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Bescot Banter: Hope springs eternal for Walsall

It's the penultimate matchday of the season and we're back with our latest look at the super Saddlers!

SPORT COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 23/04/22.WALSALL V PORT VALE.Walsall head coach Michael Flynn..
SPORT COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 23/04/22.WALSALL V PORT VALE.Walsall head coach Michael Flynn..

As the Saddlers arrived at last weekend's meeting with Port Vale on the back of a narrow one-nil defeat to Crawley Town - their fourth loss in five league games - we were simultaneously fearing the worst and hoping for the best as the opportunity to do the double over the title-chasing Valiants came into full view.

Whilst we're always confident of getting one over the Valiants - a quick look at the head-to-head table shows the Saddlers had lost just twice in the ten previous meetings - you just don't know which Walsall FC you're going to get as of late; be it the confident, game-controlling, capable of beating anyone side, or the passive, error-prone, easily defeated one.

However, in what was a welcome return to form, the Reds well and truly rose to the occasion as goals from Sam Perry, the midfield man showcasing some of the ability which has seen him become something of a fan favourite in WS1, and Emmanuel Osadebe were more than enough to beat the boys from Burslem, knocking them back into the Play-Off places in the process.

Although the win doesn't go as far as to fix what has been a broken campaign, it does give us hope that, with the correct financial backing and a large dose of good fortune, Head Coach Michael Flynn and his backroom team will be able to guide the team through a successful new campaign.

Clearly, recruitment is only one of the issues the gaffer will be faced with this summer, and results are not guaranteed, even after you have assembled a group of players who are willing to give their all for the team, but there has been a superb turn of form since Flynn took charge and we're more than a little bit hopeful that he can get the team ticking in 2022/23.

And, speaking of financial backing, in midweek we were given the news that the Saddlers will not be playing in the Banks's Stadium next season though, rather than go

through the upheaval of a move to a swanky new ground and all that it entails, the club had agreed a deal with locally-based discount retailer, Poundland, with the 32-year-old stadium now going by the name of 'the Poundland Bescot Stadium'.

Whilst the social media reaction to the deal was to be expected, replies ranging from a warm welcome to strangely abuse-riddled rants and everything in between, the sponsorship agreement is a positive one for the club and should allow for a, however small, increase in the playing budget for the coming campaign.

Representing what will be the largest commercial partnership in the club’s history, the powers that be have so far managed to avoid many of the financial issues which other clubs continue to suffer through and come to terms with one of the biggest brands in the country, no mean feat in the current climate.

Along with news of a new stadium name came the unveiling of our new playing kits and, although many of the usual suspects found cause for concern, the overall reception was a positive one. Adorned with the name of our new principal partner, and coming in a variety of colours, the players will at least look good next season, though whether that play like that is another matter!

And finally this weekend, we'd like to pay tribute to the soon-to-be-leaving stadium announcer, Gavin Drake, who this week confirmed his departure after some eighteen years with the club. A voice we all recognise, it'll be odd to hear someone else welcoming the players onto the pitch next season.

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