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Preview: Walsall v Grimsby

By: Kevin Dolan
Date: 14/01/2007

AFTER four games without a goal or a point, Alan Buckley faces another of his old teams as Grimsby Town make the daunting trip to leaders Walsall in front of the Sky cameras.

Home > 2006-2007 Season > Previews > Walsall (a)


The Opposition

Overview
A yo-yo team for most of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Walsall relegated Town from Division One in 2003, before suffering the same fate themselves the following season. Paul Merson, who had been caretaker for the end of that relegation, was then confirmed as manager and steadied the club to 14th the next season before getting The Saddlers in the top half of League 1 at the turn of last year.

However, the 2nd half of last season ended up being a nightmare. The club won two of their last 21 games, plummeted towards the relegation zone and ended up finishing bottom of League 1. Through those five months, five different people took charge. Merson was sacked in February after initially being asked to resign, leaving Mick Halsall as caretaker. Kevan Broadhurst was then surprisingly appointed, but won only 1 of the first 11 games, culminating in the club’s relegation and his sacking. Mark Kinsella then oversaw the final two irrelevant games before ex-Scunthorpe manager Richard Money was appointed at the beginning of May despite spending over 10 years out of the English game.

The Team
Money has made a superb start to his Walsall career and they are currently top of League 2, three points ahead of the chasing pack and with games in hand. They have been in the automatic promotion places nearly all season, losing only twice (away to Town and at home to Swindon). Their home form has been particularly strong, winning their first seven of the season and keeping clean sheets in the first nine. The Saddlers comfortably have the best goal difference in the season (+25 compared to Town’s -21), although conversely they have only managed to score more than two goals on two occasions.

The Saddlers’ consistency so far this season is evident in the spine of the team; eight players have started 20+ games so far this season (out of 26). Slightly surprisingly, Walsall do not have one major goalscorer and their top scorer is Martin Butler with 7, while Hector Sam (left), who signed from Port Vale in the summer, and Dean Keates both have 6 goals. Ex-Mariner Darren Wrack has been recovering from a calf injury and will be major threat considering Town’s current record with ex-players.

Key Player
Walsall major strength lies in defence, conceding only five goals in their 13 homes matches, and Ian Roper has been a regular for the majority of the last 10 years amassing nearly 300 appearances. Dominant in the air, Roper has also scored three times this season, doubling his career tally in the process. He is likely to be one of the few players who appeared the last time the teams met in the west midlands.

Recent Form

TownWalsall
LChester(a)0-2
LRochdale(h)0-4
LStockport(a)0-3
LHartlepool(a)0-2
WTorquay(h)2-0
Currently 19th in League Two.
WPeterborough(a)2-0
DBristol R(h)2-2
WShrewsbury(h)1-0
DBoston(a)1-1
DWrexham(a)1-1
Currently 1st in League Two.

Top Scorers

TownWalsall
Peter Bore5
Gary Jones5
Butler7
Keats6
Sam6

Team News

TownWalsall

  • Nick Fenton serves the second of a two-match ban.

  • Anthony Pulis has returned to Stoke due to a knee injury.

  • Bristol Rovers’ midfielder James Hunt has joined on a month’s loan.
  • The Saddlers have just spent a week training in Gran Canaria after being without a game for two weeks.

  • Anthony Gerrard, Dean Keates and Darren Wrack have all recovered from injury and should be available for selection.

  • On loan Tommy Wright serves the last of a three-match ban, whilst Daniel Fox misses the match after picking up five bookings.
  • Probable Teams

    TownWalsall
    1Phil Barnes
    2John McDermott
    6Justin Whittle
    24Simon Grand
    3Tom Newey
    17Peter Till
    8Paul Bolland
    TBAJames Hunt
    21Nicky Rizzo
    19Gary Jones
    14Martin Paterson
    1Clayton Ince
    24Scott Dann
    2Craig Pead
    5Chris Westwood
    6Ian Roper
    15Kris Taylor
    12Dean Keates
    14MArk Wright
    8Michael Dobson
    9Martin Butler
    TBAPar Cederqvist

    Subs

    TownWalsall
    13Robert Murray
    16Danny Boshell
    4Gary Harkins
    23Nick Hegarty
    22Danny North
    41Bertrand Bossu
    4Anthony Gerrard
    7Darren Wrack
    11Tony Bedeau
    10Hector Sam

    Head to Head

    A trip to The Bescot Stadium usually ends in defeat for the Mariners, and their nightmare record includes only two wins ever and one draw in their last 16 visits.

    P 61 W 22 D 10 L 29 F 86 A 90

    Walsall Head-to-Head (69th on The Opposition Ladder)

    Last Meeting

    The last time The Mariners visited Walsall was during the middle of the 2002/03 season when both teams were in the bottom six of Division One.

    17-Dec-2002
    Walsall3 - 1Grimsby
    Junior 27
    Leitao 66
    Wrack 87
     Livingstone 38

    Walsall Team: Walker, Pollet (Ainsworth, 57), Hay, Roper, Bazeley, Corica (Aranalde, 57), O'Connor, Sonner, Wrack, Leitao, Junior (Simpson, 87)
    Subs: (not used) Mendes, North, Barwick, Goodfellow, Downey

    Grimsby Team: Coyne, McDermott (Santos, 45), Ford, Gavin, Gallimore, Campbell, Pouton, Coldicott, Barnard (Soames, 77), Oster, Livingstone
    Subs (not used): Allaway, Groves, Thompson

    Attendance: 5,888   Report

    Prediction

    Wasall 3-1 Town

    Reader's POMs

    Directions

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