Express & Star

Walsall v Tranmere: Saddlers keen to continue recent revival built on solid 'foundations'

The culture within the Walsall dressing room will serve as a strong foundation as Mat Sadler aims to continue their recent revival.


The Saddlers host Tranmere Rovers tomorrow afternoon aiming to record back-to-back league wins for the first time in over three months.

Sadler’s men have enjoyed a positive week – responding to a six-match winless run with victories over Notts County and Alfreton Town in the league and FA Cup respectively.

“We’ve gone through some pain. That is football. Results will dictate lots of things in life, but what it won’t do is change the culture in here,” Sadler said.

“It won’t change the environment that I set in here and that’s our foundation to build from.

“Good signs and good teams back it up again, and we’ve got another challenge on Saturday.

“We’ve kept three clean sheets in the last five games. That gives us that platform to go on and win games.

“We’ve gained that little bit of momentum, and when you have that you want to grab hold of it and keep it going.”

Walsall sit five places above Tranmere in 21st as it stands, and could extend the gap between themselves and the relegation zone to 12 points.

Oisin McEntee was the hero as his first career brace helped inspire Walsall to a comeback victory at Meadow Lane. The Irishman has contributed five goals and four assists in all competitions this term, as he continues to go from strength to strength in his midfield role.

Sadler paid tribute to McEntee’s first-class attitude, and is delighted with the work-rate and competition for places among his midfielders.

“Firstly, for someone like Oisin, and those three midfield players. The tank is so huge in terms of the amount of work that they can put into the game,” he explained.

“Oisin, (Ryan) Stirk, (Brandon) Comley and Isaac (Hutchinson) are all really fit players, so I knew he had the capacity in him to be able to potentially do that.

“He’s scored five goals this season now, and that’s even with us shifting him into the back line again, which we’ve had to do at times.

“His attitude towards life and football is one that I love. Those midfield boys, including Ross (Tierney) and Jack Earing are really setting markers and challenges down for each other, which is exactly what I want.”

Walsall will be without Ross Tierney, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury until New Year.

Striker Danny Johnson was named on the bench against Alfreton, and is available for selection after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Owen Evans (calf) remains a doubt, although he is edging closer to a return.

Joe Riley (knee) could possibly return in early January, while Aramide Oteh (hamstring) is not expected back until mid to late January.