Well, what a difference seven days makes. To be honest, though, it should be what a difference seven days and a bit of youth international class on loan makes! Florent Cuvelier announced his arrival on loan within five minutes of his debut as a substitute by producing the pass of the season with his left foot inside and around the opposition right back, into the path of Barrowman and hasn’t really looked back since. That might have been a great devfensive performance last Tuesday night, but it is the attacking knowhow and ability to produce something different from the Stoke City player that is providing the springboard for an atempt to get clear of the danger zone. The return of Hurst has also shown how much he was missed when he was out injured.
Dean Smith has a clean bill of health, apart form Daryl Westlake, but it is unlikely that he’ll make any changes to the team for the trip to Preston tomorrow, even though Manny Smith will be desperate to get back in the eleven. Taundry has benefitted from a move to right back – another problem position this season – and Grof may well have done enough at Scunthorpe to keep the legend that is Jimmy Walker out of the side.
(Relatively) new Preston Manager Graham Westley has a few more problems, with with Jamie Procter, Craig Morgan, David Gray, Steven Smith and Neil Mellor all likely to be missing. However, midfielder Paul Coutts is back in contention after sitting out the last month, Danny Mayor will be looking for a repeat of his match-winning goal versus Hartlepool having missed out on the trip to Bramall Lane whilst star man Iain Hume is set to return to the 16.
There seems to be a little discontent with the new Manager at the moment, with some criticism of his defensive approach to games, a 4 5 1 being his preferred formation so far. That leaves North End with a home record in the last six of won 2, drawn 2, lost 2. The Saddlers have won 1, drawn 3 and lost 2 of their last six away games. If you take the last six games, home and away, it’s Walsall that have the better record, with the Saddlers having won 2, drawn 2 and lost and Preston having won 2, drawn 1 and lost 3. All that, to me, means a close run thing and a draw the most likely outcome.