arrive in the form of what was a third defeat in as many games, but also in the unwelcome additions to the already plentiful list of injuries that have plagued the 2021/22 campaign as both Liam Kinsella and Conor Wilkinson suffered season-ending injuries, whilst goalkeeper Carl Rushworth picked up a knock before the game had even got underway.

Of course, the injury nightmare for one of our fallen trio was just beginning as it was later revealed that Conor Wilkinson will not only miss the rest of this season but could also sit out the whole of the 2022/23 campaign with an ACL injury, a truly devastating blow for both him and the club as attacking options are already somewhat limited.

Back to on the field matters, and Good Friday's clash with Carlisle United, and, although the overall performance isn't likely to go down in history as one for the ages, the patched-up Reds were finally able to reach the fifty point mark and put all possibilities of relegation to bed after securing a one-nil victory at the Banks's.

Jack Earing's fourth goal of the season, coupled with an all-too-rare clean sheet, saw the Saddlers bounce back to winning ways, and finally afford the manager the space to fully concentrate his efforts on rebuilding the team ahead of the new campaign.

Just a day before the conquest over the Cumbrians, we learned that Technical Director Jamie Fullarton had left the club after just a year in the role. Whatever the reasons for his departure - just a short visit to 'Up the Saddlers' tells you there are many weird and wonderful possibilities - the burden for rebuilding the team now firmly falls at the feet of Flynn.

With a plethora of players nearing the end of their contracts, and another group possibly not worthy of another season with the club, the gaffer is set to endure one of the busiest summers of his managerial career, a summer which neither he nor the club can afford to get wrong.

Back to matchday matters, and on Bank Holiday Monday the Saddlers made the trip to Broadfield Stadium where they would take on Crawley Town, and, in what was a return to regularly scheduled programming, the team failed to make enough of their opportunities before going on to concede the game's only goal on the way to a fourth defeat in five league games.

Whilst the team was unlucky not to have taken the lead, George Miller's first-half goal being ruled out for an extremely tight offside decision, the team is still incapable of putting games to bed, as goal-scoring opportunities consistently fall by the wayside, an issue that has to be addressed ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

With just three games remaining between now and the end of the season we're hoping to see some of the academy prospects dotted among the matchday squads, it'll not only give Flynn an opportunity to see how they perform in fairly stressful situations but also send a message to a few of the underperforming players that they can't expect to stay in the team after such a dismal campaign.

Whatever happens over the next few weeks, even a trio of wins would only see the team sit six points better off than the class of 2021/22, it is clear that things have to change and, with Flynn now being the only one who can make that change, we hope all of our fellow fans will get behind him as we get back on the rollercoaster that is Walsall FC once again.

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