Guest preview by UTS regular, Bangor Cymru Saddler:
Another Monday, another blanket of silence falls over Walsall – with no news of the departure of Chris Hutchings as manager of Walsall F.C. Will this nightmare ever end?
Apparently there is an important match on Tuesday evening, where our multi-talented professional football and management team will attempt to halt the seemingly irreversible decline of Walsall FC with a lucky, hard working, 10 man performance againt the un-lucky Fleetwood Town. There are rumours circulating that we may attempt to get 3 players sent off from the kick-off to get ourselves a boost and improve our chances of winning three-fold – whether this maverick plan will be implemented by our manager remains to be seen.
Fleetwood Town come into this 1st round FA Cup tie on the back of a hard-earned 0-0 draw against Rushden and Diamonds, moving up into 4th place in the Blue Square Premier. A side that is built on a hearty defence, which includes the large and uncomprising centre back pairing of Steve McNulty and loan signing Sean Gregan from Oldham. Elsewhere, a considerable threat will come from first leg scorer Jamie Mullan. Fleetwood will be hoping top scorer (12 goals) Magno Viera will be fit for the tie, and hope to introduce Gareth Seddon back into the first team after missing out the draw against Rushden. Elsewhere, the experienced Peter Cavanagh (former Accrington Stanley) will be hoping to provide good delivery from right-back, with the ex-Villa left back Alan Wright hoping to do the same from the other flank. Another ex-Accrington Stanley player, Ian Craney, will be hoping to provide experience and know-how in the middle of the park.
Walsall come into this game with injury headaches and selection dilemmas. Martin Devaney may be fit enough to return to the fold, but should not be rushed back into action straight away. Jon Macken missed the capitulation to Bournemouth at the weekend and may be available. One player that will certainly be missing is first-leg sending off-ee, Ryan McGivern who has been called up into the full North Ireland squad for their friendly against Morocco. It has been rumoured his exceptional skill in getting sent off to boost the morale of our side was the kicker in Nigel Worthington’s decision. Young talent, Will Grigg will also miss the game due to his under-21 call up for the same home nation. New signing Andy Butler should play after his performance on Saturday against the Cherries, when asked whether Butler did well in the game, Hutchings’ gave a detailed description of his playing career thus far – answering the question, without actually answering the question… let’s see if he plays. Clayton MacDonald may shake off a calf problem – giving Hutchings a selection dilemma.
We should revert back to a 4 4 2 formation for this game, but anything is possible with Hutchings in charge. If we do, which one of our midfield maestros will be dropped? My money is on the untried Paul Marshall, who has been given limited first team opportunities this season. The likely line up is therefore: Walker, Westlake, Butler, Smith, Lescott, Jones, Richards, Taundry, Gray, Dickinson, Reid. Steve Jones coming in for Paul Masrhall – is the only tactical change we can really make – with Jones moving to the right wing, and Reid moving up front to partner the on-fire Liam Dickinson.
Prediction? We really should beat Fleetwood at home, but as we have witnessed this season, anything is possible. If we have worked hard in training all week, watched the DVD several times of the Bournemouth game, said prayer to the giant rabbits foot, placed horseshoe’s all over the Banksss stadium – then we should be ok. But will we be? I predict a scrappy 1-0 win, but do not be surprised if we lose after extra time on penalties.
Regardless of the result, Chris Hutchings should be removed from his position as manager with immediate effect. We are cut adrift at the bottom of the league, with dwindling attendances – Jimmy Mullen was sacked for a lot less. If we want to salvage anything from this season, then we need a complete overhaul of the managerial staff, we need fresh impetus in order to make our climb out of the relegation positions we currently find ourselves rooted in. Over to you Jeff – prove you are the self-confessed number one fan and listen to the overwhelming oppositon to the current manager in charge. The attendance will be an interesting one.