Thanks due to Luke, a regular UTSer, for this preview of the match up the road at the birthplace of the inestimable Lisa Stansfield.
The Saddlers travel to Lancashire on Saturday to face newly (and finally!) promoted Rochdale. It will be the first meeting between the sides since Scott Dann’s Maradona-esque equaliser earned Walsall a point in our League Two title winning season.
As for the teams, Darren Byfield will be hoping to start after recovering from an achilles problem to come on as a substitute in last week’s miserable defeat against Colchester and David Davis will go straight into the squad following his arrival from Wolves on a one month-long loan.
Ryan McGivern and Will Grigg are also available after returning from international duty with Northern Ireland U21s, which including them both scoring in a win over San Marino last Friday.
There are three absentees, with Richard Taundry and Steve Jones both out of contention through injury, while Alex Nicholls is serving the second of his three-game ban.
Rochdale occupy ninth place in the table and go into the game on the back of impressive away league wins at Brentford and Southampton, although they went out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Port Vale inbetween. Manager Keith Hill has a full squad to choose from and will be hoping for veteran midfielder and captain Gary Jones to continue his fine start to the season, which has seen him score five goals in all competitions already.
The opposition’s other main threats will come from forwards Chris O’Grady, who was ‘Dale’s 22-goal top scorer last season, and Anthony Elding, who will be looking to resurrect the kind of form which saw him score 24 goals in 45 games for Stockport County and earn a move to the ‘mighty’ Leeds United.
As for predictions, Rochdale have picked up a solitary point from their opening two home games, with the Saddlers gaining three from our two away games. On the back of less-than-impressive performances against Chesterfield and Colchester, surely things can only get better. 2-1 away win.
For those fans who can’t make the pilgrimage, don’t forget alternative entertainment is available at the George Street Asda in Walsall, where you can watch kids trying to kick lumps out of our mascot Swifty. He’s making a personal appearance to drum up support for next weekend’s Family Fun Day at The Banks’s Stadium.
Swifty will be turning up between 11.00 and 1.00pm, while the hard-working staff and face painters will be putting in a longer shift, from 10.00am till 3.00pm. If you trot along there, you might win a chance to be a mascot for a match, or match tickets, or tickets for one of the sporting dinners that Bescot’s famous for.
The result will be a ....
- Rochdale win (46%, 26 Votes)
- point a piece (32%, 18 Votes)
- Saddlers triumph (22%, 13 Votes)
Total Voters: 57