Accrington Stanley (A) 13th April, 3pm

#1

"Stanley … of noble fame and worth"

(Shakespeare - William, not Craig)

Our game against Accrington Stanley on September 29th could be regarded as a turning point in a season which will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons - at 3pm that day we already had a fifth of the season behind us, and occupied a handy 5th place in the League One table. By 5pm we had lost 0-1 to a 7th minute penalty, starting a trend for giving away soft penalties or early goals (or combining the two) and the downward spiral was under way.

If anyone had told me then that the return fixture in deepest Lancashire would be crucial to the Saddlers’ League One survival, I would probably have replied with a suitable retort - something like “Go away in short, jerky movements” … and yet, and yet, this is definitely the situation in which we find ourselves. With only 5 games to go and 42 points on the board, it’s pretty much essential that we win 3 of those 5 to have any chance of survival. Our only saving grace may be that there are so many other teams in almost the same position, 11 clubs with only 6 points from top to bottom in that bunch.

Accrington Stanley’s season has a certain similarity to our own - on Boxing Day when they won at home against the Sloppies (well done, lads) they were 9th in the table, 13 points above the relegation zone, but in 18 games since then they’ve only gained 11 points. Their current form is not far removed from ours:-

Mar 12 Wycombe Wanderers (A) Won 1-3
Mar 23 Burton Albion (A) Lost 5-2
Mar 30 Fleetwood Town (H) Lost 0-1
Apr 3 Sunderland (H) Lost 0-3
Apr 6 AFC Wimbledon (A) Drew 1-1
Apr 9 Rochdale (H) Lost 0-1

We have actually scored more League One goals than Accrington, but we’ve also shipped more - but the fact remains that if we can get a 0-3 win we will leap-frog over them, even though they are 6 places above us.

What can Martin O’Connor do to bring about that result? He does have an advantage over any manager brought in from the wider world - he knows the players, he’s familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, and he is on record as saying that he wants effort and pride in wearing the shirt - attributes that have seen some players fall short in recent encounters. There are no injury-related absentees apart from the known long term ones, so he will have a full squad available for selection. His motivational skills may well be just as important as his selection and tactics - and any piece of rolled up paper that he carries will have the dual purpose of (a) important notes and observations, and (b) as an offensive weapon…

Prediction? Tricky, as always. Accrington are also fighting for their League One survival, so no-one is on the beach just yet. However, hints of dressing room unrest (for whatever reason) should disappear simultaneously as “New Manager” bounce makes itself felt. In the spirit of eternal optimism as a Saddlers’ supporter (if you didn’t laugh you’d cry) I’ll go for that 0-3 result, with Cook, Edwards and Kinsella chipping in.

UTS

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#2

Cant see more than a draw myself, both teams are poor…but everyone knows how good my predictions are!

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#3

Yes I agree 1-1

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#4

A draw isn’t a disaster assuming we can beat both Southend and Wycombe.

However, I’m going for a 3-1 win and a new manager bounce. I think MOC will actually have an idea of how to use our team and the application to inspire the troops.

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#5

There’s no reason to think we can’t go and win this. They are one of the teams around us. Their form is virtually the same. I don’t see anybody in their team that worries me particularly. Billy Kee is our very own Andy Cook equivalent.

Trouble is there’s no reason to think we can win this either. If MO’C can get a tune out of Roberts (consistently), The much maligned defence, Osbourne, Blackett-Taylor, and whoever is given the task of dragging those players over the line then I’ll be a lot more optimistic about our chances of survival.

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#6

For either side to win I think it will be down to which of 2 poor teams is the poorer on the day, plus a large helping of Lady Luck. Think it will be a draw and I don’t think that will be enough.

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#7

Must win. Nothing else to add really. As far as I’m concerned we’re already down barring a miracle.

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#8

Billy Kee injured his groin last night and was subbed, don’t know if that makes him a doubt for Saturday, but given their lack of goals I certainly hope so!

Anyway, chance to stand on some terracing and hopefully create a bit of noise. Just hope its worth it.

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#9

Great introduction Welsh.

I don’t believe in singling out players, so instead I’ll remind everyone it was Osbourne who gave away the penalty in September! However, any number of his team mates could have let him know there was an opponent hiding behind him. We had 83 minutes of huffing and puffing and not very much that followed.

The match on Saturday is far too important to predict, but we could learn a lot from it about our current players and our previous manager.

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#10

It’s all about the defence for me . If by some miracle o’connor can install some confidence and get them organised at the back for this game I fancy us to get 1or 2 at the other end. ( a big ask and fair play to Martin if he can )

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#11

I had intended to go to Accrington and Wycombe but have decided against doing so now. If the players cant be bothered, neither can I.

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#12

Can’t see anymore than a draw.

We are toss.

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#13

Head tells me I’m expecting no bounce affect from MOC taking over, 0-1 defeat. Heart tells 1-2 victory.

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#14

Really difficult to call this one. Are the players so down and set in their ways that they really can’t pick themselves up? Is MOC the right sort of character to inspire and lift them? Who knows.

My head says we could lose this 2-1 but my heart says MOC will inspire, won’t make too many changes and will understand a bit more about in-game management leading to a 2-0 win!

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#15

Saturday had a sense of finality about it - the players have accepted their fate whoever is in charge. A 2-0 defeat beckons.

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#16

I think it will be 1-1 imo and we are ■■■■■ at the moment !!!

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#17

More interested to see what team is picked.

Robbo looks broken so would go for Dunn.

Devlin deserves to be dropped so give Norman a run to end of the season to see if he can be capable in league 2 if it comes to it.

Fitzwater for Scarr seems obvious change.

Midfield three of Kins, Edwards and Dobbo please.

Not sure on the front three tbh but would start Cook and Gordon, draw the other one out of the hat.

Does feel like a draw but a win would be huge, would go level with Accy, GD would be level (if it’s a 2 goal win but let’s not go for miracle victories) and they have the hardest last 4 games of anyone down there in the mix.

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#18

Key is apparently 50/50 whether he will be fit enough for Saturday.
If he plays we’re doomed, he will score against us guaranteed.
Some on here have been talking about winning, perhaps 2-0, great thought, but how many months has in been since our opposition have failed to score against us? so a 2-1 might be credible. They are very poor, if Rochdale can beat them so can we, but this is Walsall, not just low on confidence, shattered, players and fans falling out, 5 defeats in a row second bottom in the league. Doesn’t make confident reading, but I’ll be there, screaming support until the very end, if we lose, it will be.

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#19

No idea of the score but can’t see us winning. Fail to win here though and it’s all over for me. Personally think this and Southend are the only two winnable games. (Wycombe being a draw leaving us needing a point vs either Posh or Shrews).

Not sure MOC will have the desired effect. He’ll have no doubt given them a right deserved ear bashing but these players haven’t got enough about them to rise to the challenge. Instead they’ll just crawl up their own arse holes.

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#20

I don’t think Fleetwood or Burton scored against us just over a month ago did they?

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