A proper third tier game tomorrow against what is, despite them flirting with success a few years ago, a proper third tier football club, in the shape of Tranmere Rovers.
Tranmere were hovering far too close to the drop zone a while ago, but, since changing managers and bringing back Ronnie Moore, they have had a run of success which has seen them reach mid table mediocrity – a position which most Saddlers dream of over the last few seasons!
However, with Walsall now four points clear of the drop zone with four games to go and Orient, the team immediately below them, away at Sheffield United, a win tomorrow would go a long way towards guaranteeing 1st Division football next season. Just as helpful is the fact that the other fixture most closely effecting the Saddlers’ position tomorrow is Wycombe (four points behind), versus Oldham (two points ahead). A home win at the Banks’s tommorrow and any result in that fixture will be of benefit. Lastly, of the two teams three points ahead, Bury have a home game against a Bournemouth side improving since the sacking of Lee Bradbury and Preston a tough fixture against Huddersfield at Deepdale. There could be a lot of teams feeling very, very nervous come 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon – but only if we win.
Dean Smith should have a fully fit squad, other than a doubt over Richard Taundry. Certainly the “holy trinity” responsible mainly for our upturn in fortunes, Cuvelier, Manton and the “Black Country Messi”, Ledesma, are all fit and ready.
Tranmere’s recent injury problems are also behind them and Ronnie Moore has the biggest squad available to him since his return to the club.
Mark McChrystal and Martin Devaney both played for the reserves on Wednesday evening to mark their comebacks from injury while Adam McGurk got another game under his belt. The only player absent from the squad is the fantastically named Max Power who is out with a hamstring injury. Max Power is, of course, the name chosen by Homer Simpson when his name was given to a dumb character in a tv programme. Unfortunately, he was unable to get Marge to change her name to Chesty La Rue, Busty St. Claire or Hooty McBoob. I wonder if Max is married?
Tranmere have won five of the last ten, to see them in what should be a safe mid table position. They have, however, lost two of the last three, so you do tend to wonder if the players have got the deck chairs out. One of those was against high flying Franchise, to be fair, but the other was at struggling Bury. On the other side, we have only lost two in the last ten and might well be clear of the bottom by now if not for too many draws. Personally, I fancy us to get the job done tomorrow.